“Liberal” Is NOT A Dirty Word!

An article yesterday morning in The Washington Post unveils the republican’s latest strategy for winning in the November mid-terms:  using the word ‘liberal’ as if it were a four-letter adjective.  It isn’t.liberal-1According to Merriam-Webster, a liberal is “A person who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change”.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, a liberal is one who is:

  • Willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own
  • Open to new ideas
  • Favourable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms
  • Favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform
  • Concerned with broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training

I see nothing in any of these definitions that makes being a liberal a bad thing, and yet I hear the word spat out by republicans, almost as if by being a supporter of a liberal ideology, we are something vulgar, something akin to the unidentified substance on the bottom of your shoe.

For decades, people on the left or center of the political spectrum have been referred to as “bleeding heart liberals”.  So, what exactly, does that mean?  By one definition, it is “Someone who is particularly compassionate and concerned about people who face disadvantages, whether temporary or institutionalized.” But to those who would use the term as an insult, it implies that caring about anyone other than yourself and your immediate family is somehow “bad,” and caring for those less fortunate than you is somehow “stupid.”

By any realistic definition, I have no problem with being called a liberal.  I would, of course, prefer that the word not be spat at me such that I need to clean my glasses after being called such, but still, I do not consider it an insult.  And I have no problem being called a ‘snowflake’, for as I tell those who call me that, it is a compliment– snowflakes are beautiful and unique. The one that really offends me is being called a “libtard”, for it indicates something that nobody with a brain should use. Perhaps we should simply remember that it is a reflection of those who use the term and their intellectual capacity, or lack thereof.

Back in the day, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s liberal ideas earned him the titles “Moosejaw” and “momma’s boy”, by journalist Westbrook Pegler, who coincidentally also coined the term “bleeding heart liberal”. The term came into its own during the 1950s when Joe McCarthy, called Edward R. Murrow one of the “extreme Left Wing bleeding-heart elements of television and radio.”

On the other side of the aisle are the conservatives who see the world as a challenging place in which there is always someone else who is ready to steal your lunch. Confronted by a potentially hostile environment, the best course is to take precautions and to ensure your own well-being and that of your family.  Most sane people, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, would agree that the first priority in our life is taking care of our family.  It is why we go to work every day and come home every night.  But taking care of our families and helping others need not be mutually exclusive.

The difference, I think, comes in the definition of what ‘taking care of our family’ means.  For most of us, it means having a job so that we can meet the needs of a place to live, food on the table, bills paid, a car to get around in, health care, and the ability to put aside a bit for a rainy day.  That is enough for me.  My needs are met … there is no need for a bigger house, a fancier car, or steak on the table every night.  If that makes me the object of scorn by conservative republicans, so be it.  I am far more content than they, for I am not always wanting more.

The divisiveness in this nation today is both toxic and dangerous.  We have a so-called president who is inciting violence against the free press by calling them the ‘enemy of the people’, and we have the opportunists like Alex Jones who intentionally rile the masses and drive a wedge between right and left.  And now, in desperation, for the GOP must surely realize that people are getting fed up with their antics, the republican candidates’ modus operandi will be to denigrate democrats by calling them liberals in a tone that indicates nothing good.

Being a liberal is not a bad thing – it simply means we care more about people than we care about wealth.  It means we are willing to settle for a bit less if it means somebody can feed their children tonight.  If that is scorned and mocked by certain politicians and their followers, then in my book, it says something about them, not us.  Liberal is not a bad word … it is a perfectly legitimate ideology and it is past time that people wake up to the reality that we are all, like it or not, on this planet together and will survive a lot longer if we learn to get along.

50 thoughts on ““Liberal” Is NOT A Dirty Word!

  1. It seems to me the liberals are those who care about the poor and that’s a great thing. Many conservatives seem to think the poor are totally responsible for their own condition. With a few exceptions, I don’t believe that’s the truth. We need more empathy toward those less fortunate than ourselves. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • The way I define it is caring more about people than things. It’s no accident that the level of wealth among conservatives is significantly higher than among liberals. You’re correct, the vast majority of republicans assume the poor are simply too lazy to work and take care of their own. As you say, there are cases where that is true, but so what? I’d rather not let a single child starve, for if their parent is lazy, which is rarely the case, it isn’t the child’s fault. Greed … “I’ve got mine, to hell with the rest”.

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  2. I can’t think of a better interpretation of what it means to be a liberal. Great job! Limbaugh was one of the first to make “liberal” seem like a four-letter word. Well, he was wrong of course. I wear the label proudly and defiantly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, indeed the word “liberal” has different connotations even within an English speaking world. Yet I get where you’re coming from, Jilly. For myself, capitalized or not liberal is an over-used word. For the word may be loaded, verbally.

