T Nation

Ban the Word Liberal

The word liberal needs to be banned in most cases. It’s become and been used as a tar-and-feather job against politicians and people whose policies aren’t even close to liberal.

Anytime anyone calls anyone a liberal whose politics aren’t relatively close to Ted Kennedy’s, I am going to come back with ‘lunatic-fringe reactionary’ for every politician and politics are more than a little bit right of center.

It’s a major coup for the right wing that the word “liberal” has been morphed into a negatively branded label. It makes it so much easier to employ the hugely popular “discredit” tactic.

Why has the term liberal become such a negative thing? Because people associate it with things it doesn’t really mean.

Liberal - More change socially, more spending economically.

Conservative - Less change socially (return to status-quo or normalcy), less spending economically.

The word liberal has become negative because it’s associated with reckless spending, unrealistic programs to help the disadvantaged, EXCESSIVE spending to help the disadvantaged, etc… My own poltiical leanings are much more centrist, but I do not think this characterization of liberals is quite accurate or fair. But it bothers me far more that extremists and/or people on the Bush band wagon label everyone that disagrees with him liberal no matter how far their policies are from traditional liberal views, policies, and ideology.

Well, the shame of it is that such an important word got hijacked - and that hijacking has come back to haunt the Left. Some label had to be attached to the disjointed, 60s-era left-wing radicalism, and FDR’s New Liberalism was co-opted for its label. Since there is a natural revulsion against that political movement and its vestiges by the moderate-conservative America (the majority), it became a slur to be easily used.

I hate it that the word “liberal” has come to mean what it does - after all, American conservatives are, by and large, all liberals.

But it doesn’t do much to complain about “liberal” when “conservative” is used to describe all sorts of unsavory behaviors in short, sound-bite order.

I don’t think “liberal” should be a dirty word, and on a broader note, I wish liberals (American kind) and conservatives could reclaim the political field from the Left and the Right. I don’t think the previous two are necessarily synonymous with the latter.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
The word liberal has become negative because it’s associated with reckless spending, unrealistic programs to help the disadvantaged, EXCESSIVE spending to help the disadvantaged, etc… My own poltiical leanings are much more centrist, but I do not think this characterization of liberals is quite accurate or fair.[/quote]

But part of the problem is that those who do support such principles want and have used “liberal” to describe themselves. If true liberals think that is a mischaracterization, they have to take the name back.

“Liberal” was used derogatorily long before Bush became President.

And the same is true of the other side with the word “conservative” - as in, there is nothing “conservative” about corruption in government or wasteful fiscal policy, but the label is affixed all the same in the name of hoping to slur an opponent.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Well, the shame of it is that such an important word got hijacked - and that hijacking has come back to haunt the Left. Some label had to be attached to the disjointed, 60s-era left-wing radicalism, and FDR’s New Liberalism was co-opted for its label. Since there is a natural revulsion against that political movement and its vestiges by the moderate-conservative America (the majority), it became a slur to be easily used.

I hate it that the word “liberal” has come to mean what it does - after all, American conservatives are, by and large, all liberals.

But it doesn’t do much to complain about “liberal” when “conservative” is used to describe all sorts of unsavory behaviors in short, sound-bite order.

I don’t think “liberal” should be a dirty word, and on a broader note, I wish liberals (American kind) and conservatives could reclaim the political field from the Left and the Right. I don’t think the previous two are necessarily synonymous with the latter.[/quote]

I agree with everything in this post.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
The word liberal has become negative because it’s associated with reckless spending, unrealistic programs to help the disadvantaged, EXCESSIVE spending to help the disadvantaged, etc… My own poltiical leanings are much more centrist, but I do not think this characterization of liberals is quite accurate or fair.

But part of the problem is that those who do support such principles want and have used “liberal” to describe themselves. If true liberals think that is a mischaracterization, they have to take the name back.

But it bothers me far more that extremists and/or people on the Bush band wagon label everyone that disagrees with him liberal no matter how far their policies are from traditional liberal views, policies, and ideology.

“Liberal” was used derogatorily long before Bush became President.

And the same is true of the other side with the word “conservative” - as in, there is nothing “conservative” about corruption in government or wasteful fiscal policy, but the label is affixed all the same in the name of hoping to slur an opponent.
[/quote]

I know. That’s why I said extremists and/OR those on the Bush wagon. I do think the tar-and-feather job and mischaracterizations coming from both sides are worse now than ever.

There’s nothing wrong with the word Liberal.

If you don’t like that word, then use the word Progressive. But there is nothing wrong with the word Liberal, and people shouldn’t be pussies about using it.

I think the word Liberal will make a resurgence in popularity eventually, but it might take a long time. The right wing has been demonizing the word for at least 30 years on a widespread basis. Much like the right has been using the phrase “Democrat Party” since the late 60s-70s. There is no such thing as the “Democrat Party”. There is a DEMOCRATIC Party, which is the correct name of the party.

