The Chicago Tribune's Frank James thinks the Democrats really need to stop this insistence on retreat... from the word liberal. In short, James wrote at the paper's "The Swamp" blog today, if Democrats don't hunker down and fight Republicans on the dreaded L-word, the GOP will keep moving on and make "progressive" an epithet as well.
Here's James' argument, portions in bold are my emphasis:
The backlash to taxes, the welfare-state and civil-rights created blowback against liberalism to the point where the term liberal has become an epithet, almost the political equivalent of the “n” word. Republicans have long wielded it like kryptonite against Democrats because it works.
Thus Democrats’ refusal to embrace it and to seek a different term. They’ve landed on progressive. The way Clinton described it, it sounded a whole lot like the classic definition of liberal.
Democrats clearly believe that progressive is a far better term for marketing themselves to the American people. It has the word “progress” in it and Americans certainly like progress.
But conservatives have repeatedly proven they’re very good at taking language and recasting it to their own uses. One need look no further than “death tax” and “cut and run.”
So Democrats may now want to plan now for the day when Republicans have successfully transformed “progressive,” with Democratic complicty of course, into as dirty a word as liberal, leaving Democrats no choice but to island hop to another term.
Of course, Democrats could always take another tack. They could stand and fight for terms that once embodied the very idea of human liberty and the ideas behind the American experiment.
Funny. To me that sounds like a political analog to the "if we don't fight them over there, we'll end up fighting them here" argument that liberals in the media deride as simplistic about the war on terror.
Yet when it's political warfare for the electoral viability of the liberal Democratic Party, however, it's a whole other story.