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"Democrat" vs "Democratic": A Trivial Distinction

Updated on September 8, 2017
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Politics, history, & spirituality are part of my writing interests for essays, including short biographical sketches.

American Election Campaign


Nothing Democratic about Today's Democratic Party

The right-wingers such as Republicans, libertarians, and conservatives who intentionally refer to the "Democratic Party" as the "Democrat Party" often do so because they perceive little to nothing "democratic" in that party's policies.

Instead, the current far left-leaning "Democratic Party" has begun to embrace policies that correspond to the authoritarian/totalitarian policies of communism and socialism.

Such a socialistic intention can be seen in the Patient Protection/Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. That act was foisted on the American people solely for the purpose of establishing a single-payer system, which is the system that Democrats universally tout and attempt to establish in the U.S.A.

Nothing is more "socialist" in nature than the government paid health care that leads to gross mismanagement of that care. Americans need look only at the failure that their "socialized" medicine has brought the Canadians.

Those communist/socialist systems have long opposed the "people-oriented" values and policies that the traditional democratic-republican system of the United State of America has long embraced, beginning with the Founding Fathers creation of the U.S. Constitution.

"Democrat" Influenced by Southern Dialects

Whether the employment of the term "Democrat" for "Democratic" is deliberate or not, however, is not likely the issue in most cases where one may hear that substitution. Many individuals speak a dialect influenced by the speech patterns of southern dialects.

I can testify to the southern dialect influence of my Kentucky and Tennessee relatives while growing up in east-central Indiana. My relatives habitually referred to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat Party" and they were nearly all of the party persuasion. It would not have occurred to them that "Democrat Party" was a slur.

Today's belligerent Democrats hankering for anything with which they can degrade their opponents found it useful to attack President George W. Bush—whose dialect, by the way, has been formed by residing in the southern state of Texas—when he referred in his 2007 State of the Union address to the "Democrat majority" and "Democrat Party."

Bush then met the attack with a self-effacing joke: "Now look, my diction isn't all that good. I have been accused of occasionally mangling the English language. And so I appreciate you inviting the head of the Republic Party."

True Distinction in Lower vs Upper Case

A legitimate distinction between those terms, "Democrat" and "Democratic," lies in the employment of upper and lower letters. The lower-case "democratic" and "democrat" indicates only the nature of the people-oriented type of governing system, which remains a heartfelt staple in the minds of the electorate of the U.S.A.

The upper-case "Democratic" or "Democrat" refers only the party and a member of that party. Thus, Barack Obama is both a Democrat and a democrat. Donald Trump is a Republican and a democrat. (Explanation below.)

Interestingly, the term "Republic" instead of "Republican" will likely remain a joking Bush non-entity, even though linguistically, it might be considered a parallel expression with "Democrat" for "Democratic" though not in terms of definition. The Republican Party remains one still fully dedicated to maintaining the Republic, that is, a republican form of representative government influenced by a democratic people-oriented system.

Both American political parties, Democratic and Republican, are democratic and republican. They are thus because the present government system of the U.S.A. remains the "democratic-republic," that the Founding Fathers created at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

Despite the leftward lurch of the "Democratic Party" in preferring authoritarian policies, the government of the U.S.A. must still be defined as a "democratic-republican" instead of a monarchy, dictatorship, or totalitarian system.

Both political parties still generally move within the democratic-republican system. The current Republican administration is working to reverse many of the socialistic policies from the previous administration that have hampered the country's economic growth and the individual freedom of the American electorate.

Democratic vs Republican

A number of students of American history enjoy putting their expertise on display by defining the original differences between a "republic" and a "democracy." Their pride of knowledge notwithstanding, they are correct that an important difference does exist.

The utopian notion of a "democracy" has never worked because rule by "all the people" is impossible. It becomes too time-consuming and unwieldy and it grinds to a halt any significant government activity. Imagine trying to formulate a bill while waiting to compile the input from 300-plus million citizens!

