Name Calling: Old Labels Don’t Work Anymore, At Least for Democrats

I have tried over the years to walk a fine line between being labeled a Republican or a Democrat. I’m a registered Independent and in the past, I have voted at times Democratic and at times Republican.
On the other hand, I have to admit that as a journalist, I have sometimes succumbed to what I see clearly in front of me, which is this small group of people who have a whole lot and this large group of people who have very little. I think a majority of journalists stick up for the little guys because of this. I have, on occasion, acted on that too. [expand]

Having said this though, it seems to me in recent years that there has been a shift in how the Republicans and Democrats are painted. Democrats are Liberals and Old Lefties and those words now ring just terrible. On the other hand, Republicans are Conservatives and Members of the Right. There is little else the Democrats have to throw at them. And it’s not effective.
I have thought long and hard about this shift. And I have come to the conclusion that it all has to do with America’s place in the world. Until about 1990, America had all the money and was the unchallenged economic leader of the world. A Liberal was somebody who said – okay, we’ve got it all, let’s give some of it away. And we did. That rang true to a lot of people.

Today, America is losing its grip and there doesn’t seem much we can do about it. There’s less money around. Under the circumstances, it makes absolute sense that we have Conservatives leading the way, uh, conserving things. Those Liberals are intent on using their liberalness to give it all away.
As for the other terms, it was okay until about 1990 that there be “lefties” and those “right of center,” but that year, the old Soviet Union collapsed, proving that left-wing Communist thinking was a disaster. The only right way was, well, the Right.

And it got worse. As the years passed, some Democrats got called “Old Lefties,” as if they were part of that small group of Americans who were members of the Communist party in the 1930s. This was a term made popular in the 1950s to refer to a small number of Americans who in the 1930s became members of the Communist Party.

So that’s it. What we’ve got here now is an unfair playing field. The Republicans can do all this name-calling and look good. The Democrats try name calling and the words just come out sounding as if the names they are calling are right all along. Right?
Republicans may fight with what I am about to say, and I am sure they will vote in lockstep along party lines to prevent it coming into general use when the time comes, but the truth is, the Democrats need some new words to paint the Republicans with. And these words need to be fraught with meaning that is just terrible. Thus can the playing field be leveled.

I’ve come up with a few ideas. I am only one person thinking about this though—and I don’t think anybody has thought about this before—and so what I have come up with is limited. What really is needed is a big-time Madison Avenue Ad Agency, paid handsomely, and putting its thinking caps on. But until then, there’s me.

First of all, here’s one thing I think cannot be used. Stay away from elephants. The Republicans are elephants. It’s their symbol. But I can think of nothing bad about an elephant that would help the Democratic cause here. Elephants are easy-going, jovial, glad to help and never forget. It’s true they charge irrationally or stampede in panic when threatened. That might help a little. But not much, I fear.
I do recall, in the waning days of the Bush administration in 2007 as McCain and Obama were battling down to the finish line, Wall Street collapsed. Bush began thinking of what to do. And his aides told him to invite McCain and Obama to the White House to get their views. They came. Obama said this and that and made suggestions to Bush, and some of what Obama suggested Bush put into place. And some of what Bush suggested Obama supported.

McCain, on the other hand, rode into town on a private jet, came to the Situation Room and basically said, okay everybody, tell me what to do. I haven’t got a clue. But I’m here. How am I doing? He was, at that moment, in full stampede. But like I said, in a war of name-calling, “elephant” won’t do, where there’s another group that can easily be called a bunch of donkeys.
The closest I have been able to come to this for the Democrats is “stuck-in-the-past-ers.” It has to be plural. You’re one of the stuck-in-the-past-ers. One of those who wants only to apply yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems.

I agree there is something clumsy and awkward about this phrase. Like I said, though, I’m only one guy. Help me out here.

And so I send out this clarion call for assistance to both the flaming liberal lefties and the wise conservatives always right.

This is America. We need fairness. And right now we don’t have that. The Democrats should have rights too.

Did I say right?

Send your ideas to dan@danspapers.com. Maybe I can make another story out of it. [/expand]

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