If you use the phrase Democrat Party you are either purposely trying to annoy Democrats, or you are unknowingly demonstrating how effective the Right has steered the mass media into using that phrase, over the last 30 years.

Democrats should insist on Republicans calling the party the correct name… just like if your boss at work always calls you Bob but your name is Frank, if you don’t correct him then you’re enabling someone to disrespect you.

Democrat, Democratic. Whatever. Who cares. There is something wrong with the word liberal. There’s something wrong with the connotation its taken on. As Thunderbolt said, it’s become linked to radicalism which is not what true liberalism is or was. People use the word liberal to try to paint someone as a bleeding-heart crackpot.

And too many people think of liberals as such. I don’t personally agree with true liberal philosophies either. But they do not fit this mold. The more annoying thing, as I said, is how liberal is used as a swear word against those who don’t even have ture liberal policies and ideologies. Compounded with the connotation the word liberal’s taken on, it’s a nice label to try to discredit someone.

I always call myself a liberal… I’m far more ashamed to call myself a Democrat after they’ve been such pussies for the last eight years.

People who use liberal like a slur are by and large idiots, being as, like Thunder said, all American politicians are more or less classic liberals.

I refuse to ban the word- I’d rather call myself one, and bring the word back to where it should be.

If someone calls you a liberal in a bad way, call them a neocon. They love that shit.

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
I always call myself a liberal… I’m far more ashamed to call myself a Democrat after they’ve been such pussies for the last eight years.

People who use liberal like a slur are by and large idiots, being as, like Thunder said, all American politicians are more or less classic liberals.

I refuse to ban the word- I’d rather call myself one, and bring the word back to where it should be.

If someone calls you a liberal in a bad way, call them a neocon. They love that shit.[/quote]

Yes. From now on, anyone who misuses and misapplies the word liberal [particularly on these forums, as that is largely what I was referring ] shall be called a lunatic-fringe neocon. And so it is written. So it shall be.

Sorry, I’m stupid… what’s a neocon?

[quote]Agressive Napkin wrote:
Sorry, I’m stupid… what’s a neocon?[/quote]

“Neocon” is the cheap, lazy, unspecific attempt at a slur of generally anyone center-right not liked, and more specifically, supporters of the Iraq war (even liberal hawks have not immune to the label).

It is short for “neoconservative”, which actually has an ideology all its own.

[quote]vroom wrote:
It’s a major coup for the right wing that the word “liberal” has been morphed into a negatively branded label. It makes it so much easier to employ the hugely popular “discredit” tactic.[/quote]

Great point as always!

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Agressive Napkin wrote:
Sorry, I’m stupid… what’s a neocon?

“Neocon” is the cheap, lazy, unspecific attempt at a slur of generally anyone center-right not liked, and more specifically, supporters of the Iraq war (even liberal hawks have not immune to the label).

It is short for “neoconservative”, which actually has an ideology all its own.[/quote]

A Neocon, by actual stance, is a term sed to descrbe the new breed of social conservatives whose support stems from the evangelical Christian community. They are vehemently Pro-life/Anti-choice, Anti-Euthanasia, and Anti-Gay Marriage/Union/Adopting/Ect… In 2000, Bush won with his main support being from the neo-con community.

It really doesn’t describe most of the people the term is attached to.

At least, this is my understanding. Someone wanna correct me if I’m wrong here?

[quote]Beowolf wrote:

A Neocon, by actual stance, is a term sed to descrbe the new breed of social conservatives whose support stems from the evangelical Christian community. They are vehemently Pro-life/Anti-choice, Anti-Euthanasia, and Anti-Gay Marriage/Union/Adopting/Ect… In 2000, Bush won with his main support being from the neo-con community.

It really doesn’t describe most of the people the term is attached to.

At least, this is my understanding. Someone wanna correct me if I’m wrong here?[/quote]

Not even close. Neoconservatives were distinguished by their views on foreign policy - and in fact were “reformed” liberals and socialists originally who emerged from the Cold War as hawks because they were “liberals mugged by reality”. As such, many neoconservatives were actually less socially “conservative” than other conservatives, especially on domestic policy issues.

As Beowulf demonstrated, it has become a cheap slur unmoored from its original meaning - just like Liberal. “Neocon” means nothing, other than the fact that user of it has no idea what the hell he is talking about.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
…“Neocon” means nothing, other than the fact that user of it has no idea what the hell he is talking about.[/quote]

Exactly.

Then in the interest of fairness, I’m sure that jsbrook will want that word banned as well, along with terms like “homophobe”, “xenophobe”,“bigot”, “sexist”, etc. that really don’t apply to the intended insultee whatsoever.

There is nothing slanderous about the word liberal. Essentially, anyone living in the “Western” world that believes in the core principles of “liberty” (as in, freedom to pursue individual happiness) and freedom of thought, is a liberal.

On the other hand, I not sure the same thing can be said about a “neocon”–whatever the correct definition is. That is a label that probably only fits a certain few on the right.