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The Democrat(ic?) Party

I was reading a recent CNN article when I got to thinking about just how much democracy there is the so-called democratic Democratic primaries. As the article makes clear in detailing America ‘s left-wing party ‘s rules for primary election, democracy seems not to be the ranking ideal, for good or ill.

First there is the issue of €œsuper-delegates, € former office holders and party officials who are free to vote for whomever they choose. Of these folks there are about 800. Rather than necessarily reflecting the popular choice, these delegates can simply vote their own conscience.

Second there is the issue that even €œpledged delegates € do not necessarily reflect the balance of popular vote either. In the Nevada caucuses, for example, Clinton won the popular vote by 6 or so points, yet Obama came away with 1 more pledged delegate.

To move from a discussion of the essentials of Democracy to the comparably petty realm of politics, there is the funny question of the name of the Democrat(ic?) Party. Hendrik Hertzberg gives an enlightening analysis of The €œIc € Factor in a 2006 New Yorker article. William F. Buckley, Jr. described referencing the party as €˜Democrat ’ amounted to €œinjecting politics into language. € With the Frank Luntzes of the world and their Words That Work (see the €œdeath tax € and €œpersonal retirement accounts €) it is becoming increasing hard to separate words and ideas (on the left and right).

Whether Democrat Party is folksy shorthand or an intentionally grating slur or a deeper comment about the true level of democracy in the Party, the Democrat(ic) primaries do not seem to be entirely democratic. Stay tuned for perhaps a future post about whether the Republican primaries should be considered democratic or, for that matter, republican.


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