    We all have to have boundaries in our lives. For that represents order, etc.

    Being a liberal may sub-consciously be threatening, I suspect? Challenges boundaries? For it is asking for some humanity of compassion, etc. When you’re on a street, you expect others to stop at the signs, etc? As a liberal, you do not expect someone to breeze past one, because you’re being a liberal? Right?

    I would rather have a more universally loving world, to live in. Yet there are many others working selfishly along at daily life. If you tossed them the question, are you a liberal? If they stop to think about the question, then despite the answer. They have a liberal in there somewhere. ..

    Cheers Jamie
    BTW as an after thought? If being liberal is at one end of the pole and conservative the other. Where would you place the fulcrum? …J

    Liked by 1 person

    • True … both ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are over-used, and I am rather sick of hearing them on a daily basis, but they speak, I suppose, to a persons priorities. I don’t care what I am called … been called just about the worst thing a person can be called and it didn’t kill me … but my basic ideology is very simple: I wish we all cared more about people than things. And that, I think, is the core of everything that is being argued and debated between dems and reps, liberals and conservatives. I am sick and damn tired of the “I got mine, to hell with everybody else” attitude of so many people, including the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office.

      I will say this much … you always make me think! Where would I place the fulcrum? I’m not sure. Likely almost to the far left, though I wish I could say around the center, for I am a bit OCD, and I like everything to be balanced. 😉

      Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly … the fulcrum keeps moving more to the right and people who feel the way you do; become more and more extreme in how they would be superficially judged. It never stays in one place that fulcrum. Public opinion is a very nebulous and easily swayed thing. Even if you oppose “public opinion”? Immediately we are swimming upstream. I see nothing wrong with a well measured liberal approach to life. Unfortunately it is all the other selfish bastards, who push it aside, in the haste to grab the goodies. That’s human nature, I suppose?

        Speaking od which much or this may be explained through demographics of personality; as defined by Myer-Briggs. Finding ones personality in MBPI is helpful in understanding your own and how others relate and why. For the personalities are not even. Certain personality traits dominate through numbers. It’s all in the demographics of MBPI. Cheers Jamie

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  4. In my humble opinion labels were created for those who have difficulty dealing with life… life is complicated, the human being is complicated… unfortunately for those with their book of labels, the universe, life and the human being is constantly changing and the labels become obsolete!… there was a time when mortal man thought the horizon was the edge of the earth and one would fall off!… 🙂

    “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    • Jill, I wanted to place my comment here as I agree whole heartedly with Dutchil’ comments. The only thing I would add is labels are often used as a lazy argument. Rather than debate the issues, a label is used to diminish the other’s arguments or paint the arguer with a perceived scarlet letter. Keith

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      • That is true, Keith … they are often used to denigrate and as a substitute for attempting to find out, through civil discourse preferably, what the other person or people do stand for and why.

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    • You make a valid point … or two! The left, right, liberal, conservative labels all mean something very different today than they did 20 years ago, for the tea party movement moved the right further to the right, and thus the left moved further left, and we have this great divide now, where nobody fits in the middle, they simply fall into the chasm. The labels DO become obsolete, or come to mean something entirely different. As I commented to another reader, liberals are now much closer to being democratic socialists, and in truth, have probably crossed that line. I know I have. But sadly, to some extent we all use labels, and I don’t anticipate that changing in my lifetime.

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  5. Good post. I’m a partial liberal. I’m open and try to be accepting of all those who do not harm others. However, I’m a biased, opinionated person when it comes to trumpanzees, the GOP, and conservatives. I hates ’em! Deport the lot of ’em, I say! No trial, no “listening to their side”. Just catch ’em, lock ’em up, separate ’em from their youngest kids, lock those kids up, too, their potential trumpanzees and that’s a crime in and of itself, and deport ’em all to Russia. Oh, also, tattoo images of the Soviet flag on their faces and of Putin on their arses. They love Russia so much, let ’em wear a part of it. Is this fair? No. But so what, everyone of these buggers is a traitor to America, so, deport ’em. #deporttrumpanzees2russia Hee, haw! 🙂

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  6. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    ‘Being a liberal is not a bad thing – it simply means we care more about people than we care about wealth. It means we are willing to settle for a bit less if it means somebody can feed their children tonight. If that is scorned and mocked by certain politicians and their followers, then in my book, it says something about them, not us.’
    PROUD TO BE ONE!!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. In these degenerate times, a supporter of the current liberal ideology, is something vulgar, something akin to the unidentified substance on the bottom of of an American’s shoe.

