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When New Is Old

July 14, 2008

Michael Byers, the NDP star candidate for Vancouver Centre, has made some news today by suggesting something that I’ve thought would be a good idea for some time now:

Drop the “New” from the New Democratic Party.

After all, the NDP has existed for 47 years now, no spring chicken considering that all of the popular political parties on today’s scene (except for the Liberals) have existed less than 25 years*.

However, I believe that the reasons for dropping the “New” must not be based on such considerations as “modernizing” the NDP, making the NDP brand more “hip”, geting a boost in the polls, and cashing in on recent events in the United States, because doing so will fail to do all of those things. Big time.

Instead, the reasoning for dropping the “New” should be based on placing us in a better position for the long term.

For one, as I’ve said, we are not new, and by removing the “new”, we will end up with a name that has no temporal quality to it; a name that could used reasonably much longer.

Secondly, I think it states who we are and what we stand for very nicely.

Third of all, I believe that calling ourselves the Democratic Party sounds more broad, more inviting to the average voter, thus reflecting our base better. The “New” to a degree, makes the following words more confusing to a degree. Adding a different name instead of “New” (like “Social”) only serves to make us sound more limited than we are.

Finally, it removes oursleves from acronym hell and the difficultlies that come with it. For instance, having the party being refered as the “Democrats” sounds much better on the ears than the “NDP”, a member could be more easily be called a Democrat instead of a “NDPer”, and maybe a nickname much better than than one evolved from a corruption of “NDPer” being said fast and garbelled could arise (not that I mind the nickname too much).

As those those who would say that calling ourselves the Democratic Party would make us seem that we are copying the Americans, I would suggest that they look at the grander scheme of things.

*Green Party of Canada, 25 years (1981); Bloc Québécois, 17 years (1991); Conservative Party of Canada, 5 years (2003)

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Categories: NDP
  1. July 14, 2008 at 8:01 am

    I am totally in support of the suggestion. Nothing is more important to a New Democrat than ‘democracy’ – just attend an NDP convention for proof of that!

    I had always interpreted the ‘New’ part of the name as referring to a ‘new democracy’ not ‘new’ in terms of the age of the party itself.

    I am definitely in support of this …. I would be proud to be a member of the Democratic Party of Canada.

  2. July 14, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I would be in favour of not dropping the ‘New’, but changing it to ‘Social.’ For SNARC reasons, if nothing else–there’s already one Democratic Party in North America, and that would just be confusing. Besides, I don’t think that’s an analogy we want! At least it’s not one I want.

  3. July 14, 2008 at 8:50 am

    I am with IP, I have always like Social Democrat….when I hear Democratic Party I think of the sad history of the party by the same name south of the border.

  4. July 14, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Social Democrat IS a better description of the philosophy of the party … so I am on board!

  5. July 14, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Why not call it the ‘Labour Party’, which imo would be a far more accurate description and is about as all-encompassing as you can get — nearly everyone works. It’s also a name that has more worldwide success than the ‘Democratic’ party, the name of which makes me think of the countries that call themselves ‘Democratic’ when they really mean ‘Communist’, such as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the full name of North Korea).

    ‘New Democratic Party’ is an even more obsolete name than ‘Canada’s New Government’.

  6. July 14, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I am totally on board with IP, Sean, and leftdog. “Democratic Party” is completely vacuous in democratic country. “Social Democratic Party” reflects both our values and our party constitution. However, I don’t think that it will ever come to pass because we will get bogged down in the “Social Democratic” vs. “Democratic Socialist” debate.

    Incidentally, our party is really about 76 years old. The NDP as such was a merger between the CCF and the CLC. We inherited the debts, assets, and membership of the CCF as well as their political legacy, in much the same way as the Conservative Party is essentially the same organization as the old Progressive Conservative Party.

  7. Northern BC Dipper
    July 14, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    The thing I don’t like about “Social Democratic Party” is that that term “social democrat” is not well known in Canada. As well, it still keeps us in acronym hell. (But the name isn’t too bad, and I could accept it easily).

    In regards to the other countries’ “Democratic Parties”, well, considering it is a common name for political parties around the world, I’m sure that comparisons between the bodies would fast become rather moot.

    But considering the large numbers needed for a name change to pass at a convention, I doubt that anything would happen.

  8. janfromthebruce
    July 14, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    I like democratic party or social democratic party.

  1. July 14, 2008 at 11:06 am
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