I admit it. For some reason, even though I use the word “liberal”, it never fails to leave a bad taste in my mouth as it exits. It’s common, all your friends use it, but it somehow seems……wrong. It is *so* derisive and belittling that conservatives might consider the idea of leaving it in the past, like some other words we know. Even liberals have a problem with the word “liberal”, which is why only 20% of the population will use it to describe themselves. The problem with the word is not when we use it against a self-described liberal, but when we use it with left leaning independents. It becomes divisive, perhaps drawing a line in the sand in the wrong place, as though they have to choose between us or them.
What we need to do is draw the moderates towards us rather than drive them away with rhetoric and name calling. There’s no changing hard core liberals. My father will die an angry liberal. I can’t change that. Lord knows I’ve tried. He is one of the hardcore 20% of Americans who will listen to no reason and will never be persuaded to be anything else but angry socialists.
But we can’t throw the independents out with the bath water. Instead, we need to move them away from the 20% like an cutting horse separates a calf from the herd. And that means being the party of statesmen. The Democratic Party is the party of name-calling and fear mongering. We can’t beat them at this game. There are rumors that they are trying to elevate it to an Olympic sport. As my wife says “Democrats seem like teenagers, rebelling against their parents”. So the more Democrats act like children, the more Republicans need to behave as adults.
This, I believe, should start with politicians taking the word “liberal” offline. Even the word ‘socialist’ now stains the person uttering it less than the “L” word. In a sense, calling someone liberal, generally meaning a “free thinker”, makes Republicans seem close minded and backwards. Liberals are free thinkers in that they don’t believe in rules or right and wrong as normal people do. But they seduce independents with the promise of not being Republicans, whatever that means at the moment. And using the word “liberal” almost comes across as sour grapes. We have to be better than that. More convincing, more statesmanlike, more adult, less inflammatory.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy directly poking liberals in the ribs, particularly if I get the opening to call one a racist. But it’s not in the open public arena (The Huffer’s Town Post doesn’t exactly count ) where politicians need to persuade independent voters. Witness Michael Steele’s trite and badly written e-mails asking for money. “liberal Congressional allies” “reckless spending” “outrageous” “radical” etc, etc. Can’t we be intellectually astute enough to come up with some better language every once in awhile? Do I have force my way through a donation e-mail that was apparently ghost written by an angry, possibly deranged 5th grader?
The simple fact is that true conservatism is dramatically more evolved than liberalism. It is all about the individual, rather than mob rule group think. Democrats view themselves as intellectually superior and more morally evolved and what do conservatives do? We do everything possible to throw ourselves under their skyward pointed noses with our poorly worded arguments. In short, we need to become conservative philosophers rather than feces throwers. We need to stop devolving from Reagan and Buckley. We’ve used up the old language to the point of it being dirty and trite. It’s time for a communications evolution. And we need to stop appearing to be as simplistic and angry as our arguments.
More later as I search for the legendary lost word, “unconstitutional”