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Waverley_Hills_Hiker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 04:44 PM
Original message
change in meaning of the term Liberal in America.
As the more politically savvy of you know "Liberal" in England, Europe, and elsewhere in the world does not mean what it does in the USA.

In the US the term has come to mean a sort of reformist approach to politics and economy, calling for civil liberties, antidiscrimination legislation, economic and environmental regulation and, if needed, intervention, and so forth...basically aspects of the old Progressive and New Deal agenda.

I was wondering if anyone is knowlegeable enough about political history who could tell me how the term became to be used in the US to mean what used to be called "Progressive" or "New Deal"....or when the term started to be used to mean these things.
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Don_G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 04:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. The "Fairness Act" Disappeared With Regan
And Limpballz et al crafted the meaning of the word to mean everything "they" wanted it to since "they" didn't have a challanger.

"Sort of" nothing!!!

I have my opinion about the DLC over 20+ years and isn't kind.
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Waverley_Hills_Hiker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 04:58 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. thats not what Im talking about.
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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 04:54 PM
Response to Original message
2. Merriam-Webster definition-
Main Entry: 1liberal
Pronunciation: 'li-b(&-)r&l
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English lEodan to grow, Greek eleutheros free
1 a : of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts <liberal education> b archaic : of or befitting a man of free birth
2 a : marked by generosity : OPENHANDED <a liberal giver> b : given or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal> c : AMPLE, FULL
3 obsolete : lacking moral restraint : LICENTIOUS
4 : not literal or strict : LOOSE <a liberal translation>
5 : BROAD-MINDED; especially : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms
6 a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives

I'm quite happy to let people know I'm a liberal. I especially like it when I'm in the company of conservative Republicans....drives them crazy that anyone will admit to it.

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progressiveBadger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I leave my Moore and Franken books out on my coffee table
when I am expecting conservative company.
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Waverley_Hills_Hiker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. yes it doesnt mean all that in the USA, though...
,,,if you follow the hypelink at liberalims in the #6 definition (yes Ive surfed it too),
you will see that this is defined as:

Main Entry: liberalism
Pronunciation: 'li-b(&-)r&-"li-z&m
Function: noun
1 : the quality or state of being liberal
2 a often capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity b : a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard c : a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties d capitalized : the principles and policies of a Liberal party

b. is not what is meant by liberalism in the USA, as American liberals usually beleive is some form of economic regulation or, if needed, intervention (such as the housing mortgage and deposit insurance systems).

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bigbillhaywood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:04 PM
Response to Original message
5. Good question. I'm guessing the US version of the term
came about either around the New Deal or shortly thereafter. Leftist folk singer Phil Ochs had a song (I believe in the late 40s or early 50s) called "Love Me I'm A Liberal", where he was basically poking fun at what people would call today "limousine liberals".
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EndElectoral Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
6. Good definition
I like the definition of liberal supplied by a Republican. Senator Robert Taft, son of the former president, and Republican Conservative defined what liberal meant to him, during the WW II years. Most people are unaware of it today. It is in Kennedys Profiles in Courage:

"Liberalism implies particularly fredom of thought, freedom from orthodox dogma. The right of others to think differently from one's self. It implies a free mind, open to new ideas, and willing to give attentive consideration. When I say liberty, I mean liberty of the individual to think his own thoughts and live his own life as he desires to think and live."

But this one makes me laugh from Rogets Thesaurus:
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Nevernose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:08 PM
Response to Original message
7. 1781
Taking a page from *Old and in the Way*, I give you the OED's defintions 4a, 4b, and 5:

4. a. Free from narrow prejudice; open-minded, candid.

1781 GIBBON Decl. & F. xxx. III. 142 A Grecian philosopher, who visited Constantinople soon after the death of Theodosius, published his liberal opinions concerning the duties of kings. 1803 Med. Jrnl. IX. 444 A liberal investigation of the curative power of topical cold to arthritic inflammation. 1817 J. EVANS Excurs. Windsor etc. 20 The late Dr. Watson..published a liberal reply to the Historian in his Apology for Christianity. 1818 JAS. MILL Brit. India II. V. viii. 684 Liberal enquiries into the literature and institutions of the Hindus. 1849 MACAULAY Hist. Eng. iv. I. 467 The resentment which Innocent felt towards France, disposed him to take a mild and liberal view of the affairs of England.

b. esp. Free from bigotry or unreasonable prejudice in favour of traditional opinions or established institutions; open to the reception of new ideas or proposals of reform.
Hence often applied as a party designation to those members of a church or religious sect who hold opinions broader or more advanced than those in accordance with its commonly accepted standard of orthodoxy, e.g. in Liberal Catholic. Liberal Christian: in the U.S. chiefly applied to the Unitarians and Universalists; in England somewhat more vaguely to those who reject or consider unessential any considerable part of the traditional system of belief; so liberal Christianity, liberal theology. Also in application to Judaism.

