Talk:Liberalism in the United States/Archive 4

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proposed removal of "use of liberal by political opponents"

The fact that conservatives pejoratively use the word liberal is no more important than the fact that liberals pejoratively use the words "neo-con" and "conservative". It deserves a casual mention at most, a sentence or two, but hardly its own section. How conservatives misuse the word liberal is of no relevance to what American liberalism is. I fear this will become the next "list" (there was a list of American liberals here, and the main dispute was who's really a liberal and who isn't) , filling the talk page with endless dispute while the main article remains in a perpetual stasis. --Revolución (talk) 22:41, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree that this section should be kept short -- it has been shortened quite a bit already -- but not that it should be removed. Sadly, it is what most Americans think of first when they hear the word "liberal", and so is an important part of contemporary American politics. Rick Norwood 23:01, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

I think we should cut this section. It's been a source of endless contention in this article. Moreover, you'd be hard pressed to find a discussion of perjorative uses of the word "conservative" in an article about Conservativism. And this section of the article has been subject to endless reverts. I'm going to cut it and propose that we restore it only if more than one person can come up with good reasons for keeping it. Griot 18:49, 10 November 2005 (UTC)Griot

Here is at least one good reason for keeping it. One of the most important facts about American liberalism is the deliberate, documented effort on the part of Carl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and many other widely known, read, and listened to people to smear liberalism for political gain. Rick Norwood 21:56, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
The deliberate, documented effort to discredit liberalism began long before Karl Rove. It started with Lee Atwater, Bush I's campaign director, who had Bush I demeaning liberals at every opportunity. It's not clear to me how including perjorative uses of the word "liberal" documents anything. To my mind, all you are doing by keeping this in is furthering the ideas of Atwater, Rove, etc. Why document smear tactics as part of an encyclopedia article? As I explained earlier, you won't find a discussion of "mossbacks" in an article about conservativism. I still believe we should cut this. 23:06, 10 November 2005 (UTC)Griot
I wish more people than just us three would weigh in on the subject. I admit it is hard for me to maintain a NPOV when daily I hear my beliefs lied about. But, taking a deep breath and trying to be as objective as I can be, it seems to me that the attacks on liberalism are a major part of the story of liberal thought in America. There does not seem to be any doubt that the section is true, that the documentation is correct. The only question is, is it an important part of the story of American liberalism. Rick Norwood 23:45, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
I'll weigh in! The use of the term "liberal" as a political epithet probably should be mentioned in this article, but it isn't a major part of the story - better to focus as it already does on the (1) intellectual history and (2) tenets of the American Liberal movement(s). However, the pejorative use of "liberal" in political campaigns isn't strictly a "lie" - it's usually a crude use of the term to denigrate the beliefs and policies that underlie the label "Liberal" - when Atwater et al. are using the term as an insult, they're saying "Vote against LIBERAL John Doe" because he (presumably) supports big government, gun control, abortion rights, higher taxes, traditional welfare programs, utopian internationalism - things that are associated with, or supported by, many traditional American liberals. Obviously, not all Liberals support higher taxes, etc., or all of those given ideas, but the use of the term in politics is meant to associate a candidate with that sort of thing. It's not like saying "Doe is a liar" or "Doe is an idiot" - those are just insults. Saying "Doe is a Liberal" is saying "Doe believes in X,Y,Z and this is bad because X,Y,Z are bad things to believe in." This reflects the underlying political culture in America, which appears to have drifted rightward since the Great Society, and is something relevant to American Liberalism. Just as American Liberalism is notable for shaping so much of modern national culture, from the New Deal on, it is notable now, among other reasons, for the way it has been portrayed in the late 20th/early 21st Century. Kaisershatner 15:15, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
I think the concept people are fishing for is straw man argument. Calling Clinton liberal is equivalent to calling Bush right wing extremist or whatever the right-wing equivalent would be. Ironically, the section itself makes straw man arguments against conservatives in trying to get this point across. What's notable here is not that people in politics make bad or simplistic arguments (isn't that what politics is all about?). What's notable is that liberal has come to mean extreme left wing, and for that reason many clearly liberal politicians don't like to be called it. keith 17:18, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

U.S. conservatives in recent years, often those of the Republican Party, sometimes use liberal to describe anyone who is a member of or supports any policy of the Democratic Party. Being a Democrat does not guarantee one is a liberal, as there are many within the party who are centrist and even a few who could be considered right-wing.

I move that this be deleted. It is simply not cohesive: Republicans are generalized, while Democrats are qualified. It says: Conservative = republican, but liberal ≠ democrat. We get upset about the latter but revel in the former. As to the issue's importance, I agree that it isn't deserving of its own section. It isn't incredibly germane to the topic of liberalism throughout America's history. - ElAmericano | talk 20:11, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

While I favor keeping some information about the use of "liberal" as a perjorative, I agree that the "U.S. conservatives..." paragraph quoted above doesn't add much to the article.
Let me explain what I think is the important point to keep, and that will help us to document this point and improve the section without omitting it entirely. I have no objection to John Doe saying, "My opponent is a liberal; he believes in abortion." What I object to is John Doe (or Ann C) saying, "My opponent is a liberal; he hates America." There is a well documented, well funded disinformation campaign by the Republican party to convince the American public that "liberal" means "liar", "loves criminals", "wants special rights for homosexuals", "hates America", "is a traitor", "wants to destroy the American family" and so on and on. This disinformation campaign is so pervasive that it is probably the first thing most Americans think of when they hear the word "liberal". As an example, a friend of mine, in a friendly discussion of evolution vs creationism, said, "You're like a liberal who gets mugged." In other words, the idea that liberals like criminals, rather than wanting fair trials, is so entrenched in the mind of the public that that can be the assumption behind a joke that makes no point unless you've absorbed the "liberals love criminals" propaganda. Now, I agree that in the front of the article we should just put forward the common beliefs that unite liberals. But, toward the end of the article, the political disinformation about liberals should be mentioned, and documented. Rick Norwood 22:39, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
I see what you mean, but I don't think the quote fits what you're trying to say. It talks about some event or action, unnamed even in the source, that is associated with a liberal point of view. That he repeats the term is to make the point that the position is not conservative, not anything he agrees with. I don't see slander there specifically. However, I believe the paragraph has its place, but so does the view that the media is generally biased. I'm of the opinion (having thought about it for a second) that the two should be given equal "time" in the article. If one gets a subsection, the other should, too. - ElAmericano | talk 23:22, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
After reading the section yet again, I propose cutting the last two paragraph, but keeping the rest. Rick Norwood 22:43, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
I agree, but see my comments above. - ElAmericano | talk 23:22, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Origins of American Liberalism

The top part of this article where it sums up the origins of American Liberalism is about as relavent as an appendix. Its a step in the right direction if its expanded, taking the roots all the way to the New Deal. However, just throwing some bit about Thomas Paine and expecting it to go to Roosevelt is a bit of a large leap. Therefore, I think a simple redirect should be added to other articles that mention the abollitionist movements, a good analysis between the growth of American liberalism and the technologies and social classes that emerged after the end of the 19th century, and it also requires a description of some political movements that led up to American liberalism, such as William Jennings Bryan and the Populist movement. These are but a few examples, but it would enhance the article. Otherwise, I propose axing the top part of the article.

Instead of giving up on the section, it would be a better idea to enhance it along the lines you suggest. (Please sign your comments with four tildes.) Rick Norwood 20:01, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
Good work, Dogcanteen. Rick Norwood 19:48, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Thank you, Rick Norwood.

'Use of Liberal' section again

What is the purpose of 'Some liberals, however, believe that U.S. media has a conservative bias' except to demonstrate that 'some liberals' are lunatics? 17:37, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

Putting aside your snide POV, some liberals believe this because they think corporate mergers are putting TV, radio, and newspapers in the hands of fewer and fewer owners, and that these owners tend to be conservative. See Rupert Murdoch for more info. Griot 19:16, 25 November 2005 (UTC)Griot

Yes, and what has this got to do with this encyclopedia entry in general, or that section in particular? 00:17, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

One of the key facts about modern politics is the concerted effort by the Republican party to brand all liberals as liars. Their first step in looting the public treasury was to try to discredit the watchdogs. Rick Norwood 00:25, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

