The Furnace

Yes, it is called the Democratic Party

They get to pick their name

Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP

Part of the joy of having my name and email address on the masthead is that I get lots of emails from readers. Some of these comments and suggestions are quite helpful, even if they have nothing to do with the news division of this company.

Probably the most common complaint I get via email is that we refer to candidates and/or politicians as being members of the "Democratic Party." I get probably an email a day helpfully "correcting" us for using this term and informing us that there is nothing democratic about that party and therefore we should not use the word "democratic" and instead should only refer to them as the "democrat party."

I realize that the reason for this is that many talk radio hosts, including Rush Limbaugh, have made this claim for years. Talk radio hosts deal in entertainment and therefore they can call the Democratic Party whatever they want, including the "Democrat Party." The one and only issue I have with calling them the "Democrat Party" is that it's not correct.

Companies and political parties have the absolute right to call themselves whatever they want. When Cingular Wireless acquired portions of AT&T and rebranded as AT&T Wireless, in the news business we started calling them AT&T Wireless because that's how it works.

Similarly, the Democratic Party could start calling themselves the Pink Penguin Party and as long as they made the name change official it would be incumbent upon us, when covering news, to refer to their candidates as members of the Pink Penguin Party even though there isn't a pink penguin among them (at least, not this year).

The official name of the party is the Democratic Party, as determined by the Democratic National Committee. Calling the party by its correct, official name isn't an endorsement of their practices or a concession that any democracy is happening within the party, in just the same way that referring to the Democratic Republic of Congo or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea doesn't indicate that you think that either of those countries is actually "democratic" (they are not).

If it bothers you to refer to the party by their proper name then you may of course refer to them however you like. I'm certainly not here to change anyone's mind on the internal practices of the Democratic Party. But their official name is the Democratic Party and so for news purposes that is how we will refer to them.

Thank you for reading.

One last thing…
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