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Reply #18: I'm a liberal and I think the word "liberal" was hijacked. [View All]

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Dr Morbius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-05-10 05:21 AM
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18. I'm a liberal and I think the word "liberal" was hijacked.
First by the left, and then the right.

"Social liberalism" is a concept which was huge in the late sixties. It's the concept of a society where everyone gets what they deserve; social liberalism proposes everyone's needs should be met by society at large, and we should each work to fulfill our desires beyond the necessities. It sounds wonderful and terribly impractical. But social liberalism came to be confused with liberalism itself, and as a consequence more recently liberalism has been redefined by the right as a vague high taxes - pro-intrusive-government ideology. Dictionary.com claims liberals believe in progressive government; just another example that in the public mind, there's no difference between progressives and liberals.

Liberalism believes the purpose of government is to establish and maintain justice, making everyone equal before the law and responsible for themselves. This in turn creates a condition of liberty; say and do what you want but take the consequences of your speech and actions. Liberalism, as an ideological base, is the very foundation of America. Most conservatives and most progressives are also liberals; they simply don't know it. Washington was a liberal by his own words. Jefferson was one of history's greatest writers on the subject of liberty; he too was a liberal. But while Washington was essentially a federalist (in favor of a strong central government. though he never publicly or privately approved of either party), Jefferson fought tooth and nail to prevent government from becoming intrusive - he created the nation's first political party and until the civil war it was the party of conservatives. Note that Thomas Jefferson is cited as often (if not moreso) today by the right as the left; the reason is that Jefferson was one of America's first conservative leaders. But he was also a liberal, believing in personal responsibility and freedom.

I define a progressive as someone who believes the role of government is to help society progress (more forward) in the right direction. A conservative is someone who believes in limiting change, and believes government exists only as a necessary evil... and must be restrained to the greatest extent possible. Modern conservatives, especially those in office or leadership positions in the GOP, maintain a terribly inconsistent ideology but frankly, so do modern progressives.

You cannot be progressive and be conservative, but you can be a progressive and not be a liberal. You can be a conservative and also be a liberal. Most Americans, though, are really liberals. They are simply unaware of what it means.
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