If we accpet that as true for a moment. What is 'Some liberals, however, believe that U.S. media has a conservative bias' doing in a section entitled "Contemporary use of "liberal" by political opponents". Answer. Because the section was originally intended as an anti-Conservative/Republican propoganda piece and it got cleaned up. Now someone is trying to return it back to it's orginal state. 11:08, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Good point. I'll try to do something to clean that up. Rick Norwood 15:00, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
Phrases like "Republican propaganda" are not neutral.. nor is it neutral to say that the phrase "liberal bias" implies "that any opposition to the Republican party is due to bias, rather than to honest disagreement over issues". I think that's a misrepresentation of the views of people who claim there is a liberal bias in the media. What does media bias have to do with opposition to the Republican party anyway? I don't know of any Republicans who claim that liberalism wouldn't exist if not for media bias. Rhobite 17:35, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
I've made a second attempt at NPOV. It is ironic that, in reverting what I wrote, you restored the passage that objected to, and which I had taken out.
The subject of the section is use of the word "liberal" in the media which does not correspond with its actual meaning, as described in the rest of the article. For example, "liberal bias" is not used to mean "biased in favor of freedom, equality, and democracy". Nor, I think (except perhaps in the case of Bill Clinton), is it used to mean libertine. Further, these labels are applied indiscriminantly to people with views as widely opposed as Teddy Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Rick Norwood 22:23, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
Kennedy and Clinton are still both liberals.. there is a spectrum. Again I have removed your statements which imply that all liberals are Democrats. I still don't understand your interpretation of the phrase "liberal bias". You wrote that "liberal bias" implies "that any support for a liberal position is due to bias, not an honest opinion". This is not what conservatives mean when they say the media has "liberal bias"! They just believe that the media is sympathetic to liberal points of view because most journalists are liberals. You wrote that conservatives claim that the only reason people are liberals is because the media has liberal bias. No conservatives make this claim. Last, you appear to be using the terms "Democrat" and "liberal" interchangeably.. please remember that not all liberals are Democrats. Rhobite 00:24, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
Nothing I wrote was intended to imply that all liberals are democrats. Nor are all Democrats liberals. The point is that Republicans do not bother to attack liberals who are not Democrats. On the contrary, they contribute large sums of money to other liberal parties in hopes of splitting the liberal vote. When Republicans use "liberal" as part of a catch phrase, such as "knee-jerk liberal" or "liberal bias" they are not engaging in a debate, they are trying to win an election. Serious conservatives, in contrast, use words to mean what they say. The whole point of this section is to distinguish between the meaning of liberal when it is used in serious discussion, and the way the word is commonly used in political propaganda.
Consider the phrase "liberal bias". Since the actual meaning of liberal, as discussed throughout this article, and as defined in all reputable dictionaries, is "favoring freedom, democracy, and equality", then the dictionary meaning of "liberal bias" is "holding a strong opinion in favor of freedom, democracy, and equality". This is not, however, the meaning intended by the people who use that phrase, nor is it the meaning understood by those who hear that phrase. What meaning is intended, if any, is obscure. The best sense I can make out of it is that it means, "These people are bad. Don't listen to them."
However, I will try again. I have to, since I told that I would get rid of the passage he found biased, and you keep restoring it -- though I can't think why. Rick Norwood 02:34, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
This time I have changed only about a dozen words. You cannot seriously claim that "liberal bias" means being in favor of social programs and big government, since the very people who use that phrase have instituted the most costly social programs in history and expanded the role of government so that it intrudes into the lives of citizens as never before, in addition to more than doubling the spending by the federal government. And you cannot seriously assert that liberal media does not report negative stories about liberal politicians. Consider the non-stop front page coverage given to President Bill Clinton's sex life. Rick Norwood 02:47, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
I am so sick of people arguing from dictionaries. When commentators say "liberal bias" they are specifically referring to media bias. Period. People who speak of "liberal bias" believe the media is biased towards liberals. That is all they mean. They don't mean anything about social programs, big government, or "freedom democracy and equality". Accusations of "liberal bias" come mostly from pundits, not politicians. People like O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity.
Anyway I removed this silly straw man: "the word implies that someone is in favor of freedom and equal rights even for homosexuals, atheists, abortionists, and people accused of crimes." It does not imply this, you are again putting words in the mouths of conservatives. I removed it since it's clear we're not going to agree about what the word "liberal" implies when it is used pejoratively. To me it is obvious that conservatives who use "liberal" as a slur are implying their opponents are in favor of big government spending. When GWB used the word in the second presidential debate, that is the context he used it in. He was not attacking Kerry's stances on abortion, homosexuality, religion, or crime. As you can see in the transcript, Bush was attacking Kerry's spending record in the Senate. Rhobite 02:59, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
Very well. I will accept your interpretation of what "liberal bias" means, even though I do not agree with it. "Liberal bias" means that the liberal media are in favor of big government and increased spending. But I do insist on referencing the facts, which are that Republicans spend more than Democrats. The Bush administration, for example, has spent more money than any other administration in history, in constant dollars, with the exception of spending during World War II. Rick Norwood 13:40, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
You wrote that conservatives "claim that ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, the New York Times and others routinely report negative stories about conservative politicians and causes, because they favor increased federal spending and a more powerful federal government." Please cite a single conservative who makes this argument. Rhobite 14:53, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
You are the only conservative I know who makes that argument. I can see why you are "so sick of people arguing from dictionaries". I ask you what liberal means, as a Republican slur. I offer some suggestions. You reject them. I suggest that it really doesn't mean anything, you reject that. I ask you what liberal means in conservative propaganda. You answer "To me it is obvious that conservatives who use "liberal" as a slur are implying their opponents are in favor of big government spending." From that it follows that "liberal bias" means "bias in favor of big government spending". Now you reject that.
Please, I really want to know what "liberal bias" means. Tell me. What does "liberal bias" mean? Rick Norwood 22:09, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
As I said, when conservatives use the phrase "liberal bias" they are generally accusing the media of giving a "free pass" to liberal subjects, subtly advancing liberal causes in news pieces, etc. I invite you to read our article about Media bias in the United States - it's pretty good. I am not a conservative, by the way. Personally I don't believe the media has a liberal bias. But this article should acknowledge that many conservatives feel the media is biased towards liberal causes.
The general term "liberal", when used pejoratively, is not the same as the term "liberal bias", which almost always refers to the media. Maybe that's where you're getting confused. Accusations of liberalism usually imply that the individual is in favor of big government spending and tax hikes. As I mentioned before, that is how GWB used the term during the debate when he accused Kerry of being the most liberal senator. Rhobite 01:33, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

I think that's much better, on the whole. I think the stuff about 'Liberal Media Bias' pehaps merited some entry in that section (If you wanna put stuff about 'Conservative media bias go ahead, put it in the 'Liberal Beliefs' section right after the government enforced racial discrimination bit), but the whole thing is just way too much of a hot potato, I guess 21:27, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

LET'S CUT THIS SECTION OUT. This "Use of Liberal" section in the article has caused nothing but grief and contention. If you look on this page, you will see that 90 percent of the wrangling is about this issue. Is it really worth it? I maintain that this section doesn't belong here anyway unless the "American conservativism" article has a section about "mossbacks." Why go through this wrangling all the time. Let's cut this section now!

Why? It's a useful section.. the word "liberal" has become a slur in America. As an encyclopedia, Wikipedia should mention this fact. Let's not delete whole sections simply because they cause disagreement. Rhobite 01:21, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
That's simply untrue, Rhobite. You're letting your POV judgments seep into this page. luketh 18:25, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
You say that the word "liberal" is never used a slur.. then why does O'Reilly use it as an insult so freely? Why did Coulter write a book which equates liberalism with treason? Why did GWB accuse Kerry of being a liberal? Rhobite 18:32, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
First of all, I didn't say that the word "liberal" is never used as a slur by some radicals. What I said is that your claim that the word "liberal" has BECOME a slur in America is blatantly untrue, destructive, and POV. I can't answer for the people who slander liberals. I dispute your claim that GWB used "liberal" as a slur. He called Kerry "liberal" in reference to Kerry's political votes; he didn't use "liberal" as a slur. In fact, the emphasis of GWB's strategy to win the election was to label Kerry as a "flip-flopper" rather than as a "liberal," most likely because "liberal" has positive connotations among neutral sources. I agree that Coulter and O'Reilly say some really vile stuff about liberals. Since they're trying to cause contention and they have no interest in being NPOV, we shouldn't give credibility to them. "Liberal" has a definite meaning and it's that meaning we are describing in this article. luketh 19:18, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Rhobite. The section is interesting and useful. He and I are just trying to refine it to make it even more interesting and useful.
My point above, Rhobite, is that people who accuse the press of "liberal bias" never say in what way the press shows liberal bias. As you observe, it doesn't mean bias in favor of freedom, it doesn't mean bias in favor of big government. IMHO, it doesn't mean anything -- it is just a catch phrase. However, I'm happy with the way this section reads now, if you are. Rick Norwood 01:39, 30 November 2005 (UTC)'s edit

Excellent and judicious edit, Rick Norwood 14:02, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Deragatory Use of "Liberal"

I think this is an important topic to be discussed. It is a notable practice. LukeTH, what is your main objection? --LV (Dark Mark) 16:11, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

My primary reason for removing the section is that this topic doesn't refer to "American Liberalism." It's a contentious POV section that deals only with the word "liberal." Adding it to the encyclopedia article for "American Liberalism" makes no more sense than adding it to the encyclopedia article for "Classical Liberalism." Classical and American Liberalism are rich political philosophies with decades of thought and action that are independent of the way that the world "liberal" may or may not be used by somebody on talk radio. Even if the contents of the section WERE true, (and as it stands it is NOT), it wouldn't be relevant to this article on the political philosophy of "American Liberalism." Leave it to the bloggers to debate the linguistics of "liberal" and let us, as encyclopedia article contributers, describe the history and philosophy of "American Liberalism." luketh 19:43, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree completely with LukeTH. The article is supposed to be about American liberalism, its evolution, and its ideas. A POV section about what the word "liberal" means to a narrow cross-section of rabid right-wing conservatives does not belong in this article. If you look around this Discussion page, you will see that this section has caused nothing but contention. Let's can it right now. Griot 01:23, 4 December 2005 (UTC)Griot
You're right. A POV section about what the word "liberal" means does not belong. But, an NPOV section about what the word "liberal" means can benefit the article. --Elliskev 01:34, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
That's what the entire article is supposed to do. Why don't we get rid of this section and then focus on improving the entire article. luketh 02:33, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
I've tried to add a lot of evidence through cites that the branding of "liberal" as a pejorative has had a real effect, and not just to "rabid conservatives", and thus is material to this article. Wasted Time R 01:41, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
As Rhobite observed in a later section, talking about "misuses" of "liberal" is POV. If the "branding" is not a "misuse," then it's based in truth, so let's describe liberalism as it is, and, if, as some people must think, it's true that it's negative and exposing it for what it is has "real effect," then readers can reach their own conclusion that being called a liberal is a pejorative. Those on the right can think it's a pejorative and liberals won't be forcibly exposed to the POV that any interpretation of the word can be a pejorative. There will be no POV and no contention. Otherwise we're stooping to the level of creating a section under Gay that describes how some people call each other "gay" as an insult. It has no relevance to "gay" and we shouldn't cover how some people, with poor manners or poor intentions, insult each other. This section must be changed so dramatically as to be an entirely different section or eliminated so that this article can be NPOV. luketh 02:51, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Why a political arguments section in this encyclopedia article on liberalism?

