Q: Are You a Liberal?
I mean, look, labels are so silly
in American politics.
– John Kerry, CBS Debate
Playboy y’all got to give me five letters
Like Prada, Jacob, Fendi boots
C. Dior, clothing, suits
Range Rover, Gucci shoes
First class, flat class, Paris
– Foxy Brown, Fallin’
Silly or not, it turns out that labels and rhetoric are in fact quite important in American politics and most everywhere else where humans have taken up spoken language as a primary method of communication. And generally, in politics, whoever owns the definitions of those labels can drive the debate and often position others right out of the so-called mainstream of America. Words and their perceived definitions matter and it’s time for Democrats to take their words back (at least the ones, other than Dukakis, that are still within reach).
Right now the Republicans (or conservatives, or those on the right, all basically interchangeable words in these fast-paced times) own the definition of a Liberal. If that wasn’t true, then why would so many Democrats run from, instead of on, the word?
Sean Hannity (pundit, right-winger, Republican, blowhard – see how one definition can seamlessly be swapped out for another?) is out selling his latest book called: “Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism.” Check out that list. Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism. That’s what has been done to a word that defines, like it or not, the Democratic Party. But the problem isn’t the word. It’s that the Democrats have allowed others to devalue it’s definition.
And it’s a label that Democrats can’t (and frankly, shouldn’t) want to escape. Democrat, Liberal, Left. For many, these words are interchangeable. You can’t say you respect Puff Daddy but loath PDiddy. To take back the White House and the Congress, the Dems have to take back the word Liberal from Hannity, Coulter and other card carrying members of the sans-intelligentsia.
It won’t be easy. The word Liberal has taken more hits than the words Martha, Enron and Neverland combined. But the association between the term Liberal and the term Democrat isn’t going away. So Dems might as well remind themselves and others that it’s not such a dirty word.