OTHER VIEW: An antidote to the GOP’s ‘ic’ factorRepublicans should stop referring to “the Democrat Party” and resolve to call it by its proper name, the Democratic way. It would be a powerful nod in favor of not only civility, but also respect.
By: Editorial board, The Grand Forks Herald
Events still could turn the race around. But in recent weeks, polling across the spectrum shows trends moving in President Barack Obama’s direction. ... So, what should Republicans do? ... Here’s an idea. It has almost no chance of being adopted. But it’s mentioned here because it would be dramatic, generate positive publicity for Republicans and favorably impress swing voters. Plus, it involves only two letters — “i” and “c”: Republicans should stop referring to “the Democrat Party” and resolve to call it by its proper name, the Democratic way. It would be a powerful nod in favor of not only civility, but also respect. And that’s the key. Because right now, whenever a Republican talks about the Democrat Party, he or she is expressing contempt. That is absolute strychnine in a relationship, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in a marriage, counselors say.
So, by backing off on this small but much-hated-by-Democrats practice, Republicans would be acknowledging that American governance is a two-party “marriage” of sorts, and it’s in everyone’s interest to make the marriage work.
The parties are opponents, not enemies. Beyond that, they’re Americans, with a shared interest in leading a country of freedom, prosperity and hope.
If the GOP doesn’t think that making such acknowledgements would shake up the race, they’ve got blinders on. Besides, it’s just two little letters. What have they got to lose?
Two little letters they may be, but their deliberate omission is like nails on a chalkboard to Democrats. ...
“I’d like to begin by saying to my colleague from Texas that there isn’t a single member on this side of the aisle that belongs to the ‘Democrat Party.’” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, in response to a fellow congressman’s repeated use of the term at a 2009 hearing.
“We belong to the Democratic Party. So the party you were referring to doesn’t even exist. And I would just appreciate the courtesy when you’re referring to our party, if you’re referring to the Democratic Party, to refer to it as such.”
The term goes back to at least 1940, the late William Safire wrote. Harold Stassen of Minnesota was managing the Republican campaign against Franklin Roosevelt. The Democratic Party was a machine controlled by bosses, Stassen said, and any such group “should not be called a ‘Democratic Party.’ It should be called the ‘Democrat party.’ ”
The name stuck. Since then, it has turned up in Republican Party platforms, on talk radio and even— astoundingly—in President George W. Bush’s calls for bipartisanship: A certain report would give Washington a chance to find “common ground,” Bush said — “not for the good of the Republican Party or the Democrat Party, but for the good of the country.”
Think about this from swing voters’ perspective. By definition, a swing voter could go either way. So, why would a party want to treat half of that voter’s inclination with contempt? Simple salesmanship suggests the better approach, which is to acknowledge the merits of both sides, then explain why one’s own side is better. ...
Broad segments of the electorate are hungry for gestures of civility and respect. The Republican Party should offer one.