One section doesn't belong in this article. It follows:

Contemporary derogatory use of "liberal" and "conservative"

Many conservatives in the right-wing media use the term liberal as a slur in the same way that many liberals use the word conservative as a slur. In one of the 2004 presidential debates, George W. Bush described his opponent as the most liberal member of the the Senate [2]. Meanwhile, Seantor Kerry described his opponent as a "conservative out of touch with the American people [3]." In the 1960s, conservatives called liberals "bleeding heart" liberals for their opposition to the Vietnam War, or "knee-jerk" liberals, for their policies toward Blacks, working families, the criminal system, and immigration. In the 1990s, conservatives called liberals "tax-and-spend" liberals, because liberals were in favor of progressive taxation and social welfare programs. In the early 21st Century, liberals accuse the media of conservative bias [4] and conservatives accuse the media of "liberal bias". Both sides provide evidence to support their claims. Conservatives often claim that ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, the New York Times and others routinely report negative stories about conservative politicians and causes such as the recent criminal cases against Tom Delay and Randy Cunningham. Republican talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is often credited with the perpetuation of anti-liberal phrases. (See also Politicized issues, Propaganda). Republican political consultant Arthur J. Finkelstein took this technique to its fullest extent, repeating the word "liberal" in negative television commercials as frequently as possible, such as in this mid-1990s example: That's liberal. That's Jack Reed. That's wrong. Call liberal Jack Reed and tell him his record on welfare is just too liberal for you. [5]

I tried to fix it up. It was even worse before. Unfortunately, I realized that presenting both sides of the argument in a NPOV way DOES NOT make it belong. Who thinks who has a media bias contributes nothing to our understanding of American Liberalism. Let's try removing the section. The article seems much improved to me. If someone wants to return it, be sure to justify exactly why it's relevant and make it fair.

luketh 22:37, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

1) Please add new comments at the bottom of the page.
2) The purpose of an encyclopedia article is to imform. Since the use of "liberal" in political propaganda is the most common use of liberal today, readers will naturally want information on that subject.
3) This is a topic that has been discussed extensively below. Rick Norwood 14:11, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

All the discussion on this topic is PRECISELY why this section does not belong in this article. No one is going to agree on this issue. The use of "liberal" in political propaganda is NOT the most common use of liberal today. That is completely false. Almost half of the United States population embraces the word "liberal" as their political identity. A handful of right-wing pundits, and let me say that there are far more left-wing pundits, can say whatever they like but they can't change the reality. As for the section you returned, it's just a right-wing slime section and, as such, does not belong in this article. I'm removing it again. Please leave it out unless you want to write a relevant NPOV alternative, which, because this section doesn't belong, will not likely be possible. luketh 16:03, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Luke, what's your source for "Almost half of the United States population embraces the word "liberal" as their political identity"? The usual self-identification breakdown I see is more like 20% liberal, 40% moderate, 40% conservative. "Liberal" is used as a derogratory term in political advertising all the time; Finkelstein made a career out of it. Like it or not, this derogatory meaning is part of the story of American liberalism now, and to ignore it is just sticking your head in the sand. Wasted Time R 16:39, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, and to show the point that liberals try to not use the term "liberal" anymore, just see what happened when Bill Clinton was added to the list of American liberals. By all accounts, he is a moderate-liberal. However, due to the current stigma of the word "liberal", some left-leaning editors do not want his reputation tarnished by having him added to the list. That is why more and more liberals are rejecting the term liberal in favor of a less stigmatic "progressive". This is not my POV... (perhaps a little specualtion on my part), but this topic is relevant to this article. It should be discussed. --LV (Dark Mark) 16:50, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree with your observation but I don't think you understood the true motive. The conservative editors were the ones who didn't want to see Bill Clinton added to the list. A few far-right nutjobs have been trying to redefine the word "liberal" against the wishes of 40% of the American people. By calling Bill Clinton a "centrist," they're trying to say that "liberals" are unelectable. Only a "centrist" could win the presidency. It's ridiculous. Practically all Democrats I've ever known (and I've known a lot), call Clinton a "liberal" and we're proud of him. luketh 17:24, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Luke, find me a campaign quote where Bill Clinton clearly self-identified as a "liberal". For GWB it's easy, he repeatedly called himself a "conservative" or a "compassionate conservative". Next, find me a cite where 40% of the American people self-identify as "liberal". Wasted Time R 17:28, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Please, stop fighting. I think the fact that Clinton may not have self-identified himself as "liberal" is a red herring. Most people would agree that to some extent, Clinton is a liberal. I think even "leftists" are starting to dislike being called "liberal" and don't want their role model, Clinton, besmirched with the term "liberal" that the righties have now made into a naughty word. That's just my take. --LV (Dark Mark) 17:39, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Clinton, as a diplomat, did try to stake out middle ground. I think that's better than Bush who tries to ram his ideology down everyone's throats. As for self-identification, the latest study does show "conservatives" with a lead over "liberals." [1]. The numbers are 35% conservative, 23% liberal, and 42% other. If you split "other" in half, then we have 56% conservative and 44% liberal. It's fair to say that about half would probably prefer "liberal" over "conservative" and half prefer "conservative" over "liberal." Most undecideds tend to be liberals who live in red states and are intimidated by the more vocal conservatives. Conservatives in blue states tend to me as loud-mouthed and aggressive as their counterparts in the red. So it's fair to say that a few right-wingers are trying to redefine "liberal" against the wishes of 40% of the American people. luketh 17:46, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Well besides the fact that you assign the "others" as preferring half and half, and that people "prefer" one term or another, you still might be wrong. I mean, Hannity lives in New York and he isn't "loud-mou... oh wait. But I still think liberals in Red areas are vocal. And there was never anybody saying that right-wingers aren;t trying to re-define "liberal", that is what the section says. It doesn't say if it should be viewed that way or not, it simply points to the fact that it does. --LV (Dark Mark) 17:55, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Hannity? must be a FoxNews guy. FoxNews nakedly displays the underbelly of American life. Stay away unless you want an ulcer. Of course right-wingers are trying to define "liberal" as left-wingers are trying to define "conservative." Who's successful? Ask a right-winger and they will say that THEY are successful. Ask a left-winger and they will say that THEY are successful. How is this relevant? Politicians are always trying to define each other. It has nothing to do with the reality of the history and political philosophy of American Liberalism. This section really doesn't belong here and it's wasting everyone's time. luketh 18:08, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I was joking about Hannity. Even conservatives know he's a bit of a "loud-mouth". I was trying to inject some humour. But that's why I'm not a comedian. --LV (Dark Mark) 18:19, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Luke, you cannot possibly split explicit "moderates" and apathetic "don't knows" in half and claim them as self-identifying liberals. Do you have any actual evidence for your 'Most undecideds are intimidated liberals' claim? That's hogwash. Most undecideds are, in fact, undecided! The simple fact remains is that there are significantly more self-identifying conservatives in the US than there are self-identifying liberals. Politicians understand that, and thus depending upon party either attack or run away from the explicit "liberal" label, especially in statewide and evenmoreso nationwide elections. Are you claiming that this phenomenon has had no effect on the development and course of recent American liberalism, and is thus unworthy of mention here? Silly. Wasted Time R 18:40, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Wasted, embracing a word doesn't make a person "liberal" or "conservative." 12% more Americans call themselves "conservative" than "liberal," but that's because many people don't understand liberalism. This article is supposed to clarify the essence of liberalism not contribute to the confusion. If you look at the definition of "conservative" and the definition of "liberal," you would find that the country is split down the middle. Most moderates are in fact "liberal." A few right-wingers can't redefine a political philosophy that has decades of rich tradition. That they're even trying is laughable and it would be wrong to give such a deceptive campaign any recognition. It has little to no effect on liberals or liberalism no matter how many times FoxNews says it does. Some conservatives think that by repeating something often enough you can make it true. That's simply not the case. luketh 18:50, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree that this article should explain what American liberalism really is, not what its opponents falsely claim it is. And yes, some people may "be" of a philosophy without realizing it. Much of the confusion in the public mind comes from the conflation of classical liberalism, ideas from socialism, ideas from mid-20th century liberal thinking, and then the successful late-20th century attacks on it. So yes, the article can and must sort all that out, and that should be the primary focus of the article. But, there should also be a section, near the end as it is, that describes the eroding popularity of American liberalism by that name, and the largely successful (if unjust) commandeering of the word for perjorative purposes by its opponents. It has happened and it cannot be denied, no matter how much you or I might dislike it. Wasted Time R 19:12, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't think that such a redefinition has taken place other than within conservative circles. You're listening to too much FoxNews and right-wing radio. It's like the attempt to define "Santorum" as fecal matter. It doesn't change who Senator Santorum IS and including such a section in the article on Senator Santorum would be unbecoming of Wikipedia. Until it's accepted as NPOV that "American liberalism" has been redefined, then we shouldn't mention it. And if it ever IS accepted as NPOV, which seems highly unlikely, then liberals will find a new word for "American Liberalism," say "True American Liberalism," and I will personally be happy to change the article's title once again. However, American liberals still embrace "American Liberal" and the phrase still has meaning. This means that if you want to include a section such as this on "liberalism" which is not an appropriate part of "American Liberalism," then YOU should start a new article with a new name. However, in any case, this section will be unlikely to pass Wikipedia's zero-tolerance NPOV standard. luketh 19:31, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

