Why “Liberals” Should Stop Calling Themselves “Liberals”

presidentobama1Before I get started, let me say there’s nothing at all wrong with being a “liberal.”  I ofter refer to myself as one simply because it’s the popular terminology for someone with my political beliefs.

I just think the word is too small.  Not small as in it’s only 7 letters, but small as in too confining.  It ties us into one set of ideas in the same way “conservative” ties Republicans to theirs.

Besides, I don’t feel it truly encompasses what it is that we’re fighting for.

We claim to be on the side of acceptance, freedom, liberty and justice—yet “liberals” often do the very thing we accuse conservatives of doing.  We outcast those who don’t agree with us on every issue.

“So you support same-sex marriage and sensible immigration reform but think abortions should be banned at 20 weeks?  Well you’re not a true liberal!

I’ve seen comments like this, and others that are similar, said quite often.

And I feel these kinds of remarks do an injustice for what “our side” is trying to accomplish.  I’ve said for a while the strength and weakness of Democrats is often the same thing.  It’s our diversity.  The very differences which make us stronger are the same differences which often divide us on some issues.

Then what about those Republicans who no longer feel they’re represented by the GOP?  These are people we should be recruiting, not judging the very same way Republicans judge them.  So they don’t agree with us on every issue.

News flash: most liberals don’t agree with each other on every issue either.

But the truth is, neither side is going to accomplish much of anything by only pandering to their base.  In states such as California more liberal candidates can absolutely win, but in states like Texas we must support more conservative Democrats—which isn’t happening.

The word “compromise” has to stop being a dirty word.  We’re not going to get everything we want in every bill passed, and we can’t hang out to dry the politicians who don’t do everything we want.

Case in point — President Obama.  You know how often I’ve seen “liberals” call him no better than George W. Bush because of a handful of issues?  Because he supports 10-15% of some of the same policies Bush did, that makes him “exactly the same.”  Are you kidding?

This is why I feel we should be called “progressives” much more often than “liberals.”

To me we fight for the progress of our nation and our society.  We fight for freedoms, equality and liberty—for all.  We support programs that try and lift up the poor, while still keeping the door open for Americans to seek wealth.

When I hear “progressive” I think of people, diverse people, who want to push our country forward.  Progress away from decades old traditions which are outdated.  People who might not always agree on every issue, but will work together to find the best path to return the United States to being the leader in innovation, education and quality of life.

A “progressive” I feel reaches beyond the narrow description of a “liberal” or “conservative,” and can bring about an area in politics where people from both sides can find enough commonality so that we can work together and make this country stronger.

These days a negative connotation is often attached to “being liberal” which doesn’t appeal to those who might support some of the same issues we do, but don’t consider themselves what “liberals” can often be stereotyped as.  There are too many who take the term “being liberal” and exploit it for their own gains while representing none of the true values for which the phrase stands.

I think “progressive” better fits what our true goals are—progress.

While there’s nothing wrong with anyone who wants to call themselves liberal, or believes the term is that of pride (as it is), my opinion is just that it holds us too confined to one particular set of beliefs.  And it does this while ignoring those who want great things for this country—they just don’t happen to agree with every “liberal stance.”

And while Republicans are pandering to their radical base seemingly more every day, embracing the furthest reaches of their conservative supporters, I feel this is a time for liberals to do what we want our country to do—progress.

We should openly embrace the term “progressive” so that we can put on full display the diversity for which we know this country is based and build upon our differences for a stronger nation.

And while there’s nothing at all wrong with the term “liberal,” I just feel “progressive’ more accurately describes who we are and what we want to accomplish for our country.

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.


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