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  • by pudge (1) on 2004.09.28 1:57 (#34752) Homepage Journal
    There's another reason why "liberal" is a dirty word: because it has less specific, technical, historical, meaning. Conservative means favoring small government, deregulation, civil liberties, etc. Liberal means ... having long hair and smoking weed. And liberal changes so much over time: prohibition was "liberal."

    And it's part of why liberals have taken to calling themselves progressives, because it was the term used in 1912, when T.R. ran as the Progressives candidate, and Wilson beat T.R. and Taft on a progressive platform.

    Speaking of the early 20th century, there's another term that is similar to liberal on the right that is used similarly pejoratively: fundamentalist. The Fundamentalists were a group of Christians who reactionarily published a pamphlet called The Fundamentals in response to various liberalized teachings of the Bible.

    Of course, all of these terms are relative, and describe something largely reactionary, but it just seems like conservative and progressive have always been the more accepted, from what I can tell.

    As to Keillor, the problem I have with that sort of argument is that it is simply rhetoric. I could use the same background and same set of facts and same sense of nostalgia to support a conservative view. I like him a lot, but he is no technocrat or political scientist, and whenever I've heard him, he's never forged a real link between his utopia and the liberal policies he supposes will lead us there.

    I won't comment on Cornel West, I am in a good mood. :-)
    • I'm not sure that "conservative" is as well defined as you say, though I agree it's better defined than liberal. Certainly libertarians use it the way you suggest (they seem to think it's synonymous with "libertarian"), but Republicans in general seem to stray a bit -- especially with regard to civil liberties not related to the 2nd amendment -- and think the word has something to do with "preserving America as a Christian nation" and opposing "the gay agenda", as well as keeping those damn hippies from smo
      • Well, it was well-defined up until the 80s, when Reagan suddenly made it popular to be a conservative. Progressives had a similar problem, where the term got diluted, and subsequently fell out of fashion. Real conservatives -- like William F. Buckley et al at National Review -- support marijuana legalization. :-)