Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Publican Party

There is some question as to when the Republicans first began referring to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat Party." New Yorker magazine editor Hendrik Hertzberg notes that as far back as the Harding administration and through the Joe McCarthy era, Republicans used this term as a frequent insult, but it was Newt Gingrich and Frank Luntz in the 1990's that insisted this term be used and it has stuck ever since. You will rarely hear a Republican refer to the party by its actual name.

There are various reasons why Republicans think this is a useful slur. One is that it galls them to use the word "Democratic" because the word carries too many positive connotations. My feeling is that they enjoy the way the word ends in "rat." Whatever. The point is that it is an intended insult, it is incorrect and should be corrected every time it is used.

To combat this, I suggest we beat them at their own game. Obviously, we have come up with all sorts of variations on "Republican," like Repug, Republicant, Rethuglican, Repiglican, and of course asshole jerkoff pig-fuckers. The problem is, none of these terms can be glibly used by Democratic politicians, strategists, analysts or TV pundits, especially "Repiglican," We need a slyly shortened form of "Republican" that simply sounds like a slip of the tongue.

I humbly suggest "Publican." Here's a brief Wikipedia description of the term. It is yummy:

In antiquity, publicans (Latin publicanus (singular); publicani (plural)) were public contractors, in which role they often supplied the Roman legions and military, managed the collection of port duties, and oversaw public building projects. In addition, they served as tax collectors for the Republic (and later the Roman Empire), bidding on contracts (from the Senate in Rome) for the collection of various types of taxes. Importantly, this role as tax collectors was not emphasized until late into the history of the Republic (c. 1st century BC). The publicans were usually of the class of equites.

At the height of the Republic's era of provincial expansion (roughly the 1st and 2nd centuries BC until the end of the Republic) the Roman tax farming system was very profitable for the publicani. The right to collect taxes for a particular region would be auctioned every few years for a value that (in theory) approximated the tax available for collection in that region. The payment to Rome was treated as a loan and the publicani would receive interest on their payment at the end of the collection period. In addition, any excess (over their bid) tax collected would be pure profit for the publicani. The principal risk to the publicani was that the tax collected would be less than the sum bid.

By New Testament times, publicans were seen chiefly as tax collectors by provincial peoples. It is in this sense that the term is used in Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. However, their role as public contractors, especially as regards building projects, was still significant. With the rise of a much larger Imperial bureaucracy, this task of the publicans, as well as their overall importance, declined precipitously. Evidence for the existence of publicans extends as far back as the 3rd century BC, although it is generally assumed that they existed at still earlier times in Roman history. Knowledge of a tentative terminus post quem is taken from the histories of the 1st century AD Imperial historian Livy.

By the time of the Renaissance, the word "publican" meant a tavernkeeper (the licensed landlord of a public house), and by extension a slang term for a pimp. In England in the late 12th century there existed a religious sect called the publicani. Among their beliefs was the view that procreation was a sin.

Is that great or what? Saw the "pimp" part, right? Let's use Publican. Encourage your friends to use it. Encourage your elected representatives to use it. It sounds innocent, just like saying "Democrat" instead of "Democratic." I plan to use this term from here on out and will reserve asshole jerkoff pig-fuckers for special occasions, like funerals.

© 2011 Kona Lowell

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