(De-indenting) So you think that when Bush called Kerry the most liberal senator and when that type of phrase is oft-repeated, it has no effect? --LV (Dark Mark) 19:04, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Good question: well I think it has some effect but not much: no one really cares what politicians on the other side say. People called Bush the most conservative president in 100 years but that had little effect on conservatives claiming that Bush spends too much for their tastes. Liberalism, like conservatism, transcends an individual. It is a rich philosophy with entrenched positions that cannot be changed by political attacks from the other side. It can't even be changed by a massive change in opinion. Note that when liberalism morphed from classical liberalism into American liberalism, it did not change the essence of classical liberalism. American liberalism is an established philosophy. How a person uses the term "liberal" has no effect on that philosophy. If "liberalism" becomes associated with a new philosophy, as you seem to think it has, then someone will devise a new word (let me propose "douchebag liberalism") and then we can write an article on that. An encyclopedia article should contain only the noncontentious, either historical or philosophical, components of this philosophy. You should note that in consulatation with the editors at the time, I changed the name of this article from "Liberalism in the United States" to "American Liberalism" to reflect that American Liberalism is a philosophy that goes beyond the word "liberalism" which is shared by many other philosophies as well (such as classical liberalism). luketh 19:22, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Yup. Most Democratic politicians run away from the term "liberal" and refuse to self-identify with it, especially those running for national office. Republican politicians are generally much more willing to self-identify as "conservative". This is just factual, it says nothing as to whether either philosophy is right or wrong.... Wasted Time R 16:58, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I would say that is a valid assessment, however, it seems much less likely to hold true for liberals not running for office. Everyday liberals seem to be much more willing to self-identify as "liberal". Conservatives have painted the word "liberal" as "socialist" or "communist" or even "weak". I don't think saying such a thing is POV. Am I wrong? --LV (Dark Mark) 17:10, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Of course people who don't like liberals don't like liberals. How is mentioning this relevant to an article on American Liberalism? luketh 21:28, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Poll for consensus

Yes, I know pols are evil and all that stuff, but they are also a good way to determine consensus. Below is a poll to try and determine if a section on the contemporary usage of the term "liberal" is germaine to the article:

Is the contemporary usage of the term "liberal" germaine to the article?

Once we determine if it is germaine, then we can determine what the common usage is. I figure we will let this poll run for 1 week.

I think this poll should run for at least two weeks. Readership is down because of this section. To get an accurate answer, we should wait at least two weeks. luketh 20:00, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Two weeks it is. --LV (Dark Mark) 20:02, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
The entire article is about the contemporary usage of the term "liberal." Every word's contemporary meaning is affected by its history. This poll was poorly worded. I think what everyone knows is that by "contemporary usage" you mean "right-wing misinterpretations" which are POV by nature and shouldn't be here. luketh 01:15, 6 December 2005 (UTC)


  1. We can figure out how the term is used later. --LV (Dark Mark) 19:35, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
  2. Yes, because the contemporary use has not just been talk radio blather, but has had real effect, in that politicians and the public have both shied away from self-identifying with American liberalism. Wasted Time R 19:52, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
  3. I was asked to come back and vote, as I had commented on the section in the past. To be honest, I think it's gotten to be a lot more balanced, i.e. way more NPOV than before. I also think it's relevant to the article. If we're going to discuss a term, we should discuss it in all its uses, ebven as a label. The important thing is to maintain perspective. I think the section puts the perjorative uses of both conservative and liberal in a fairly realistic perspective. My only real problem with the section is the formatting. It's really ugly... Sorry, luketh, I call them as I see them, and I see this as a workable start. --Elliskev 20:20, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
  4. Yes, because it reflects the reality about how the word is often used. Rick Norwood 20:52, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
  5. Luketh, I known you'll be unhappy, because you asked me to come here and vote, but, yes, I think this is relevant. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:55, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
  6. Absolutely. Disagreement over a section's content is not a proper reason to remove it entirely. Rhobite 22:59, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
  7. See my comments under the RFC section. How can you completely separate the history and analysis of the American liberal movement without addressing that in 2005 calling someone an American Liberal is politically controversial? Kaisershatner 23:02, 9 December 2005 (UTC)


  1. It's a contentious POV section that deals only with the word "liberal." Classical and American Liberalism are rich political philosophies with decades of thought and action that are independent of the way that the word "liberal" is used on talk radio. Leave it to the bloggers to debate the linguistics of "liberal" and let us, as encyclopedia article contributers, describe the history and philosophy of "American Liberalism." Putting this section on "Classical Liberalism" would be no more acceptable. luketh 19:45, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
  2. I agree with luketh --Revolución (talk) 13:40, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
  3. I vote no. I'm mystified by arguments like the Yes one above that says perjorative uses of the word "liberal" should remain because they have "been talk radio blather." Since when is talk radio blather a criterion for putting anything in an encyclopedia? There might be a place for perjorative uses of the word "liberal," but not on this article, which is supposed to be about liberal thought in America and the evolution of liberal thought. In an article about Hispanics in the United States, would you include a section detailing the foul ways that Hispanics are maligned in certain bars and chat rooms. Of course you wouldn't. Griot 01:25, 6 December 2005 (UTC)Griot


(per LukeTH's request)The poll is not about the current section how it stands. It is merely seeking to determine if noting the contemporary usage of the term is germaine. We would determine how it is used at a later time. --LV (Dark Mark) 19:48, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Note that no one's ever going to agree on this POV section and leaving it here just guarantees eternal contention. luketh 20:05, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm not responding to the poll, but disagreement is not a valid reason to remove a section from an article. If people have issues with this section - as Rick and I did last week - they should discuss their issues and come to a compromise - which we did. I see no reason to cut this section from the article. Rhobite 20:11, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Can you echo that on Talk:Abortion? --Elliskev 20:22, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't believe I've ever participated in that article. I don't know what section of abortion you're referring to and I'd prefer to stay on the topic of this article on this talk page. Rhobite 20:28, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
You're right. Point taken. --Elliskev 20:37, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I think LukeTH's recent edit has gotten the paragraph just about right -- short and carefully sourced. Rick Norwood 21:11, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, somebody changed it back. There can be no agreement on this inherently POV section. luketh 21:15, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I changed it back, because you went too far. You had gotten things down to a really nice size, just a few well documented words saying that the way liberal is used in political propaganda does not accurately represent liberalism. But now you're trying to argue the point, and that is POV. Let's go back to the shorter version, at least until after the vote. Rick Norwood 21:34, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I have no idea what you're talking about. Don't misrepresent me. The shorter version was your own. Let's keep this NPOV. The vote is about inclusion of this section not about the contents of this section. luketh 21:40, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Evidently some people think the section is POV because it is anti-conservative and some think the section is POV because it is pro-conservative. That makes it NPOV in my book. Rick Norwood 21:38, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Right. That's why this section is inherently POV. What's important is that it's not relevant to American Liberalism. It belongs on a blog someplace luketh 21:40, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Let's wait and see how the vote turns out. Wiki is not a democracy, but votes sometimes help people arrive at a consensus. Rick Norwood 21:42, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

In any case, no one can vote to overturn NPOV. Contemporary usage of the word "liberal" is both positive and negative. Cover both meanings or cover none. Must have NPOV. luketh 21:51, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

