Progressive or Liberal?


I decided to open my blog with a recent conversation I had regarding political labels. A friend of mine was frustrated at how quickly liberals flinch at being call liberals. This was a hotter topica few years ago,when “progressive” became a popular alternative to the dreaded L-word, but time gives us the luxury of seeing how things played out. In my opinion, it did not play out well.First, a little background. A few decades ago conservatives like Lee Atwater, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh helped turn the word liberal into a slur. Their efforts were so successful that now when people hear the word, even moderates envision unamerican malcontents.And so we’re left with a political climate where it’s safer to come out as gay than to admit that you’re a liberal.  Even our local liberal rag takes pains to scrub the L-word from its pages and relabel itself as “progressive.”The underlying problem of all of this label-changing is that too many liberals have embraced the conservative argument that liberalism can only succeed if people don’t fully realize that they are supporting liberal causes or candidates. Throughout Obama’s first term, Democrats have taken pains to identify their policies as pro-Republican. They felt safer operating under the guise of conservative policies and feared admitting that  their legislation reflected liberal ideology.

The end result is that too many liberals have embraced the meme that conservatism is the norm in our country, and that leaves liberals working within the margins of society while trying to reassure people that they’re not really liberals, they’re progressives. I say that we should reclaim the word “liberal.” let’s not forget that there was a time when the word “conservative’ was just as much of a political liability as the L-word is now.

Sure, there will be short-term consequences, but we shouldn’t live in fear of offending  people. It will take time, but people respond to the courage of ones’ convictions, and once we reclaim the label, more people will see that liberalism really isn’t that radical, and many moderates will realize just how liberal they are. That’s why I proudly call myself a liberal.

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