1823 (title) The liberal Christian. 1828 (title) Which society shall you join, liberal or orthodox? 1846 O. W. HOLMES A Rhymed Lesson 308 Thine eyes behold A cheerful Christian from the liberal fold. 1862 Dublin Rev. Nov. 48 Our friends the liberal Catholics may be interested in a note to F. Faber's treatise. 1876 O. B. FROTHINGHAM Transcendentalism New Eng. vi. 128 It may be inferred that Transcendentalism in New England was a movement within the limits of liberal Christianity or Unitarianism as it was called. 1886 W. P. ROBERTS Liberalism in Religion 56, I maintain that Liberal Protestantism, Liberal Christianity, is not anti-dogmatic, is not anti-theological. Ibid. 59 Now I am positively for dogma, and so I am sure is every Liberal Christian. 1886 W. BARRY in Fortn. Rev. Feb. 185 It would still appear to me..that the Liberal Protestantism of the day is a makeshift. 1900 Jewish Q. Rev. July 618 (heading) Liberal Judaism in England. Ibid., These liberal Jews have no organization. 1920 R. MACAULAY Potterism VI. v. 253 Modernist liberal-catholic vicars asked him to preach. 1957 Oxf. Dict. Chr. Ch. 807/1 The Liberal Catholics who formed a distinguished group in the RC Church in the 19th cent. were for the most part theologically orthodox, but they favoured political democracy and ecclesiastical reform... Liberal Protestantism..developed into an anti-dogmatic and humanitarian reconstruction of the Christian faith. 1965 Sunday Times 5 Feb. 5/3 A plan for a national conference of non-orthodox synagogues, Reform (progressive) and Liberal. 1968 B. M. G. REARDON (title) Liberal Protestantism. 1974 Times Lit. Suppl. 19 Apr. 424/4 Judaism is divided into Orthodox, Conservative and Reform varieties following the American terminology, and not into the British Orthodox, Reform and Liberal camps.

5. Of political opinions: Favourable to constitutional changes and legal or administrative reforms tending in the direction of freedom or democracy. Hence used as the designation of the party holding such opinions, in England or other states; opposed to Conservative. Liberal-Labour, of or pertaining to (persons associated with or sympathetic to) both the Liberal and the Labour parties. So Liberal Labourism. Cf. LIB-LAB a.
In Liberal Conservative, the adj. has rather sense 4 than this sense; the combination, however, is often hyphened, which perhaps indicates that it is interpreted as = partly Liberal, partly Conservative. Liberal Unionist: a member of the party formed by those Liberals who refused to support Mr. Gladstone's measure of Irish Home Rule in 1886.

1801 HEL. M. WILLIAMS Sk. Fr. Rep. I. xi. 113 The extinction of every vestige of freedom, and of every liberal idea with which they are associated. 1842 COBDEN Speech in Morley Life x. (1882) 34/2, I believe the right hon. Baronet to be as liberal as the noble Lord . 1847 LD. COCKBURN Jrnl. II. 191, I have scarcely been able to detect any Candidate's address which, if professing Conservatism, does not explain that this means Liberal Conservatism. 1866 GEO. ELIOT F. Holt (1868) 29 Harold meant to stand on the Liberal side. 1879 G. B. SMITH Life Gladstone I. i. 9 Principles..which we usually associate with the name of Liberal-Conservative. 1881 M. E. HERBERT Edith 190 The Liberal Government had outlived its popularity. 1899 LD. ROSEBERY in Westm. Gaz. 31 Oct. 2/2 There is no such party the Speaker or the Whips, as the party of the Liberal Imperialists. 1901 Scotsman 12 Mar. 6/2 Liberal Unionism is still a vital force in British politics. 1909 Daily Chron. 14 July 1/7 Mr. Hancock, the Liberal-Labour candidate for Mid-Derbyshire. 1929 M. BEER Hist. Brit. Socialism (new ed.) II. IV. xvi. 315 In 1898 Gladstone died, and with him one of the main pillars of Liberal Labourism disappeared from British politics.

Now, why it began to be applied to the New Deal politics I don't know, but the word has historically been associated with progressive ideas, as the OED demonstrates.
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drfemoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
9. No .. but ..
*Conservatives* (freepers) have started calling Liberals >>

"Close-Minded, Nasty and Fringe"
Once liberals were like John Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. They were upbeat and enthusiastic and mainstream. These days theyre more like Eric Alterman and Michael Moore and Al Franken. Theyre closed-minded and nasty - and fringe.

LOL ** btw - freeper website is the source document.
Definite freeper slant **
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Jim Warren Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
10. bait and switch
This has been one of the greatest pieces of political misdirection in modern history....... right up there with Iraqi involement in 9/11.
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delhurgo Donating Member (500 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 05:18 PM
Response to Original message
11. I don't know when this happened.
Your idea is as good as any: ...happenned sometime after Roosevelt/New Deal ...liberals turned into sort of quasi-socialists, but just kept the name. It then sped-up during Johnson's Great Society. And then conservatives have been only too happy to demonize the term by equating it with the said socialists, or progressives if you wish, cause they know how unpopular the big gov ideology is in the U.S. I wish the Dem party would get back to the smaller gov, live-and-let-live philosophy that the term liberal really means. If Jefferson saw what his party has become today he'd throw up.
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