Liberal or Progressive?

Following the CNN/You Tube debate I commented on Hillary Clinton’s avoidance of the word liberal. This remains a topic of discussion in the blogosphere. For example Ryan Sager found this to be a highlight of the debate:

Clinton’s forthright disavowal of the term “liberal,” because Republicans have made it a dirty word in the minds of voters. She may have just put that term entirely in the past (at least in its Ted Kennedy-bashing usage) and formalized the switch to “progressive.”

Kevin Drum is ambivalent, but feels progressive is winning out:

I only bring this up because it’s been in the back of my head for a while that he’s right. I’ve always been vaguely in favor of refusing to give up the “liberal” label because I don’t think we ought to let Republicans decide what we can and can’t call ourselves, but over the past year or so I’ve been slowly coming to the conclusion that not many people agree with me about that. I’m a fairly hardnosed descriptivist in vocabulary matters, and it’s starting to look like “progressive” has won this battle whether I like it or not.

There are many excellent comments following his post. Some of the reasons given both for and against the term liberal suggest reasons why I used the term in the name of the blog. Among the aspects of liberalism which I considered in naming the blog were its origins in support of freedom, as well as stressing social issues. On economic issues liberalism leaves a certain degree of ambiguity if the original meanings from classical liberalism as well as European liberalism are considered, but for my purposes that is something positive.

While I discuss economic issues far less than social issues here, Liberal Values is firmly a supporter of the free market. However I also contrast this with the corporate collusion of the Republicans which is a perversion of capitalism. Such support of a free market economy is, at very least, consistent with the original and the European definitions of liberalism. It is also an accurate description of many modern American liberals. In recent years, liberalism versus conservativism has become increasingly divided by social issues, and more recently by one’s opinion on Iraq. Economic issues have become much less a factor, despite the attacks by the right wing noise machine on those they claim are socialists or tax and spend liberals.
While Republicans have strived to make liberal a dirty word, I would not let this dissuade me from using it. Changing to progressive in place of liberal will only embolden conservatives in their belief that they can redefine reality as they choose, and they will do the same to progressive and any other word which is used. Besides, I far prefer liberal, with its roots in supporting liberty, than progressive.

If conservatives have made liberal a dirty word, it is time to point out the invalidity of the source. Those who made liberal a dirty word are the same people who claim evolution is false, and that Iraq had WMD justifying the war. These even include the dwindling group of people who approve of the job performance of George Bush. The right wing noise machine may have succeeded in demonizing liberals in the past, but this is an excellent time to go on the offensive and show the dishonesty of the conservative attackers, as opposed to retreating as Hillary Clinton has.

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  1. 1
    Ron Holland says:

    The free market is always superior to top down government and political actions.

    We are very pleased to announce the creation of The Free Market Hall of Fame where members of the Freedom Movement will have the opportunity to initially vote on individuals contributing most to the success and advancement of free markets and free people around the globe during 2007. Mark Skousen stated; “It’s time we honored all the great teachers, writers, business leaders, legislators, and think tanks that have advanced the cause of liberty,”
    Nominations for the Free-Market Hall of Fame are open to the public and can be made by anyone by e-mailing Individuals can vote for or nominate individuals who they believe should be in the Free Market Hall of Fame. Write-ins are permitted.

    The categories will include the following academic economists, journalists and writers, business leaders, legislators and government officials and think tanks.

    A select group of economists and other free-market supporters will make the final decision and vote on upcoming Hall of Fame members.

    For more information on the Free Market Hall of Fame go to
    Ron Holland, Editor
    FreedomFest News
    Author of the online book: “The Swiss Preserve Solution”.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    “The free market is always superior to top down government and political actions.”

    It is that type of generalization which leads to the distrust by some liberalst of supporters of the free market.

    As a general rule, this is correct–but not always. For example, government does a better job of providing health care coverage to the elderly population. Maybe people in other fields know of other areas.

    People who argue that the free market is >b>always superior also tend to believe this based upon ideology, and then fudge the facts to match their idology, further harming the credibility of those of us who support the free maarket but are also aware of its limitations.

  3. 3
    Liberal Journal says:

    There is nothing wrong with the word liberal. The people who have told us it is wrong are the same people who told us Bush was right.

    Hillary Clinton has fallen into the Kerry trap of 04 (“I don’t believe in labels”) with actually using the same words. She’s running away from the word liberal because she is too afraid of losing by calling herself one.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Kerry was right in his criticism of labels. I’ve noted their limitations in several posts here. While Kerry has spoken of the problems with labels, he never ran away from the liberal label. In fact, he did the opposite. After the 2004 election, when so many Democrats were actually running away from liberalism and were trying to look more conservative, it was Kerry who spoke out about the need to continue to fight for liberal principles.

  5. 5
    Dave says:

    If lying and the quest for corruptible power defines Liberal, keep it. Being a Liberal sure ain’t progressive. Any sandal wearing “Liberal” who thinks progressive is saving some earthworm or bird to stop PROGRESS or buys an eco car to save the planet from the THEORY of global warming causation hasn’t progressed anywhere. Note: See North Korea for your future vision of utopia. Dorks.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Dave provides valuable lessons as to how clueless the conservatives who bash liberals are, proving my point.
    Dave has no idea what a liberal is. Among other problems in his limited thought process, he should be informed that an authoritarian country which opposes the free market is far closer to the beliefs of the authoritarian right than liberals.

    Global warming represents the consensus of scientific belief. This shouldn’t be a liberal or conservative issue. It’s a matter of whether you accept the scientific process. Unfortunately many conservatives do not accept science.

    As an example of how ignorant Dave is of science, he uses “theory” in a derogatory manner, showing he does not know the meaning of the word. In science, theory can represent the highest degree of scientific thought on a subject, such as in the theory of gravity or the special theory of relativity.

    It is clear Dave has no knowledge of either political beliefs or of modern science. His statements are of no value or meaning. Why should anyone run away from a word such as liberal based upon what people like Dave have to say?

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