Columnist’s use of ‘Democrat’ wrong

Ron Gregory stumbled badly on two counts in his Spirit commentary last week (“Moore-Manchin alliance shutting door on Democrat run for Senate”).

He propounded a theory that Sen. Joe Manchin ( a Democrat) has been keeping a strong Democrat out of the race for U.S. Senate to help his supposed buddy Shelley Moore Capito (a Republican) win the seat. With the recent entry of Secretary of State Natalie Tennant into the race Gregory’s theory is shot to smithereens.

Tennant is a top-notch public official. More to the point, Tennant is a champion vote-getter who will prove to be at least Congresswoman Capito’s equal in the race, and I think her superior.

Gregory several times referred to the political party to which I belong as the “Democrat” Party. My old foe Elliot Simon often uses this term, as do many other Republicans.

Is there something about Republicans that causes many of them to not have paid attention when they were in grammar class? The term “Republican” is both a noun and an adjective. The term “Democrat” is a noun, but its adjective is “Democratic.” Therefore, by the rules of American English the party to which “Democrats” belong is the “Democratic” Party.

I’ve heard many Republicans grouse that recent immigrants to our country “don’t speak English well enough.” Republicans, throw not stones, for thy house is glass.

Actually, there may be something more sinister afoot than mere lack of grammar skills.

Back in the 1940s a young Republican governor of Minnesota named Harold Stassen told a group of fellow party members they should not concede that members of the Democratic Party really believed in “democracy.” The Grand Old Party was in the midst of a 30-year campaign to repeal Social Security, which they were convinced had recently (1935) been foisted on an unwary public by that tyrant Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Does this sound familiar?)

Stassen argued that Republicans should begin referring to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat” Party. How that ungrammatical term might make a Democrat seem less supportive of democracy than the grammatically correct one escapes me.

However, many Republican lemmings went along. The cause was advanced most notably by the notorious Joe McCarthy (“Tail-gunner Joe”). He was a Republican U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who claimed he had a list of 254 “card-carrying communists” working for the U.S. State Department. He never found a single one he could prove was a communist, but he was so adept at character assassination that the term “McCarthyism” still means a vicious and dishonest attempt to ruin a person’s reputation.

He also succeeded in persuading many Republicans to demonstrate their incomprehension of language by joining his attempt to turn a noun into an adjective.

A friend of mine (as strong a Democrat as I) once told me he would tell any Republicans who attempted political insult via this particular language distortion that he would refer to their party as the “Publican” Party. I thought about this for awhile but I’d rather not be as ungrammatical as Gregory or Simon.

This goes to show us that we’d all be better off in more ways than one if we could learn to respectfully disagree with our policy opponents, rather than succumb to the temptation to insult them.

John Doyle







Ambulance fee vote was reasonable


In both your editorial “Still Not Ready For ‘Prime Time’” “ and Mr. Clark’s above-the- fold article “Ambulance Fee ‘Too Low,” “padding” in the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency budget is alluded to but in neither the editorial nor the article is the “padding” explained. The JCESA budget request for $1,066,011 covered the nine full-time dual qualified EMT/firefighters (salary, training, equipment, etc.) and two clerks to collect and manage the ambulance fee as well as a “chase vehicle.”

Holding the requested budget level at $1,066,011, the JCESA presented seven options ranging from a residential fee of $85.00 to $45.00. However, if the fee was set at $85.00 (Option 1) JCESA would realize $1,831,645 or $775,634 above their requested budget. If the fee was set at $45.00 (Option 7) the JCESA would realize $1,150,524 or $84,513 above their requested budget. These are their figures. This is the “padding” that the majority of the County Commission rightly rejected.

The JCESA has not explained what it would do with the extra funds and if they had, they might have gotten a sympathetic hearing. The nine EMT/firefighters is justified expansion of government while the two requested clerks to collect the fee is not. There is a tax collection mechanism within the county government to handle that sort of thing. Just last week the Spirit featured an above-the- fold article entitled, “County prepares for budget ax.” Given declining revenues, the County Commission can’t start on the path of trimming the budget one week and approve expanding the bureaucracy the next and still be taken seriously.

Peter Onoszko

Charles Town


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