That is why the U.S.A. has representatives and senators who represent large constituencies for the purpose of legislating law into practice. Therefore, modern-day employment of the term "democracy" simply designates a government that is citizen-friendly, that is, people-friendly, and not based on hereditary or unelected dictators.

The government of the United States of America began as a republic and remains so today. Citizens send their representatives to do the work in government that would be impossible for vast numbers of working folks to accomplish.

A significant difference then between the terms "democracy" and "republic" has somewhat diminished in modern parlance. American politicians of the major parties speak of "democracy" with great respect as a preferable and valuable form of government. (The exception like Bernie Sanders does come along from time to time, but with any luck the American people will always reject the socialist nonsense.)

The term "democratic" therefore simply suggests that the citizens of a democracy are not subjects as in a monarchical, authoritarian, or hereditary rule. American citizens have a voice as to the manner in which they are governed, even as their laws are created through representatives.

Because of the actual definition of the term, the American president is always a democrat, whether a Democrat or a Republican. The American president is always is elected by the people, and the American president always works for the American citizens.

The term "republican" simply signifies the fact that the citizens elect their representatives to work for them in the government. This representative government, or republic, therefore relieves the citizens from having to travel to the government site, in order to cast their votes on issues that require a vote.

Therefore, as every American president is a democrat, every American president is also always a republican. The American president works within the system that allows its citizens to send representatives to vote for those citizens.

Complicated History of Terminology

The term "Republican" serves as both as an adjective and a noun. However, the term "Democratic" can be used only as an adjective. Linguistically, the citizens of a "democratic" nation are "democrats," not "democratics." The citizens of a "republic" are "republicans" because the term "republics" has never become widely used for individuals; that term signifies only the government type of the nation.

Also, linguistically, the two terms could function similarly for the current major political parties, but they do not: A "Republican" is a member of the "Republican Party," but a "Democrat" is a member of the "Democratic Party." The obverse is unacceptable idiomatically. While a member of the "Democratic Party" is a "Democrat," a member of the "Republican Party" is never a "Republic." That logic is what gave President Bush his "joke" about the "Republic Party."

And the term "Democrat" as a party member is the only usage of that term that the testy Democrats will abide without the "-ic." This kettle of fish means that the pugnacious Democrats will attack those who linguistically employ the noun form in place of the adjectival form in venues other than referring to individuals as Democrats who are members of the "Democratic Party."

The modern usage of the terms for the two major political parties has a complex history; the Founding Fathers were not in favor of "parties," which they saw as "factions," and therefore they failed to anticipate political parties.

However, by the time the third president, Thomas Jefferson, was elected, the party system was beginning to take hold.

Thomas Jefferson's political party was labeled the "Democratic-Republican Party." And as one might expect, both current parties are wont to trace their roots, at least partially, back to Jefferson. However, the Democratic Party's actual founding is more accurately traced back to Andrew Jackson; while the Republican Party's founding began even later in 1854 with the abolition of slavery its motivating issue.


Leaders of countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea— King Salman, Xi Jinping, Raúl Castro, Nicolás Maduro, and Kim Jong-Un— are not democrats; they also are not republicans.

Those leaders are not democratically elected and not accountable to the citizens of their countries. They maintain their position and rule through various authoritarian systems.

A Democrat Triviality

The difference between "Democrat Party" and "Democratic Party" remains a trivial distraction concocted by the "Democratic Party" solely to attack Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and others whose speech patterns are southern influenced when they use the alternative term "Democrat" instead of "Democratic."

The Democrat partisan lightweight, Paul Begala, raised a ruckus about President Bush's use of "Democrat" when referring to the "Democrat congress." Begala's complaint simply revealed him as partisan hack, choosing an easier target than addressing the Democrat failure of policy that started the country on a downward spiral economically.

As they always do, the Democrat bellyachers will continue to deflect from policy debate, thus insuring that they remain focused on meaningless issues instead of trying to defend their failed policies.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


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