    When you have to go back generations and many decades to find the “good” that those you identify with did, that’s a strong indicator that your sort offers nothing good today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I do not have to go back generations nor decades to find the good. I only need to look back to our last president. I encourage differing opinions on this blog, but I do not tolerate disrespect. The next time you choose to compare me or my readers to the substance on the bottom of a shoe, I will simply block your comment, so please be respectful.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Well said. This has been building for some time and “liberal” sits there alongside the word “socialist” as key words in the Republican strategy. These have become “scare words” that instill fear to displace thought and get a quick gut reaction. Unfortunately, as we have seen, it works.

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    • Just a quick P.S. There are those liberals who simply react and embrace any cause without a thought. I suppose the term “bleeding heart liberal” might apply to them. On either end of the political spectrum, thought is a necessity, I would guess.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Hugh! As Choosing pointed out, what we define as ‘liberal’ is more like a socialist over on the other side of the pond. But then, they already have many of the things that we who call ourselves liberals here are fighting for, like Universal Health Care and gun regulation. As the right moves further to the right, it forces the left further to the left, and widens that great divide I have talked about even more. Yes, using the ‘liberal threat’ as a scare tactic has worked in the past, but some analysts believe that it will not be as effective this time around. I do hope they are right!

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  9. Well written! And what, pray tell, on the extreme side, is the difference between a person cheating the ‘system’ to be on Welfare when they are able to work and persons who ‘cheat the system’ by lying to get tax breaks, inflating medical costs, drug costs and insurance costs to become wealthy…not just to eat?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! The difference is that the wealthy feel they are ENTITLED to their tax breaks and whatever perks they can get. A recent study showed that the wealthy are far more likely to disregard traffic laws, such as stop signs, speed limits, etc., for they see themselves as above the law. Whereas the person lying to get food stamps very likely truly needs those food stamps.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. How odd. ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’ was coined by the founding fathers but ‘Liberal’ is a dirty word. Sounds as if some folk are afraid of other folk having too much freedom and concern for others.
    A Fable follows:
    Ah well when the socialist hordes from Europe invade the USA and set up their own authoritarian govt and start to go hunting down all those Right-Wing ‘Enemies of The State’, said Right-Wingers will be glad of the shelter offered by true Liberals who despise such Socialist Authoritarian views.
    (You really don’t want President (for Life) (All Benevolent) Roger I

    Liked by 2 people

  11. It’s funny: “liberal” in the US seem to be placed much more to the left side of the spectrum than in Europe. What you said about “caring more about people than about wealth” would be a typical phrase to support social democratic views. Here, “liberal” traditionally is more seen as opposed to a powerful government that has a lot of influence on every day life. So liberals very often see themselves posed against left groups, as these traditionally support a government that regulates more (to support the weaker citizens). – Interesting how different the “shading” of a term can become, depending on the cultural/political background.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, it is true that our definition for ‘liberal’ is more nearly matches ‘social democrat’ across the pond, and also in Canada. But the interesting thing is that the things we, as liberals in the U.S., are asking of our government are the things that you guys already have, at least to an extent. Universal health care, some degree of help with college, gun regulations, etc. So, perhaps your liberals don’t need to be as far to the left, for they don’t have to fight for basic humanitarian issues. Here, just mention Universal Health Care and watch people start going crazy, screaming bloody murder and threatening to shoot people!

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      • True … but here (= at least in Germany and Austria) it has always been the social democrats who fought for these types of rights (health care, social net etc.). The liberal parties used to be more “national liberals” when they first showed up (I am talking 19th century now), so definitely more to the right than your type at the US!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Words and their meanings evolve over time, I think, and are shaped by circumstances and necessity. Just in the last decade, liberal has come to denote something more to the left than it once did, primarily, I believe, as a response to the more radically right ‘tea party movement’. Push, and push back. One has to wonder, if the world survives another century, what political parties and ideologies will look like then.

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      • I think you may well find most conservatives are very liberal indeed when it comes to controlling their own lifestyles , it’s all these others who don’t know where to draw the line. Naturally we all draw the line in different positions but we tend to take a very liberal view with regard to our own activities. There is also a connection with that elusive concept called freedom , but how can anyone be free when they are desperately poor and unable to care for themselves or their family?We don’t necessarily need a very liberal government but we do need one that cares for the well-being of all its citizens.

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        • Agreed. ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’ are just words and likely mean something different to everyone. Your final sentence says it all, I think. We need to care more for the well-being of our citizens that the coffers of the wealthy.

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