That's a good idea. Most liberals I know are not ashamed of refering to themselves as such. Would a balanced account of contemporary usage of the term make you any warmer to the idea of the section's inclusion? --Elliskev 22:02, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, it would, Elliskev. I'm proud to be a "liberal" because that word to me means the rich tradition of American Liberalism. Among liberals, the word "liberal" has incredibly positive connotations. It's only in the conservative circles that it has negative connotations that do not refer to American Liberalism at all, but rather to socialism, communism, or whatever else they want. It doesn't seem relevant to the article but since I lost the vote, let's have both sides. luketh 22:07, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I think that's fair. I also think it's pretty interesting. I think that a lot of readers would be very interested in the subject of the use of the word as it relates to the perspective of the user. If presented NPOV, it'd be something pretty unique. --Elliskev 01:11, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
You're right. If we can keep it NPOV, covering positive and negative connotations with equal emphasis, it will be interesting and OK. luketh 01:59, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Luke, one thing to be careful of, is that "equal weighting" of arguments may not reflect the weighting of reality. See Wikipedia:NPOV#Undue_weight. In contemporary American politics "liberal" is used pejoratively a good deal more often than "conservative" is — just watch some negative campaign ads in any election cycle. To lead the reader to believe otherwise is mislead the reader. Wasted Time R 02:53, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Wasted, I understand your argument. This is essentially what you and Rick have been arguing and this is exactly the point with which I disagree. It depends entirely on which media sources you watch and on which political circles you frequent. Those who stick to mainstream media sources will almost never encounter this use of "liberal." It's only FoxNews and some conservative talk radio hosts who have dishonestly been trying to redefine "liberal" to mean something other than it is. And it's not even clear what they mean by "liberal." They usually talk about socialist or communist policies and label them "liberal." Certainly these connotations are not part of American Liberalism. This misuse of the word would never survive outside of the conservative strongholds and our article needs to reflect that "liberal" has enormously positive connotations in most realms of the United States. I can only assume that you and Rick live in very red states or purposefully seek out conservative propaganda. There's no doubt that this propaganda exists, but for every conservative propaganda article misrepresenting liberals I can find you a liberal propaganda article misrepresenting conservatives and another article describing "liberal" in a very positive light. The difference in number between liberals and conservatives is not that great and among those with college degrees, who tend to do all the punditry, the difference is even smaller. luketh 03:57, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
No, I don't think you understand my argument at all. It's not based on media, talk radio, or punditry; I don't care what they say. It's based on politicians and the public, both groups of which self-identify as "liberal" significantly less than they do as "conservative". The effort by Republican politicians and their operatives (and a few Democrats) to turn "liberal" into a dirty word predates Fox News, predates talk radio, and predates the Internet; it goes back at least to Wallace and Nixon. It's been a remarkable successful effort; you may be too young to remember but in 1988 Dukakis was taunted in the final weeks of his campaign to "admit" he was a "liberal". He denied it almost to the end, before he finally claimed the label out of pique and frustration. Clinton and the DLC movement was a reaction to all that; most Democratic politicians will say they are "moderate" or "progressive" rather than "liberal". There has been no similarly successful effort to turn "conservative" into a dirty word such that politicians run away from it or the public is reluctant to self-identify as it, nor is the word used nearly as much in negative campaign ads, nor has any euphamism for "conservative" evolved parallel to "progressive". Again, these are metrics having to do directly with electoral politics, and not with media or which circles you run in. Wasted Time R 04:20, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Those are good arguments, Wasted, and I think I now understand your position. We both agree that in some liberal circles "conservative" is a slur and in some conservative circles "liberal" is a slur. Your argument is that more politicians self-identify with "conservative" than with "liberal." In a democracy, politicians must appeal to the center when they don't have a majority on their side. As we've both noted, the current political situation is such that conservatives hold the majority in the United States. Even when Clinton was elected president, it was largely due to the split in conservatives between Bush and Perot. Clinton never received a majority of the vote. In this political landscape, liberal politicians must be careful not to be seen as appealing only to liberals. That's why they are more reluctant to use the word "liberal" than conservatives are to use the word "conservative." It makes sense. However, it doesn't follow that this reluctance to use the word "liberal" while attempting to cobble together a majority has anything to do with accepting that "liberal" is defined a slur. The liberal base is fiercely supportive of the word "liberal" with its rich historical and philosophical roots. No one expects that a minority group candidate will actively appeal to their base during a nationwide election. As far as the defining of "liberal," it DOES depend on the news sources and political circles that you frequent. A substantial percentage of the public would object to defining "liberal" as a slur. Even many who are not themselves liberal may object to a misrepresentation of the word. luketh 04:37, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Luke, you're right that just the imbalance of liberals vs. conservatives in the electorate would shape labelling in ads. But it goes beyond that. Even in reliably blue New Jersey and New York, statewide Democrats are attacked in ads for being "liberal", and those Democrats generally avoid identifying with the term. Anyway, I've added a bunch of cites in the article to historians, writers, and advocates all grappling with why "liberal" has become a dirty word in the electoral process. I had no trouble finding such references in a search, but equivalent searches based on "conservative" were not nearly as productive. Wasted Time R 15:29, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Wasted, I agree that conservatives have been more aggressive in trying to misinterpret "liberal" than liberals have been in trying to misinterpret "conservative." Whenever a politician needs to appeal to conservative voters, such as in upstate New York, they need to respect this conservative attempt. Since this article is not about "conservative" it's not relevant to counterbalance conservative sliming with liberal sliming. However, since the section is about the contemporary uses of the word liberal, we need to include the incredibly positive connotations associated with the word by almost half of the electorate. Let's find a good balance and respect it. luketh 17:25, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

As an aside and out of curiosity, does anyone have any idea of how early the word 'liberal' as a pejorative was used? Did it begin with George Wallace's 'pointy-headed liberals' remarks? --Elliskev 21:59, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Some used to think that "bleeding heart liberal" was a pejorative and that began back when liberals governed American politics. Every political position will have its detractors, whether in the majority or minority. luketh
Actually, it was intellectuals who Wallace called "pointy-headed", not liberals. Mario Procaccino's use of "limousine liberal" dates from the 1969 New York mayoral campaign. And, yes, "bleeding-heart liberal" was already an established cliche by that time. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:59, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
That's interesting. I knew Wallace was referring to intellectuals, but I'd always heard that the term he used was 'pointy-headed liberals'. Anyway, the pejorative use dates back at least as far as the year of my birth. Maybe not noteworthy, but interesting. --Elliskev 01:08, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Girot: You write "In an article about Hispanics in the United States, would you include a section detailing the foul ways that Hispanics are maligned in certain bars and chat rooms. Of course you wouldn't." On the contrary, an article about Hispanics in the US that did not mention the prejudice they face would be unrealistic. It is all very well to paint a rosy picture of liberalism, but many Americans, maybe even a majority, are as prejudiced against liberals as they are against Hispanics. Maybe more so -- anti-Hispanic books do not regularly appear on the best seller list. Rick Norwood 02:31, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Poll is Still Open--Vote Above if you want to Remove Controversial and Inaccurate Section

This section can never be NPOV by its very nature. luketh 01:45, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Compare current version with version I proposed that isn't neutral either. luketh 01:45, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Liberals use the term "liberal" to refer to support of civil rights, fiscal responsibility, and international collaboration. As expected, political opponents use the term "liberal" pejoratively. In one of the 2004 presidential debates, George W. Bush described his opponent, Senator John Kerry, as the most liberal member of the the Senate and went on to say that the liberal positions didn't make sense to him [2]. Various tags have been added to the word "liberal" over the years: some tags are meant to be associated with American Liberals and others are meant to be associated with Classical Liberals, Libertarians, or Social Liberals. In the 1960s, a common phrase was "bleeding heart" liberals which referred to opposition to the Vietnam War, support for voting rights for Blacks, support for working families, opposition to the death penalty, and welcoming immigration policies. Many have considered "bleeding heart" liberals to be those who care about the suffering of fellow human beings and want to make the world a better place. Some have claimed that Jesus was a "bleeding-heart" liberal [3]. In the 1990s, some political opponents called liberals "tax-and-spend" liberals when fighting against the long-standing liberal policies of progressive taxation and social security. Republican talk radio host Rush Limbaugh often perpetuated anti-liberal phrases. (See also Politicized issues, Propaganda). Republican political consultant Arthur J. Finkelstein repeated the word "liberal" in negative television commercials as frequently as possible, such as in this mid-1990s example: That's liberal. That's Jack Reed. That's wrong. Call liberal Jack Reed and tell him his record on welfare is just too liberal for you. [4]

I'm not sure that the as expected needs to be there... --Elliskev 22:04, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Agreed. luketh 22:09, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
We need to distinguish between the meaning of the word and the connotations of the word. The point of the section you dislike, but are spending a lot of time rewriting, is that in political propaganda the word liberal is commonly used devoid of its actual meaning. For example: If I favor homosexual marriage, that is in fact a liberal point of view, because it advocates freedom for homosexuals to have equal rights under law. To call that point of view liberal is a correct use of the word. But if I favor increased government spending, that is not a liberal point of view, because it does not address either freedom, or democracy, or equality; and it ignores the fact that conservatives have increased government spending more than liberals ever did. So, to call that point of view liberal, as conservatives often do, is an incorrect use of the word. Now, you can think homosexual marriage is a positive thing or you can think it is a negative thing but whatever it is it is a liberal thing. Increased government spending is not.
The entire article presents the actual meaning of the word liberalism. The case does not need to be restated here. This short section is a brief statement that it has become common in political propaganda to use the word "liberal" in a way contrary to what the rest of the article explains about its actual meaning. To say more is to introduce POV into what is otherwise an objective statement of fact. Rick Norwood 22:07, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
We need both sides for NPOV. It's not accepted that "liberal" is used negatively except on FoxNews or among conservative circles. What I'm saying is true. Let's have both sides. Trying to state something POV as an "objective statment of fact" is the worst kind of POV. luketh 22:15, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
A couple of comments on the version you offer above. First, thanks for presenting it for discussion. Second, while I agree with the point about Jesus, I think it goes too far in this context. We cannot argue the case, only present it. I think we need to be inclusive on the list of phrases that have been used against liberalism: bleading heart liberal, knee jerk liberal, pointy headed liberal, tax and spend liberal, and most recently liberal bias. Rick Norwood 22:11, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
The comment about Jesus is what many liberals think. It's as relevant as the fact that some opponents of liberalism think that "bleeding heart liberal" is a pejorative. luketh 22:17, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
As I said, I agree with your point. But this section needs to state the facts about misuses of the word without getting into a debate on which side is in the right. Rick Norwood 22:58, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Agreed as long as we state the facts about uses and misuses. This is either a use or misuse of "liberal." Most liberals define "bleeding-heart liberal" as a synonym for "Jesus-like." We shouldn't say that they're right, but we should definitely present this meaning. In fact many argue that it's not good to be Jesus-like. Some say it's not good to give all your money to the poor. But that debate has no relevance to this article. luketh 23:05, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Can the POV tag go now? --Elliskev 01:20, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

