Saturday, July 28, 2007

Liberal, Progressive, Whatever

In the YouTube debate, Hillary Clinton said she would rather be called “progressive” than “liberal.” As usual, her judgment is poll-perfect.

Later in the week, the Rasmussen Reports asked voters and found:

“Just 20% said they consider it a positive description to call a candidate politically liberal while 39% would view that description negatively. However, 35% would consider it a positive description to call a candidate politically progressive. Just 18% react negatively to that term.”

Irving Kristol, father of Bush’s best media friend William, famously described a neo-conservative as “a liberal who has been mugged by reality,” a snappy definition with a touch of sly racism. In today’s political atmosphere, a progressive might be defined as a liberal who has changed his (or her) name out of ambition.

Until the Ann Coulters of the world worked so hard to make it a synonym for godless and goofy, liberal was a badge of honor for those who valued people over property and, in the last century, helped create Social Security, unemployment insurance, civil rights for minorities and opposed the war in Vietnam on the same principles that they now oppose the war in Iraq.

Even today, the most-educated Americans, including college professors, describe themselves as liberal and (hold the snickering from the cheap seats) so do I.

It’s saddening that Hillary Clinton, as her husband did, feels compelled to change her political name.

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