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Subject:  Re: Lieberman: Republican or Democrat? Date:  3/1/2006  1:14 PM
Author:  albaby1 Number:  904377 of 2321101

I was resplying to someone that said Democrats weren't looking to get Lieberman out of the party. On another thread, the three of them seemed to express the opinion that Lieberman should indeed get out of the party. If you think I've pigeonholed any of the three of them by calling them Democrats I'd suggest you put the bong away for a few hours and let that buzz you got going wear off a little or your friggin' head will explode.

I think that there's a slight semantic misunderstanding here, caused by the imprecise way we refer to political groups.

There are several different formulations that can be used to talk about Senator Lieberman. Let's take three:

1) There is at least one Democrat that wants to remove Lieberman from the party;
2) Some Democrats want to remove Lieberman from the party;
3) Democrats generally want to remove Lieberman from the party.

By convention, when we speak of "the Democrats" or "the Republicans" being in favor of against a policy position, we are referring to the position that predominates the political groups that are included in that. That phrase is generally not understood as encompassing formulation #1, or even formulation # 2. This is the case even though technically the phrase "the Democrats want to remove Lieberman from the party" could be assigned the meaning of any of the three above.

Thus, it is incorrect to say that Republicans are in favor of liberalizing access to abortion, even though you could certainly find a non-trivial number of Republicans who believe that. That's because the reference to "Republicans" in that context is understood (by convention) to be a reference to the broader party, not small numbers of individuals within the group.

The same holds true when speaking of Democrats and Lieberman. The statement, "Democrats want to remove Lieberman from the party," would be technically true so long as at least two single individuals that are Democrats believe it. However, that phrase would commonly be understood as a reference to the policy position held by Democrats in general, not a small group.

If you like, it's easy to create confusion by ignoring that convention. Once can make statements such as "Republicans favor gay marriage" or "Democrats support bans on stem cell research," and then insist that they are technically accurate because there are indeed some individuals who take those positions. But it doesn't aid discussion.


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