I hope so. I've rewritten Luke's third paragraph to make it flow better from the first two, and to better lead to his "bleeding heart Jesus" material. I've got nothing more to add. Wasted Time R 01:23, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
The POV tag should stay permanently as long as this section continues to editorialize about the meaning of "liberal," (derogatory, positive, etc...), in contemporary life. "Liberal" has different meanings to different people across the political spectrum. The only agreed upon meaning comes from the facts and not from some editor's opinion. As an encyclopedia article our job is to describe the history and philosophy and let people come to their own conclusions about meaning. luketh 01:49, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
No tags - especially POV tags - should be permanent. We should work on the section with the goal of making it NPOV - it would be lazy to do anything less. It's not helpful for you to say that the section should be held hostage in this way. It is possible to write this section so that both liberals and conservatives will be satisfied with it, as long as we present both sides' views fairly. This means we should resist the urge to use terms like "propaganda" and "misuse", and we should probably find better sources than an Ann Coulter doll. Rhobite 02:02, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
I understand your argument to some degree but I think your proposed solution would push it even further toward POV. Presenting misuses and propaganda as fact is worse than accepting it as propaganda. Finding sources that seem more reliable than an Ann Coulter doll would present even more legitimacy to this extremely POV contention that "liberal" is used pejoratively by anyone other than the far-right. As Griot said in his vote, we shouldn't be covering the slurs that people on one side of the political spectrum hurl at the other. That's not our job and giving voice and legitimacy to this propaganda violates the principles of Wikipedia. Unless the section is fundamentally changed in character, the tag should stay. What kind of fundamental change would be necessary? I'm not sure. Sometimes entire sections can be built on POV ideas with no hope for redemption, only hope for removal. Titling a section, for example, Why the Iraq War was Lost, would be POV because not everyone agrees that the Iraq war was lost. Titling a section "Contemporary Use of Liberalism" as if the meaning has changed dramatically in recent years is POV and untrue. luketh 02:08, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Um, the meaning of the term has changed dramatically in recent years. Rhobite 02:14, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
That's your POV and you're wrong. That's why we need to remove this section. luketh 02:15, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

It's been a couple of days since I last asked, and there have been a lot of good edits to the section. Is it time to remove the POV tag? --Elliskev 15:26, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

I would like the tag removed, but I'll put it back if Rick Norwood continues to add language about "propaganda", "concerted efforts", and "misuse" of the term. Rhobite 16:32, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Individual preferences don't matter when there is no consensus. As is evident from this entire discussion page, there is no consensus. I've listed my specific problems with this section in great deal. As long as it continues to be a cesspool of rumor and gossip, the POV tag should remain. luketh 05:03, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm going to remove it with the (obvious) understanding that anyone who disagrees will put it back. I'd suggest that putting it back not count as a revert if things get silly in the next 24 hours. --Elliskev 17:11, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Fair enough. I've returned it. This discussion page fully explains my reasons. No usage of "liberal" as a pejorative is relevant or NPOV. luketh 05:04, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Forgive my short attention span, but could you please point out where you explained your dispute? If possible copy each complaint here so we can address them individually. It's getting kind of hard reading through this whole talk page. Thanks. Rhobite 05:06, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
My main dispute is described in the very message to which you're responding (as well as in about 100 other places on this page.) Solve that problem and I'll be happy. luketh 05:16, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Virtually every complaint on this page, by me or others, says the same thing. Pick one at random, address it, and, very likely, NPOV will be restored. luketh 05:21, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
OK, since your complaint ('No usage of "liberal" as a pejorative is relevant or NPOV') is not actionable I'll be removing the tag soon. Rhobite 05:20, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Of course it's actionable. Why is it not actionable to remove rumor and gossip? The NPOV policy of Wikipedia is inviolable. The tag must stay as long as Wikipedia's policies are not being respected. luketh 05:22, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
You're free to point out specific sentences in the section which make value judgments. But you cannot insist that as long as the section stays, in any form, it must have a POV tag. These tags are always intended to be temporary, and are meaningless without specific complaints we can discuss and compromise on. You started the poll, found out consensus is to keep the section, and now you're just trying to mar it with an ugly tag. Rhobite 13:55, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, actually I started the poll in reaction to LukeTH's claims and disagreements. But that's beside the point... --LV (Dark Mark) 14:47, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Lord Voldemort started the poll and it was poorly worded because it was a vote about "contemporary usage of liberal." How can anyone vote "No" to that wording? However, this NPOV wording was just a cover for writing about the sleazy, discriminatory, and extremely disputed right-wing claims that "liberal" is a slur. I HAVE pointed out specific sentences in the section that make value judgments. In the case all remaining sentences make value judgments. It's certainly possible for an entire section to be filled with untrue POV sentences and, in this case, that's what has happened. If we don't have the consensus to remove the section or rewrite it to cover some NPOV contemporary usage of the word liberal, such as the association of "liberal" with support for international organizations or something of the sort, then we should definitely leave a POV tag on the section to alert the interested reader to the fact that most liberals cannot agree with the neutrality of this section. A POV tag does not force anyone to agree or disagree, but it does convey the useful information that there is a dispute over the neutrality of the information described. Finally, I disagree with your assessment that the tag is "ugly." It's a beautiful tag that lets readers know when a topic is not considered neutral by all editors. luketh 18:35, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

(de-indent)Actually, LukeTH... if you had read the poll correctly, it was never about the section as it currently stood. It was just asking if the use of "liberal" in today's society was germane to the article. It wasn't about POV or anything. It was about relevency. --LV (Dark Mark) 18:38, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Then I propose that we cover the contemporary usage of "liberal" to denote support for international organizations which is more relevant and neutral than the disputed and likely false claim that some significant percentage of people use it as a slur. luketh 02:20, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Media bias

I think this deserves a new section on the talk page. LukeTH says that the article should not mention accusations of liberal media bias by conservatives. I don't see why this should be removed. Luke, are you saying that conservatives don't actually accuse the media of being biased? The truth is that many conservative commentators complain about media bias and it should be mentioned in this article. There is no reason to remove these sentences. Rhobite 22:08, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Media bias, if it even exists, doesn't have anything to do with this section. Start a new section if you want to include it. But we need to be careful not to be bogged down in political wrangling over modern issues that have nothing to do with the political philosophy of American Liberalism. This is an encyclopedia article, not a blog. Political wrangling is POV by definition. luketh 22:20, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
The point of this section has nothing to do with media bias. The point is that an article on liberalism needs to discuss all of the ways in which the word is commonly used. If I were writing an article about "infer" it would be appropriate to point out that some people mistakenly use it to mean "imply". Rick Norwood 22:15, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
You're right, Rick, but this article is not about "liberal," it's about "American Liberalism." Unfortunately you and others disagree so I lost the poll. But you're right that at least in this section, then, we should stick to the linguistic meaning of "liberal" in contemporary usage, both positive and negative. luketh 22:22, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't think media bias needs to be involved in this article. Accusations of "liberal media bias" are almost always attacks on the media, not attacks on American liberalism. Wasted Time R 22:26, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
I think the so-called liberal media bias DOES NOT belong in this article. The article is about "American liberalism." If you want to disucss this topic, find another place for it. The topic invites editorializing and POVs; it doesn't belong here. Let's stick to the topic.Griot 03:27, 3 December 2005 (UTC)Griot
I agree also. My vote above in favor of the section depended on it being short and focused. Rick Norwood 14:03, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Fair enough, we won't mention accusations of media bias in this article. Rhobite 02:03, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Permission and collaboration

