Channeling FDR, Rep. Jamie Raskin Corrects Those Across the Aisle: “Just Call Us the Democracy”

In these two brief clips, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), in his inimitable way, is trying to get his colleagues across the aisle on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee to refrain from an oft-used slur against Democrats: referring to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party.” (This slur has a time-dishonored history; see the PS* below.) Raskin states that the Republicans’ frequent use of it is “an act of incivility.”

This man is now more than half way through chemotherapy for a very serious, but treatable, lymphoma–which does not seem to have sapped his energy and vigor. The cap he is wearing in these videos was given to him by musician Stevie Van Zandt (of Bruce Springstein’s E Street Band) to cover his treatment-balded pate in style.

In the first video, he is responding to Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who has apparently persisted in using the grammatical error. He also slips in a correction to a procedural error she has made.

In the second clip, Raskin continues the discussion, now broadening his points by quoting FDR to make a sweeping, significant, substantive distinction between the two parties.

As many of us often complain that the Democrats aren’t good at messaging, I think Rep. Raskin’s brief response to the Republicans’ incivility bears repeating. Returning to the Republicans’ “self-imposed speech impediment–they can’t pronounce the name of our party in its adjectival form,” he offers them a suggestion:

“…You know what President Roosevelt called our party? Not the Democratic Party, much less the Democrat Party. If you can’t pronounce it, do what Roosevelt did. He called us the democracy. He said ‘The economic royalists, the corporate plutocrats, say if you invest in the wealthiest people in our society, some of the wealth will trickle down on everybody else. But the democracy says if you invest in the great working middle class of America, we will all rise and prosper together.’

“That’s the doctrine of democracy. If you can’t pronounce the name of our party, just call us the democracy. That’s what we are today. We defend the right to vote. And we defend free and fair elections, and we stand by the results of elections. And we defend not only the country and our democratic allies all over the world, as in Ukraine, we defend this body–we defend this chamber, we defend the Capitol of the United States, and we defend the interests of the working majority of the United States.

So the American people are not asking for more reports and more bureaucracy. They’re asking for action, and that’s what the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress are giving them…”

I love Jamie Raskin’s passion, wit, and erudition–and most of all, his devotion to our country!


*PS: If you’re wondering, as I was, how and why the Republicans decided to insult the Democratic Party by removing the “ic” from the party’s name, this article–“The Real Origins of the ‘Democrat Party’ Troll”--will tell you more than you probably want to know. Not surprisingly, what Raskin called this “incivility” is on the rise.

30 thoughts on “Channeling FDR, Rep. Jamie Raskin Corrects Those Across the Aisle: “Just Call Us the Democracy”

  1. That Republican grammatical quirk has long annoyed me. As Raskin explains in the second clip, it’s just a matter of grammar — many words have a slightly different form depending on whether they’re used as nouns or adjectives. It’s like the distinction between “religion” and “religious” — you wouldn’t say “he is a very religion person”. It sounds illiterate.

    I suspect many of them dimly grasp this, but persist in the error because (a) they know it’s annoying and (b) they like to sound anti-intellectual by using ungrammatical speech.

    The Slate article suggests that this exercise in performative dumbth dates back a lot further than I suspected. It reminds me of the practice some people make of refusing to capitalize the first letter of the names of politicians they dislike. They imagine they are showing disrespect (because they mistakenly believe the capital letter is a mark of respect rather than a proper-noun marker), whereas in fact all they have done is commit an orthographic error.

    “Democrat party” is a similar display of ignorance, but it’s performative ignorance. They won’t stop doing it because being irritating and flouting grammatical standards are conscious goals for them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree that they won’t stop doing it, Infidel—precisely for the reasons you cite. And I’m pretty sure Jamie Raskin doesn’t think so either. But I like the way he’s using his position as the ranking member of the committee in this wacky House: both spotlighting the “performative ignorance” (a good term) and contrasting it, and these hearings, with the Democrats’ serious efforts to govern.

      And though I really thought I was showing disrespect to the former guy by not capitalizing his name, I shall cease that practice, chastened as I am now!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Civility is an aspect of civilization and “they” want war not peace. Nice people don’t go to war.
    They hope to provoke a savage response so they can behave as the savages they are.

    Mitchell Sanders was right. For the common soldier, at least, war has the feel-the spiritual texture-of a great ghostly fog, thick and permanent. There is no clarity. Everything swirls. The old rules are no longer binding, the old truths no longer true. Right spills over into wrong. Order blends into chaos, love into hate, ugliness into beauty, law into anarchy, civility into savagery. The vapors suck you in. You can’t tell where you are, or why you’re there, and the only certainty is overwhelming ambiguity.
    Tim O’Brien

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think we have to go to Tim O’Brien’s stories about war to find that fog, Richard. It’s been imposed upon us by cynical lying politicians and alleged “news” orgs who turn truth upside down and make people confused and fearful.


