A Grammar Lesson
There are scores of serious, issue-oriented problems I have with today’s Republican Party. I would love an opportunity to engage their leaders in serious debate. But the first problem I face is that it is not clear who those leaders are. And the loudest people who run for election under the Republican banner seem to have little or no interest in debating anything.
This is evident from the moment most of the Republicans open their mouths and complaint about the “Democrat party” or a “Democrat position.” It is not the “Democrat Party” it is the “Democratic Party” and their purposeful error of grammar reeks of the playground name calling I remember so well from my childhood. There is nothing cute about being called childhood names. Gravy, groovy, garbage, I heard them all.
While that sort of nonsense ended after grade school, my reaction then is the same reaction I have now when I hear Republicans smirk their little semantic game. Summoning my best Soupy Sales or Three Stooges, I dream of pushing their collective faces into a whipped cream pie.
Luckily for me there are smarter and cooler heads who prevail. One is Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who you may recall led the prosecution for the House in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial. He did so with great grace and skill. And he did it just days after tragically losing his son.
On March 1, 2023, Raskin gave his House GOP colleagues a grammar lesson on the difference between Democrat and Democratic. He was responding to Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who had accused him of trying to censor conservatives by introducing a bill to combat disinformation. Boebert repeatedly used the term “Democrat Party” instead of “Democratic Party”, which is considered disrespectful and inaccurate by many Democrats².
Raskin explained that Democrat is a noun, while Democratic is an adjective. He said that using Democrat as an adjective is grammatically incorrect and politically offensive. He also pointed out that his bill was not about censorship, but about accountability and transparency for online platforms that spread false or misleading information.
Check out the video:
Raskin’s grammar lesson was not only a clever way of correcting Boebert’s mistake, but also a subtle reminder of his party’s values and principles. By emphasizing the word Democratic, he implied that his party stands for democracy, while Boebert’s party does not. He also showed his respect for language and truth, while Boebert showed her disregard for both.
Raskin’s grammar lesson was a rhetorical device that served multiple purposes: it educated his colleagues, and the public who saw the video played on almost every major newscast the next day, on proper grammar usage; it defended his bill against Boebert’s attacks; and it highlighted the contrast between his party and hers. It was an example of how language can be used as a tool for persuasion and argumentation in politics.
The Republican response was predictable. Many made fun of the scarf on Raskin’s head. A typical insensitive unserious dig at a man suffering the side effects of chemotherapy to treat cancer.
“Chemo causes hair loss, tenderness to the scalp, and many times sores,” one Twitter user wrote. “A head scarf protects the regulation of body temperature that is effected by chemo, and protects the scalp. Please be kind to chemo patients, they are fighting for their life.” In fact, this is Raskin’s second battle with cancer, after he overcame colon cancer in 2011.
I was pleased to learn there are some Twitter users who have more class than members of the Republican party.