LukeTH, I am not going to rewrite what you have written, though I suspect others will. But, when you say "add your own sentences but don't remove mine without permission" you misunderstand the protocol of wiki. Nobody needs your permission.
You're wrong, Rick. Wikipedia protocol says that when you change something, if someone changes it back, you should leave it as it is, and not get into an edit war. Don't remove my sentences without permission unless you want yours removed as well. Wikipedia protocol is about collaboration and compromise.luketh 22:56, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
The section is now a lot more focused, but I still think shorter is better. I understand why you want to make the case for the liberal cause, as with the Jesus part. I get so angry that my hands shake, when I read the anti-liberal propaganda that has been so effective in convincing people to look the other way when conservatives are incompetent or corrupt. But in long years of living among conservatives I have learned that they can see reason, but not if you try to back them into a corner. It really is more effective to simply state your case and then shut up and listen. Rick Norwood 21:17, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Rick, don't pretend to be a liberal. I've read your comments and I know enough about the political spectrum to know that you must be masquerading. The section is NOT a lot more focused. It's completely off target, but, presumably, that's your goal. I strongly dislike the fact that conservatives like you come to our webpages and muck them up. Understanding and a true debate of ideas is more important than getting your way all the time. That's a lesson that conservatives on the whole haven't learned. They're more concerned about winning than about collaborating and finding a compromise that improves the world. Pretending to compromise is not the same as compromising. I've never understood the thrill of winning for its own sake when you sacrifice honesty. An honest victory is a cause for celebration. A dishonest victory corrupts the human race, and, ultimately, because good always wins over evil, it will come back to destroy you. luketh 22:49, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Luke, you're letting your point of view get in the way of your civility. I've dealt with Rick in the past and he's anything but an ideologue. He and I have had some interaction on the American conservatism page, and I can assure you that he's not a stealth right-winger. From what I've seen, he's shown himself to be very honest, concensus-seeking, and neutral. I think that your accusations against his motives are unfounded. I also think an apology is in order. He did not deserve that. --Elliskev 00:15, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
You're right, Elliskev, I was wrong. Sorry, Rick. Please ignore my post below. Let's work together to improve this page. luketh 03:19, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Elliskev, you seem to be an honest and civil editor. I respect what you say about Rick but I haven't seen these redeeming qualities that you claim to have seen. Like you, I call things as I see them. It's possible that you're letting your conservative point of view influence your evaluation of the neutrality of Rick's contributions. It's always easier to agree with dishonesty that supports your POV than to agree with dishonesty that does not. Rick does seem to me to be a "stealth right-winger" and it is this very appearance of "consensus building" that is so dishonest. Rick made several claims that were not true in an attempt to make it appear that he was seeking consensus. Appearance is not reality. Rick knows my motives despite how much he may pretend he does not. I know his motives. To have a true compromise we would need to be honest with each other. Unfortunately, Rick is more concerned about appearing to compromise, knowing that as I am outnumbered, if he appears civil, he will get his way. This is a very dishonest strategy which I've seen too many times to be fooled by it. Without Rick, there would be hope for hammering out a compromise. As it is, I don't think there is hope. As I choose my battles wisely, I'll concede defeat on this article and move on. It's always hard to give up on an article you created but, as I don't trust Rick to negotiate and he will likely undo my work, it seems necessary. There are other more important tasks on which I can spend my life. Adieu. luketh 00:36, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Luke, do what you think you need to do, but I think you can be a valuable contributor here. I disgree with your assessment of Rick, though He is anj honorable conributor. Sometimes, the most challenging tasks are the most rewarding. Please give him and collaboration on this article a chance. --Elliskev 01:06, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Luke, you're coming a bit unhinged. Wanting this section in the article has nothing to do with political philosophy, and everything to do with how an encyclopedia article should be written. I've voted for every Democratic presidential candidate from McGovern on, and I've written part of this section and definitely want it in. Am I masquerading too? Wasted Time R 22:59, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Wasted, we've known each other for some time. I don't think that you're masquerading. What I do know is that you like to dig up dirt on everyone, whether from the right or the left, and you seem to prefer negative commentary over positive commentary. That's a personal preference, and, though it disturbs me and sometimes we disagree, you seem honest and you present good arguments. As for writing this article, it has a lot to do with political philosophy. Undermining American liberalism with a long section asserting that the conservatives have succeeded in their dishonest mission to define "liberal" when, in fact, they've succeeded only on FoxNews and in conservative circles, is definitely part of the conservative philosophy. You should know that their strategy is to say they've won enough, even when they haven't, until people start believing them and saying "well, you HAVE won." Wikipedia has a substantial readership. It's important that we don't let an NPOV encyclopedia article become a mouthpiece for a dishonest conservative campaign. Some conservatives seem to me to have few scruples, and, as I said above, they seem willing to say anything to win. Ultimately, this corruption of the human race, this cut-throat competitiveness that wants to win at all costs, even when they're wrong, even when others are killed and others lives destroyed, ultimately, this violation of the principles of human nature will come back and destroy them. luketh 23:18, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

First, thanks Elliskev. LukeTH, you may recall that one of the rules of Wiki is "assume good will". You have called me a liar. I am going to shrug that off. You are mistaken, but I don't think you are malicious, so let it go. But keep in mind that calling people liars is not a good way to advance the liberal cause. Now, let's move away from personalities and discuss the article.

The purpose of an encyclopedia article is not to promote a cause but to state the facts. You seem to think the facts favor the anti-liberals, I think the facts favor the liberals. That is neither here nor there. Facts are facts. Rick Norwood 14:52, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Discussing the article is a good idea. Thanks for your graciousness. Sorry for the false accusation. luketh 03:22, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

I've made a few purely cosmetic changes. I still think the section would make its point better if it were shorter. Rick Norwood 15:05, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Good point, Wasted Time R. Even Bush wraps himself in the flag of liberalism. It is only the label he drags through the dirt. Rick Norwood 15:46, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree completely with LukeTH. The article is supposed to be about American liberalism, its evolution, and its ideas. A POV section about what the word "liberal" means to a narrow cross-section of rabid right-wing conservatives does not belong in this article. If you look around this Discussion page, you will see that this section has caused nothing but contention. Let's can it right now. Griot 22:38, 4 December 2005 (UTC)Griot

1) That has been tried, repeatedly. See previous talk.
2) Discussion is a good thing, not a bad thing.
3) Your "narrow cross-section of rabid right-wing conservatives" won the last two US presidential elections, largely with the tactics exposed in this section.
4) When people hear a word misused so often that they think the misuse is what the word really means, then it is important to explain who is trying to change the meaning of the word and why. Rick Norwood 00:32, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
I think I am correct in characterizing them as a "narrow cross-section of rabid right-wing conservatives." The majority of conservatives in this country do not engage in "liberal baiting." Bush won the 2000 and 2004 elections for a variety of reason; using the word "liberal" as a slander was not an especially important one. Again, this section "Contemporary uses and misuses of 'liberal'" section only invites editorializing and POV. I urge chucking it. Griot 01:48, 5 December 2005 (UTC)Griot
If "liberal" as a pejorative wasn't effective, then Democratic politicians wouldn't run away so fast from self-identifying as such. 03:08, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Liberals seem to be, at least temporarily, in the minority. Many Democratic politicians need to appeal to other groups as well. I don't think your argument is sound. It's definitely your personal opinion and it shouldn't be incorporated into the main article. luketh 02:59, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Lord Voldemort's edit

I like your recent edit, He Who Cannot Be Named. I still thing the Jesus thing is over the top and should go. Clearly, Jesus was a liberal, long before his time, but I don't see how that belongs in this section. The reference for the Ann Coulter doll is given: The Conservative Book Serivce. Rick Norwood 21:08, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

I think Luke saw the Jesus thing as specifically relevant to the "bleeding-heart liberal" pejorative. As for Coulter, she thinks liberals are guilty of treason against America, not just hating America, so they gave the doll one of her milder lines. Wasted Time R 21:21, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

This is my point. This section should state what conservatives are doing and that is all. It is more encylcopedic that way, and more effective. The minute you turn the report into a debate, you make it sound like a talk room and not an encyclopedia. Rick Norwood 21:24, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

No coverage of this topic can sound like an encyclopedia because the topic itself is POV and irrelevant. It's making a joke of Wikipedia. Imagine World Book under the American Liberal entry saying that some people use "liberal" as a pejorative, or, under the Gay entry, saying that some people use "gay" as a pejorative. Maybe, though unlikely, it would be appropriate under the Pejoratives entry but most definitely not here. luketh 03:03, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Don't know about World Book, but as it happens, the Wikipedia article on "Gay" does indeed have the section Gay#Pejorative_usage. How about that!? Wasted Time R 04:23, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, it's not appropriate there, and someone should fix it. The article on Gay devotes a huge section to pejorative usage and much less to important issues such as discrimination, fight for marriage rights, etc.... luketh 04:30, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Who decides what makes an important issue? You don't think that our article should note that people use the word "gay" as a general negative adjective? Do you think that Wikipedia should just pretend that bad words don't exist? Rhobite 18:55, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Good questions, Rhobite. For words that are universally accepted as bad, the answers are clear cut: there should be coverage. However, what should we do when one group of people tries to use a word like "gay" to hurt another group? We can't say that it's intended to hurt without being POV but if we state it as fact and give credibility to such usage, we hurt the people it was intended to hurt and our presentation of it as accepted or widespread usage is also POV. In that case, we probably shouldn't give voice to discrimination. In general, it's best to stay away from sleaze. As for "liberal," considering its rich cultural place in American society, there's considerable dispute over whether any significant number of people use it as a slur. Supposing that some group of people did use it as a slur, we would have the same dilemma. Should we cover it truthfully and say such usage is dishonest and cruel (which would be POV) or should we cover it as if such usage is perfectly OK or maybe even accepted or widespread (which is POV that hurts liberals). When there's so much dispute, so little relevance, and no real way to cover such filth in an NPOV way, it's best to leave it out. luketh 01:59, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Accusations of "misuse"

Since Wikipedia isn't a prescriptive language guide, it is always POV for us to state that some people are misusing language. I removed the word "misuse" from the section header. We can note that conservatives use the word "liberal" as an insult, but we cannot accuse them of misusing language. I also made some style edits, and rewrote the following POV statements:

  • 'There has been a concerted effort over the years to change the meaning of the word "liberal" in the minds of the American public, by repeating "liberal" over and over again with a negative connotation.' - This sentence is unsourced POV. It doesn't say who is behind the concerted effort.
  • 'This propaganda has been successful enough that in one of the 2004 presidential debates...' - The word "propaganda" is almost always POV. We should refrain from using it. When we use terms like this it appears that Wikipedia is embracing the positive use of the term "liberal" and accusing conservatives of "propaganda". Rhobite 21:47, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
You claim that the article does not say who is behind the effort. It does. It lists Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, George Bush, and others. It would be easy to extend the list if that were not overkill.