  3. Ever since Jamie Raskin first came onto my radar a few years ago, I have very much admired him, never more so than now! His speech on the floor of the House was excellent, and I loved the Roosevelt quote! Thanks for this one, Annie!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    I think Jamie Raskin first crossed my radar in 2021 when he served as the impeachment manager for Trump’s second impeachment. He spoke intelligently and with passion and I was impressed. Then he played a large role on the January 6th Committee and again, I was impressed. He is intelligent, but also understands the value of Our friend Annie has a couple of clips of Mr. Raskin’s recent comments to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee that I thoroughly enjoyed … this man has much potential and is living up to it! Thank you, Annie, for sharing his clips and the wit, wisdom, and passion of Representative Raskin!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much, Jill! I’ve been a Jamie Raskin fan for years, but I was unprepared for the emotions I felt while listening to him read his memoir, “Unthinkable.” It’s a beautiful, tragic blending of his reactions to the two unthinkable events occurring around the same time: the suicide of his brilliant, magical son Tommy, and January 6th. Consider him grieving over that overwhelming personal tragedy, accepting Speaker Pelosi’s “lifeline” to head the House’s impeachment effort, and setting down his thoughts with sweeping historical references, insights, and humor…what a rare person he is, and how lucky we are that he’s chosen to bestow his prodigious gifts on our country.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ‘Twas my pleasure, Annie! I have read “Unthinkable” but not heard him narrate it. I can only imagine, for just reading it brought tears to my eyes more than once. I think he may well be one of the rising stars of the Democracy Party!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m glad you read “Unthinkable,” Jill. It was an unforgettable experience for me. I think Jamie Raskin has already earned his place not only in the Democracy Party, but also in our nation’s history.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad Raskin is making an issue of this. I swear I’ve heard journalists also use the word Democrat in this way, and they weren’t on Fox News. I had started to accept that the language was simply evolving in a way I didn’t like and that I might as well accept it. I hope he’s pulling us back from the brink.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so too, Carol. But he can’t do it alone. I hope his fellow Democrats keep up publicly chastising the Republicans for what Raskin rightly calls the “act of incivility” as well. I also hope his colleagues assume the forceful messaging he uses in defining the differences between the parties. His clever reference in the first tape —“It’s as if we said ‘the Banana Republicans,’ but we wouldn’t do that”—reminds us of the nonsense hearings and blatant lies that are now the House majority’s substitute for governing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Annie, this is a needed post. Two things. Since CPAC just completed it should be noted that Donald Trump is the only president to speak there as it has historically been viewed by Republicans as too extreme. Now that the Republican Party has allowed the extreme part to be mainstream running off the moderate folks, I personally do not view it as the GOP anymore.

    I do like the pushback of Raskin. Just call them Democracy. As an independent voter and former member of both parties, while not perfect, I view the Democrats as more issue oriented and protective of our Constitution and democracy. I view the once proud Republican Party as adrift, untethered to the truth. People have to swear allegiance to a Big Lie which even Fox News reveals they knew was a lie but spread it anyway and sand away the seditious actions of the former president.

    If people care about our democracy, they should not vote for anyone who swears allegiance to this election fraud BS spawned because a person who was president has too fragile an ego to admit he lost because that would make him what he fears being called most – a loser. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Joni. Good to hear from you! I hope everything is ok.

      I’m looking forward to hearing Rep. Raskin announce that his doctors have given him good news.

      As for Banana Republican Party, the phrase is apt for many reasons associated with the Big Lie—not least of them Jim Jordan’s subcommittee to investigate the “Weaponization of the Government” and McCarthy’s craven handing over the tapes of the Jan 6 Committee hearings to Tucker Carlson. But, Raskin says wryly, he and his colleagues wouldn’t use that term!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes everything is fine….just been busy. I was behind 10 days in reader and haven’t blogged for a month, but I’ll get back at it. I don’t understand that whole Tucker Carlson/ Fox thing and the Dominion/Murdock lawsuit???? If they go on Fox and deliberately lie and are caught out by emails saying the opposite doesn’t that make them all hypocrites? And do they report that to their viewers or just hope they don’t watch any other news? The lack of journalistic ethics is just mind-boggling….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Glad everything is ok. What you don’t understand is, I think, incomprehensible to any of us not caught in the Republican/Trumpian conspiratorial underworld. “Hypocrites” doesn’t begin to describe it; our democracy has been greatly damaged by it.

        Liked by 1 person

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