Why I’ve Decided to Stop Calling Myself a Liberal

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Heck, odds are most people won’t even read it anyway. But I felt the need to “vent” a little and explain myself going forward for those who often read things that I write, follow me on Twitter or have been with me since the beginning on my Facebook page Right Off a Cliff.

From here on out, I no longer consider myself a “liberal.” I don’t like labels anyway, as they often pigeonhole people to blindly follow one set of ideas as opposed to leaving their minds open to other possibilities, but in a world where we label just about everything I’ve decided to simply consider myself a progressive advocate for common sense going forward.

In my opinion, lately far too much of what’s considered “liberalism” has been hijacked by far-left liberals who often act just as ignorant as their right-wing counterparts. Liberals who often mock conservatives for ignoring facts – as they proceed to treat facts with which they disagree much in the same regard as many conservatives do. That is, when those facts don’t support what they want to be real, they simply dismiss them.

I abhor extremism in any form, be it conservative or liberal. Extremists can rarely be reasoned with and they’re often ridiculously irrational. And I’m sorry, but I’m seeing far too many liberal extremists becoming the tea party version of the liberal movement.

Then again, I’ve always felt the term “progressive” better describes what it is I stand for. Isn’t progress what we want to bring to this country? The term “liberal” ties people into one set of ideas much in the same way “conservative” ties people in with another. I can’t count how often I’ve been called a “fake liberal” because I dared to question the “almighty wisdom” emanating from the far left – or how many emails I’ve gotten from conservatives telling me I’m a “radical liberal.”

Though I’ve never quite figured out how someone could be both a fake liberal and a radical liberal at the exact same time. Oh, yeah I know how. It’s because extremists (no matter what side they’re on) want people to follow everything they believe, without question, otherwise they’re either a “radical for the opposition” or a “traitor to their own cause.”

Because that’s the kind of mindset that will really get us far in this country, right?

My belief is that facts should never become subjective simply because they don’t happen to coincide with your system of beliefs. I don’t believe that the world is best run by people saying to other people “it’s my way or the highway.” Nor do I think that there’s one set of ideologies that’s the blanket “solution” for a society.

Take for instance a few issues we commonly talk about in this country:

  • Why can’t someone be both pro-choice but still support stricter restrictions on abortions such as bans on them after 20 weeks?
  • Why can’t someone be both pro-immigration reform but also support measures that seek to prevent millions of future immigrants from coming here illegally?
  • Why can’t someone support programs that help poor Americans feed their children and take care of their families while still supporting rules that seek to get people off these programs if they’re legitimately abusing them?
  • Why can’t someone support our Second Amendment rights, while still being on the side of passing sensible gun reform that seeks to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them?
  • Why can’t someone understand that tax cuts do not create jobs, nor does demonizing all wealthy Americans and raising taxes always provide a benefit?
  • Why can’t someone be pro-war when it’s needed and anti-war when it’s not? Since when did the decision for going to war suddenly become a popularity contest? Sometimes war is needed, sometimes it’s not. There should never be a blanket “I’m pro/against war” movement in this country because that makes absolutely no sense.
  • Why can’t someone be a Christian, while understanding that millions of others are not?

I could keep going on and on, but I think I made my point. But, sadly, almost no one who stood for the issues I just listed, in the way I listed them, would ever get elected.

You know why? Because they would be annihilated by the far-left and the far-right when it came to the primary elections. And even if they survived their primary, they would probably get killed in the general election against the candidate that simply decided to pander to either the far-left or far-right.

Now, am I saying liberals are bad? Of course not. Nothing about anything I believe has changed, though I’m sure many liberals reading this will claim I’m the one who’s “drifted away from liberalism.” I’m just not really sure if the behavior I’ve seen recently from far too many liberals (specifically many within the internet liberal media and the far-left) still represents me.

But what all of this really comes down to is labels, which as I said before I really don’t care for in the first place. But I am sick and tired of being called a “fake liberal” because I dared to question the almighty doctrine of the far-left. A grouping of people who claim to be open-minded and accepting, but can often be just as judgemental and hateful as those on the far-right.

