Election official toes GOP line

The Washoe County voter registrar published a primary election sample ballot this year that used the Republican Party’s favorite term for the Democrats—the “Democrat Party.” But he won’t be doing it again.

“After talking to several people about that and hearing that some of them felt that this was being used as a pejorative by critics of their party we will go back to the traditional ‘Democratic’ Party for the General Election and in the future,” said voter registrar Dan Burk, who apparently unknowingly stumbled into a partisan dispute. “Initially, we saw ‘Democratic’ as an adjective and the capital ‘D’ Democrat as the proper noun, but it is not our place to select the party’s own name, so we will go with what they wish to call themselves, so ‘Democratic Party’ it is.”

The party is incorporated with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office as the Democratic Party of Nevada. There are a total of 16 party-related organizations also incorporated in Nevada, and none of them uses the term Democrat, nor is there authority in the state statutes for officials to alter the proper legal name of a political party.

For decades, Republican operatives have promoted the use of “Democrat Party” and rationalized their manipulation of the language by claiming that Democrat is the proper term. In the late 1950s, Vice President Richard Nixon told his biographer, Earl Mazo, “Technically speaking, it should be referred to as the Democrat rather than the Democratic Party.” Mazo carefully inserted a footnote to correct Nixon’s belief: “The Greek adjective is demokratikos, which becomes in English ‘democratic.’ There is no Greek source for the adjective ‘democrat'.”

Meanwhile, platform committee hearings in Minnesota for this week’s Republican National Convention produced a surprising outbreak of civility, as rank and file delegates on the committee insisted on referring in the platform to the opposition party by its correct name and dropping the “Democrat Party” favored by party leaders. “We should afford them the respect that they are entitled and call them by their legal name,” said Indiana delegate Jim Bopp.