Tag Archives: progressives

Conservatives are winning the labeling war

Let’s give a sort of shout-out to the conservative media and the politicians they are backing.

Those on the right wing of the spectrum are winning the war of epithets, labeling and name-calling. They have turned the term “liberal” into a four-letter word.

I see it daily as I watch the political debate swirl and churn across the land. To be called a “liberal” in Texas — which is run by Republicans at every level of government — is to be called the son of Satan himself. A candidate for the Texas Senate who is running against state Sen. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, has called him “liberal” and “corrupt” — in that order. Do you get it? The implication is that to be liberal is to be corrupt. By the way, Seliger is campaigning for re-election as a dedicated conservative, which he is.

It’s gotten so bad among liberals that they no longer are even identifying themselves with that epithet. Oh, no. The operative word now among those on the left is “progressive.”

Admission time: As one who tilts to the left, I find myself using the this new P-word when describing myself. Have I gotten, um, self-conscious about what liberalism? Oh … maybe.

Liberals, er, progressives, haven’t yet been able to turn the right wing’s labeling against them. I suppose they could shorten the word “conservative” to, oh, “con,” which of course brings up another connotation altogether. I mean, liberals are called “libs” on occasion. But I digress.

The political debate often becomes a contest of sorts. One side seeks to demonize the other with words that sound a bit jarring. Republicans back in the early to mid-1990s began using the term “Democrat” as an adjective, referring to “Democrat politicians,” which doesn’t sound quite the same as “Democratic politicians.” That word usage was part of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s strategy to label “Democrats as the enemy of normal Americans.”

If I were wearing a cap at this moment, I would tip it toward Republicans, conservatives and those in the right-wing media for the success they have enjoyed in this rhetorical battle with those on the other side.

However, as a dedicated political liberal, I offer my salute as a form of damning them with faint praise.