The "L" word rehabilitated?

The "L" word rehabilitated?

by digby

My piece for Salon this morning discusses what seems to be a rehabilitation of the word liberal --- now that they have "progressives" to hate. Here's the thing: it doesn't matter what we call ourselves --- they are going to demonize it exactly the same way.

There was a time in the not so distant past when the “L” word (“liberal”) was so toxic that only the most die-hard, Birkenstock-shod, soy latte swillers would even dare to identify as such. It was almost as if you were confessing to an affinity for bestiality or a taste for human blood to admit to it in anything but whispered tones among only your closest friends. One called oneself a “moderate” or an “independent” and despite the fact that a large number of people supported liberal policies, they usually felt the need to issue a standard disclaimer to the effect of “I’m not a liberal but … I am a pro-choice, pro civil rights, civil libertarian defender of the welfare state who believes in a strong activist government and mistrusts the military industrial complex.” Just don’t call me the “L” word because I’m anything but that.

It wasn’t always the case. Classical liberalism has been around for many a moon and has a long pedigree on all sides of the political spectrum. But in the modern American parlance, at least, the word “liberal” was most closely tied to FDR’s New Deal, and many members of both parties proudly identified themselves as liberal for decades. President Kennedy called himself a liberal and defined it in these terms:

“someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions…someone who cares about the welfare of the people”
That was obviously in contrast to conservatism, a cramped philosophy obsessed with the past, lacking creativity, tradition bound and unmoved by the concerns of the average person.

Click the link to see none other than Charles "Bell Curve" Murray writing that he knows some liberals and they're ok, it's just those progressives he really can't stand. Naturally, he describes progressives exactly the same way he used to describe liberals. And liberals, whom he now says he respects, are ok because they have principled disagreements with President Obama and believe in free speech --- intellectual attributes conservatives attributed to both authoritarian and traitorous tendencies when applied to Republican presidents. Go figure.