So that’s why from here on out, I’m considering myself a progressive advocate for common sense. Because I don’t think any of us should be beholden to one set of ideologies simply because “that’s what we are.” None of us should reject facts simply because they might not coincide with a belief we want to be real but isn’t.

But at the end of the day, everyone is free to call themselves whatever they want. Because who you are and what you believe isn’t based on a few letters strung together to make a name. Ignorantly attaching oneself to a particular set of ideologies where facts are often ignored simply because they’re not convenient to those beliefs is what conservatives do. And no matter what we decide to call ourselves, we should never behave like they do.

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Cemetery Girl

    Reality of life: labels are everywhere. Another reality: there’s always people that will claim you can’t be part of that label. You’re always not enough to someone to identify as something. I prefer to identify as progressive, although liberal fits. I’ve been told I’m not liberal enough. I am Christian, and I’ve been told many times I’m not Christian enough. (I have no desire to browbeat people into Christianity, oppose homosexuality, ect.) I’m a feminist, but have been told I can’t be because I’m married and have three boys. (It’s amazing how people think that hating any male is a requirement.) I’m a bit of a country girl, yet supposedly I can’t be because I think beer is gross and I don’t wear a cowboy hat. I am a woman, but I’m not feminine enough because I don’t like cheesy, sappy “chick flicks”. I am multifaceted. People should be multifaceted. I have listened to Macklemore while reading through birth certificates from the late 1800s because I love genealogy. I don’t fit into exact categories perfectly. I can wear labels to give people a basic idea of me (like a dust jacket description on a book), but to really know me takes more effort. People that don’t like me or think I fit a label, they can look up John Candy’s famous quote from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I have people that like me, I like me, I don’t need to try to fit what they think I should be.

    • regressive white trash reli

      nice post!

    • Junior

      Well Said

  • Sickandtired

    Well said. But I would have gone a step further with the term”Progressive.” I would sooner consider myself a Liberal or a Moderate because the progressives I have known, go too far left. I would rather have a conversation with a Moderate Republican, than a far Left Progressive that’s their way or the highway. Altho I believe in progress, the term Progressive just leaves a bad taste in my mouth for what they have done to it, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a moderate Republican felt the same way about Conservatives. Wacky, angry people.

  • adcbeast

    Allen Clifton was NEVER a liberal … he is a pansy with the lamest ideologically inconsistent political viewpoints he posted in this article

    • SkippingDog

      Ideological consistency is precisely the problem. It doesn’t address the realities of life.

      • Dave McCormick

        True enough. If you want ideological consistency, then you probably want to call it what it really is – dogma.

      • adcbeast

        @disqus_l0idexVgkd:disqus .. Wow .. you are a stupid person

        You clowns have never studied philosophy ..

      • adcbeast

        @skippingdog:disqus .. Actually it does .. if you have a brain

      • SkippingDog

        Life’s realities require us to most often choose between shades of gray, rather than the black and white choices of ideological consistency. As a previous poster noted, if that’s how you approach the world we should at least recognize it for what it is: dogma. That’s nothing more than a religious approach, not a rational approach.

        By the way, adcbeast, it’s the height of lameness to upvote your own post.

      • adcbeast

        @skippingdog:disqus … You are a complete IDIOT and that is being kind …

        Clifton’s logically inconsistent political viewpoints invalidate each other

      • SkippingDog

        That makes no sense, and in your lameness you actually liked your own post once more.

      • adcbeast

        @skippingdog:disqus .. actually it does make sense .. you’re just too stupid to understand how ..

      • SkippingDog

        Still the only one liking your own post? You are truly pathetic.

      • adcbeast

        @skippingdog:disqus .. Your mom is too busy gagging on my pole to like my post

      • SkippingDog

        Is that the kind of thing they taught you at Georgetown when you were getting your “PhD and JD,” you fake POS?

