Comity and the Great Uniter

Calling the Democratic Party the Democrat Party is a condescending, needling insult, a phrasing meaningless in itself, but having that unambiguous connotation by exclusive use by Republicans in their worst partisan mode. Bush said it four times at the beginning of his news conference and at least once thereafter. Not a promising beginning for all the ‘working together’ the president says he wants.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

13 thoughts on “Comity and the Great Uniter”

  1. The 'Democrat party' was, in fact, started by Sen. Joe McCarthy and his followers back in the fifties. It deserves to be as buried as he is.

  2. I agree. It seems petty, but you have to get their name right if only to prove you know who they are. Anyway, its revenge of the nuns with Baltimore's own Nancy Pelosi joining Barbara Mikulski looking large and in charge. I wish the GOPeers luck with Miss Nancy.

  3. What is it about the phrase that's insulting? Is there some historical connotation (related to the "Dixiecrats" maybe?) I'm not getting? Sorry for the naive question.

  4. I suspect that, like certain racial epithets in the Old South, the term is so deeply rooted now among the leaders of the Republic Party that they can't even hear themselves anymore.
    I hadn't known about McCarthy, but I well remember the variant's widely commented-upon diffusion in Texas in the late 1960s & early 1970s, as the Republic Party began to establish itself. Before then it was much less widespread there.

  5. "Q": Apart from any historical connotation, it is insulting because it is meant to be insulting. If you kept deliberately misstating a friend's name and knew that he didn't like it, he wouldn't remain your friend.

  6. I've never heard this before. (I thought the expressions were interchangeable, like US and USA) A quick check of six of my colleagues finds no one who knew there was a difference. How many people know about this?

  7. Everyone.
    US and USA are similar, though not entire equivalents. They sure sound it. "Demo-CRAT" and "democratic" sound real, real different to most native English speakers.
    "Rat" is an insult where you're from, isn't it?

  8. KH:
    What's this Republic Party you speak of? I never heard of it, only the 'Publican party, you know, the one that spends like a drunken sailor?

  9. They can call me Susan if it makes them happy. They lost, not because we sling more mud, not because we harassed voters to stay home, not because we hired companies promising us states to do the vote counting and not because we cycled through a litany of positions on major issues during the last weeks of the campaigns. They can continue to call us the 'Democrat party' and we can continue making fools out of them on every issue, or they can come to the table with desire to move this country forward. Their call.

  10. "Democrat" is used in place of "Democratic" because they want to distinguish between the two. Because they "support" (rhetorically at least) democracy and things that are democratic, but not Democrats.
    That's really the whole idea. Democratic = good, Democrat = bad.
    I call them Dems and Reeps. It's fun.

  11. Yup, exactly. "Democrat" is a noun, "democratic" an adjective, and many Republicans don't think the adjective particularly descriptive, so they don't use it.
    I suppose that denying that you're really "democratic" is a slight of sorts, but then, aren't members of parties *supposed to* think there's something wrong with the other parties?
    Anyway, it's got nothing to do with rats.

  12. Wow. If this post is any indication, Democrats lack class in precisely the same way the President lacks competence: completely and utterly.
    The smirking chimp congratulated y'all, O'Hanlon. He said it was "a thumping." But all you can do is focus on the fact that decades of boozing have left the poor sap with permanently slurred speech.
    Now are you going to hurry up and learn to take a compliment as if someone had given you one before? Or will we have to give you a postdoc at some ivy league school where you can write a peer reviewed article on how to guzzle champagne without doing a spit-take every time?

  13. It's much less of a sin to refer to the "Democrat Party" than to refer to our republic as a democracy, fer crissakes. The latter has the consequence of reinforcing the lamentable notion that popular sovereignty ought to be free of mediating institutions.
    Besides: Democrats aren't. Why is it that Democrats comprise the vast majority of those who are throwing up their hands in disgust as gay marriage amendments pass in state after state? It's because they realize–to their credit–that a bigoted majority is, what's the word, illegitimate.

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