As you’ve probably noticed, President Donald Trump and his GOP accomplices have taken to referring to lawmakers on the other side of the aisle as members of the “Democrat” party, which sounds cumbersome and weird probably because it’s grammatically incorrect, using a noun to modify another noun. Considering the source, butchered syntax is no surprise, but the contraction itself may very well have more sinister beginnings.
Although the precise origin cannot be pinpointed, Joseph McCarthy did use it in the 1950s and it has generally been considered demeaning since then, popping up now and then in the political universe until the 1990s when a different kind of Republican Party rose to prominence personified by Newt Gingrich, according to author Steve Kornacki. In an NPR interview in February, Kornacki told Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson that talk radio, specifically “Rush Limbaugh, brought it back to prominence, and it’s been with us ever since.”
As the theory goes, the party’s official name sounded too positive with “democratic” intimating that it was the party of the people, while removing the suffix could significantly alter the suggested meaning. While our current president throws the word around promiscuously, we don’t have to look very far to find a dramatically different perception: Again, according to Kornacki, when George Bush used the same language during his State of the Union address in 2007, he dropped in on Democrats at their annual retreat several days later and basically apologized, joking “My diction isn’t that good, I occasionally mangle the English language, I appreciate your inviting the head of the ‘Republic’ party.”
Today’s Republicans have no such grace, focused as they are on controlling the narrative, which they have skillfully managed in recent years, culminating perhaps with the Mueller Report. Weeks before the public release of the 400-plus pages of documents, Trump’s hand-picked attorney general earned his keep, announcing the report found no collusion and he himself had determined there was also no obstruction of justice on the part of the president.
AG William Barr’s purposefully evasive conclusions were allowed to marinate for weeks while Trump repeatedly took to Twitter, bellowing: “No collusion — no obstruction — total exoneration.” When portions of the report were finally released and Democrats responded to Mueller’s clear assertion that — regarding the president obstructing justice — the report “Does not exonerate,” they were depicted as wanting a “do over.” Apart from every aspect of their argument being completely untrue, the strategy worked, the base was secured and as far as Trump’s GOP was concerned, nothing else really mattered.
Considering that Democrats have largely avoided petty mudslinging and the application of nicknames for their opponents, we thought we’d be do them a solid and get the ball rolling. Certainly, the Republicans have characteristics that might lend themselves to creative labeling ... what brands might be appropriate?
OK, let’s try this: Since they have proudly become the party of “no” and — other than providing huge sums of money for their wealthy friends — refuse to get much accomplished, so, how about the “Republican’ts”? Since the beginning of the Obama administration, the former Grand Old Party has simply become the Old Party, seemingly baffled by government’s responsibility to do stuff. BOP has just as nice a ring to it ... Benevolent Order of Parasites.
We hear a litany of Republican’ts excuses, most the caliber of “The dog ate my homework:” We can’t possibly come up with a health care plan, we’ve only had 10 years to work on it ... We can’t be expected to propose sensible gun legislation, the NRA will tighten our leash ... We can’t begin fixing our crumbling infrastructure if it means Obama may get credit ... We can’t fix the immigration disaster at the southern border because it might make our leader look bad ... We can’t raise the minimum wage, our donors might require a fainting couch.
Another option might be Republicons, since they’ve been on the long con for years in a variety of deft manipulations of their less tolerant or simply more gullible constituents. One favorite is the dog whistle — saying something that clearly means something else entirely, like “state’s rights,” a throwback to southern segregation and the political philosophy that the “Gubmint ain’t got no right to integrate our schools if we don’t want to.”
What about BOP tax scams? According to Bruce Bartlett, who helped develop and sell the Reagan tax cuts of the 1980s, in a 2017 commentary in USA Today explained: “Virtually everything Republicons say about taxes is a lie; tax cuts and reductions will not pay for themselves and they never have. Republicons don’t even believe they will, they are just excuses to slash spending for the poor when revenues collapse and deficits rise.”
So take your pick: Cons or Can’ts ... they’re sort of interchangeable, depending on the situation ... they begin with the con ... Giving your money to millionaires and corporations; and swiftly shift into the can’t ... we can’t afford school lunch programs, the money’s all gone.
Maybe we can’t afford Republican’ts/cons making decisions any more.
Walt Amses lives in North Calais.