      • adcbeast

        @skippingdog:disqus … No .. the USMC taught me that

        Life is too short to tolerate stupid people wasting your time

        NEXT !!!

      • SouthernCinderella

        The anger, name calling, and condescending attitude is why Trump won and I know a large number of people who have left both sides of the isle to walk down the center because they are tired of the hatred and divisiveness. You cannot win people over to your side if you treat them poorly, and if you cannot get them to come to your side (or return to your side), then your side won’t do well in a federal election. The people I know who voted for Trump (I’m an Independent myself) and are being treated horribly by the Left are those who own the electoral votes needed to win an election. By treating them poorly, a person or group are just shooting themselves in the foot because people tend to vote against those who treat them like dirt…which, I would hope, is stating the obvious. I wish you good health and fortune.

      • Teriek Williams

        You’re absolutely correct. I no longer identify with any side because they’re full of people like “Trump is an agent of Russia.” I can’t stand their attitude, hypocrisy and tendency to replace arguments with insults.

    • DavidD

      You are an agent provocatuer pretending to be something you are not.Most leftist would n’t use the word pansy except to describe a garden..
      Try harder.
      Mr.Clifton is a complex person.Most the labels we use are invented by lazy journalist who pass us off as simple rather than the complex people we are.
      I often disagree with Mr.Clifton but he is honest.
      You shoud try that.

      • adcbeast

        @disqus_VmJBZX24kD:disqus .. WRONG … Mr Clifton is an IDIOT and does not know it ..

        and being “honest” about your ignorance makes it worse

  • Jacqueline Gargiulo

    Allen, I like the sentiment of the article. My one question, why bother re-labeling your political views?

  • Yogini

    I love it! I have always considered myself a far left liberal. But after reading this, I realize I my views have never been as extreme as I thought. I think I almost felt like I had to be extreme just to fight the lunatics on the far right. Thanks for bringing up that little thing called common sense. Being extreme ourselves is not going to balance out the extremism on the other side. Allen, thank you for writing this. You are the ONLY one I have ever agreed with 100% of the time. But I would never hold a blind allegiance to you either.

    • EmilyS

      Same here. *upvotes your post* 🙂

  • Dave McCormick

    Our respective societies (American and Canadian) are becoming more and more polarized with less and less tolerance for any views that are not like our own. Compromise becomes less likely and a winner-take-all mentality rules. Everything becomes a battle and it’s not over until your “opposition” (aka: the enemy) is beaten into the dust. Labels don’t help. They usually only serve to demonize the other side. In the USA, the term “liberal” seems to be almost a curse word. In Canada, our “liberals” are mostly center-of-the-road types. Funny how that is. Even in the few comments posted on this page, a small number can’t resist from name-calling and epithets. Sad, really. It’s the death of sensible, civilized discussion.

    • Cemetery Girl

      Labels are a bad thing when we use them to decide if another person is worth our time. The act of using them to summarize aspects of our personality isn’t a bad thing, judgements and especially disliking someone based on a label is what is wrong. Sexuality labels (hetero, homo, bi, ect.) aren’t bad on their own, it helps clarify, but the act of judging and hostility because of a label is wrong. I identify as a liberal progressive, but I hold no official party affiliation, yet I have some good friends that are conservative and Republican. They are good people, our political stances aren’t usually too vastly different. We might have a few issues that we hold total opposite views, but the rest are either nearly shared or in the range that if we had the control over the topic we could sit, discuss, and achieve a solution that works for both views. If we don’t allow a label to decide who is worth our notice and attention, then we have a problem.

  • DanfromVegas

    Stereotyping and pigeon – holing liberals while claiming you don’t want to be pigeon-holed. There is no Liberal platform and unlike conservatives, ours is a big tent that welcomes varying view points. Instead of misguidedly attacking liberals, you should espouse your positions and attack those who stand against practically everything you believe in. It is not liberals who refuse to accept any compromise nor is it liberals who are dogmatic in their beliefs.

    • Dave McCormick

      The true measure of dogma (and, perhaps, insanity), is persisting in doing the same things that didn’t work again and again and expecting different results. I imagine there is some of this from all positions on the political spectrum. I just happen to get outraged by examples coming from the far right (and the far left, as it happens).

  • Pamela Parker Ricer

    I’m with you, Allen. Good thing I have “broad shoulders”, and have never labeled myself anything other than a moderate Democrat. Having and using common sense is something to be proud of.

  • Sickandtired

    It’s almost like 2010 all over again. The Far Left vs. the Moderate Left on here. Remember those days? Common sense was thrown out the window and has Left the building. The My Way or the Highway has taken over this comment section. It’s no wonder people stayed home in 2010 and 2014. Same shit different day.

  • TeeDee

    This is one those times when we read something and immediately feel like the author has read our journal. I agree with every word you wrote and have asked those same questions a number of times. Right on!

  • JanMutcher

    I have been angry with the Democratic party since even before the election. I’m angry that they were backing candidates who wouldn’t stand with President Obama, I’m angry that they were backing a candidate who lied on the Senate floor and said that the Keystone pipeline was going to create millions of jobs. I’m angry that they didn’t put money into ads explaining our tenets and promoting our party. I have always called myself a “bleeding heart liberal” though I see now that I am much closer to your beliefs. In fact, I would be happy if they promoted those views. Thank you for sharing them.

  • Guava Girl

    Thanks, though please note that the 20 week ultrasound is when many parents learn of birth defects that are “incompatible with life” and can impact people who wanted a baby. This is something that is often left out of the discussion.

  • Kenneth Browning

    Those who are “far left” aren’t liberals. Maybe that’s why you seem to disagree with them so much.

    I also find it funny you think you and other liberals that you share views with have a monopoly on what liberalism is. When the fact is, liberalism has always moved further to the left as time passes. Lassez-faire economics was liberal economics from the 1800s. It’s pretty obvious you yourself are the one anyone who doesn’t agree with you aren’t liberals or they’re extremist.

    Most of your articles are silly attack articles anyways and you love grade school level name calling.

  • DavidD

    I’m a Social Democrat.I guess I’m one of those far left types you speak so often of in such fond terms.
    I’m not a liberal because i want to shift the economy more over to production for use rather than profit.
    The liberal /conservative culture war theme was invented by the Republican Jesus crowd but the liberals have been quick to pick it up and now nobody is hardly voting anymore because they are disgusted by the process.
    Both sides in this are dominated by Peti Bourgeoise activist more concerned with feathering their own nests than advancing anything.It’s about power for them and the rest of us can go suck eggs.
    The main thing hitting me every day like most people now is how am I going to survive to the end of the month.
    That is what we should be addressing but both parties are dominated by intrests who are vested in economic inequality so we get this fucking side show.

  • Jason

    Anyone who uses liberal to mean left or conservative to mean right isn’t worth debating to begin with.

  • wheatfat

    I think the new extremism emerging on the left is a reactionary shift in direct response to the moronic fringe of the extreme right. Sometimes the Tea Party acts so stupid that you feel like if you agree on them on anything, you must be wrong.

  • Matt A

    You do know progressives advocate for socialism, right? Your post makes you sound like a moderate, not a socialist.

  • TheGreatestManWhoEverLived

    I’m a moderate Libertarian as I have both Liberal and Conservative views on certain subjects. I’m moderately conservative on gun control, as I believe stricter regulations are needed (no criminal record, no mental issues), moderately conservative on abortion (as I am pro choice to a certain point especially when it comes to rape and incest babies and if the life of the mother is at risk, but I’m totally against sex selection abortion, to me, putting the child up for adoption is a better option if you simply don’t want the kid) I’m moderately Liberal on feminism but can’t stand radicals like Anita Sarkeesian and Rebecca Watson. I guess in a way I’m somewhat of a Centrist. To me the only person in the GOP worth voting for is Rand Paul, while Bernie Sanders is the only person on the left worth voting for.