You claim the word "propaganda" is POV. Not necessarily. There are many statements, by Carl Rove and others, indicating that this effort is designed to win elections. Slogans designed to win elections are propaganda -- that is, their purpose is to incite action rather than to convey information. Rick Norwood 22:34, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

I have reverted Rhobite's edit. I have objected to liberals trying to argue the point in this section, I have the same objection to conservatives trying to argue the point. The section needs to limit itself to reporting sourced and documented facts.

I still think the last two or three sentences are POV. Because the author of one of those sentences has called me a liar, I recuse myself from deleting them, but I think someone should. Rick Norwood 22:41, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

I am sorry Rick, you are simply wrong on this point. It is never OK for an article to accuse someone of propaganda. I would also appreciate it if you didn't erase my style fixes when reverting. Phrases like "earlier in this article" and "above" are amateurish. "classical liberal", "social liberal" and "libertarian" should not be capitalized. Resist the urge to make knee-jerk reverts. Rhobite 22:59, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
One more thing, a "concerted effort" is one that is "Arranged by mutual agreement; agreed upon, pre-arranged; planned, contrived; done in concert." (OED) Many people think "concerted effort" refers to a powerful or determined effort, but that is not a correct use of the word "concerted". Are we saying Rush, GWB, and Coulter are working in concert to promote the negative use of the word "liberal"? I doubt that the three have ever been in the same room together. Rhobite 01:22, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
You can work in concert without being in the same room. Aren't we working in concert to create this article? Most editors seem to agree that there is a concerted effort by conservatives to define "liberal" in a manner that would not be accepted by liberals. Liberals have likewise made a concerted effort to define "conservative" and "right-wing" in a manner that would not be accepted by conservatives. Neither effort has been particularly successful other than within their respective bases and maybe among a few moderates. It's true that the conservative effort has been better funded and in general conservatives tend to be louder. However, no liberal will accept the slurs from the right and no conservative will accept the slurs from the left. Both groups are really just fighting for a few undecideds. Conservatives have the majority so they know they can spin as they please. Most editors of this section are referring to some variant of the situation that I'm describing--some think it's more significant, others think it's less significant, but most accept the concerted effort part. luketh 05:04, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
If you have any evidence that conservatives are working together to change the meaning of the word liberal, you can cite it now. Rhobite 13:18, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
If you're right that it's just a few individuals (and I could be persuaded of that), then it doesn't have significance to merit a section. luketh 04:37, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
There is an article on about how pervasive the use of propaganda by the Bush administration has been and is. Here is one quote. "Propaganda is the only word for the Pentagon's recently exposed secret efforts to plant positive stories in the Iraqi press." Rick Norwood 16:08, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
What do the DoD's propaganda efforts in Iraq have to do with American liberalism? Rhobite 17:09, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
I was actually wondering what the purpose of that quote was too. How is this relevent to the article at hand? --LV (Dark Mark) 17:21, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Philosophical Section

All this dicussion over the controversial section hasn't done anything to improve the article. A key component of liberalism that is missing is the liberal philosophy. We have sections on history and positions, but none on philosophy. I've only added a few sentences and I ask the community for help to make this a good section. Let's explain what liberals believe. It's impossible to have an encyclopedia article on American Liberalism without describing its core philosophy. There have been a number of liberal philosophers over the years who would provide good starting points. luketh 03:28, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Agreed, you are remedying a clear omission. Another weakness of the article is that its history of American liberalism sort of fizzles out with the "End of the liberal consensus" around 1980. OK, the consensus was over, but what happened to American liberal thought after that? What about neoliberalism? What about Clinton (Bill and/or Hillary)? What about the split in American liberalism in the aftermath of September 11? It seems to me there's a lot of recent history missing. Wasted Time R 04:29, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Agreed, however, the problem is that conservatives keep talking about "the fall of liberalism" and describing internal dissent that is really quite fictional. It's true that liberals don't have a majority and that they've needed to build coalitions with groups farther to the right, but calling all members of this coalition "liberal," and then describing a "split" wouldn't likely be accepted by most liberals. Adding recent history would be difficult especially considering that some editors on this page have the incorrect opinion that liberalism is falling apart or something of that nature. Being NPOV about this will be difficult but if you're up for the challenge, it will be a welcome improvement. Note that Kerry, called one of the "most liberal politicians in America" by his opponents won nearly half the vote. That's a strong liberal following! luketh 04:36, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
You're being way too defensive. All vibrant political philosophies have frictions and splits. American conservatism, for example, is currently rent by divides on Wilsonian vs. realpolitik vs. isolationist foreign policy, proper levels of immigration, and "compassionate" vs. libertarian levels of government spending. Describing such internal debates doesn't mean that you think that the philosophy or movement is falling apart, it simply means describing what's going on. Stop overinterpreting everything! Wasted Time R 05:07, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Point taken. A lot of my concern is about the tone. It's usually clear when someone is writing with the intention to undermine or to attack politically. What concerns me is when an editor may throw in a dishonest word or two meant to evoke negative feelings when describing a truthful event. Then reading it, one stumbles upon these words, and the motive for those words is transparent. For example, in this article, there's a running theme of people trying to say liberals are in favor of huge unregulated government when liberals generally don't favor a much larger government than conservatives. It's just a political talking point. Since people know it's POV, they can't say it, but they try to throw in a few words to insinuate it. That kind of dishonesty bothers me. If you can't say it, then you shouldn't say it. On the whole your criticism is good and we should definitely describe all sides. If you can describe it fairly and honestly, I'm definitely in support. luketh 05:30, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
A bit of history. Originally this article described liberalism as a philosophy. The conservative contributors to this article insisted that liberalism was an "idiology" rather than a philosophy, and so the word was changed in the intro. There were so many other fights going on at the time that that didn't seem worth the trouble to fight that one. Now, I notice, over on the page on Conservatism, conservatism has been changed from an idiology to a philosophy. The words have the same meaning, but different connotations. I think it is time to call liberalism a philosophy, too. Rick Norwood 13:29, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
The following comment of mine was probably out of line. Sorry. luketh 03:25, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
I hope that the following is not your intention. Place the word philosophy into the header. Then say, "Why is there a Philosophy section?" It belongs in the header. Move it to the header. Destroy it. I've seen conservatives use similar strategies before. I hope everyone here is maintaining good faith. luketh 04:48, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
The terms should match. Both articles should probably use the term "political philosophy". Rhobite 17:38, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree. --LV (Dark Mark) 17:52, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
I disagree. That would very likely be a misuse of the word "philosophy." On, ideology is defined as "a set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system." whereas the primary definition of "philosophy" in this context would be "the critical analysis of fundamental assumptions or beliefs."

luketh 04:43, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Yes, good term. Wasted Time R 18:24, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
I think you're confusing the words. Liberalism is an ideology. Every ideology has philosophers who describe the ideology. That description is the philosophy. This is standard use of the English words. luketh 04:31, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Also there may have been some kind of dispute as you describe where you and other conservatives changed words back and forth but certainly it was not the original article. The word "ideology" was part of the original article of which I wrote many sections which have now been largely destroyed. luketh 04:34, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Luke, you don't seem to understand Wikipedia. Its a free-for-all, a Hobbesian state of nature, a quasi-Darwinian survival of the edittest. Didn't you ever see that disclaimer next to Save page, "Don't submit unless you're prepared to see your work ruthlessly edited" (something like that)? Your work wasn't destroyed. You sent your work into a word grinder, and you didn't like what came out. You'd be much happier submitting papers to academic journals, I think. Wasted Time R 04:47, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
It wasn't a complaint; just an observation. My only complaint is how far this page has degenerated. Almost all sections of substance have been removed. I suspect that there is a right-wing radical among us in sheep's clothing who is intent on destruction. luketh 04:54, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
The only path to happiness on WP is to write a really comprehensive article about something that most editors don't know enough about or care enough about to change (and the comprehensiveness preempts any editing ideas they might have), but that is of enough general interest that there are a good number of readers, and that is of enough visibility that it ranks on the first page of Google. Presto! It's liked being published. I've pulled off this trick a couple of times, but I ain't saying what articles those are :-) Wasted Time R 05:04, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Haha. Great idea! luketh 05:18, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
"Political philosophy". Hum. The anarchists won't like it. Rick Norwood 22:18, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
Why would anarchists care about American liberal political philosophy? I don't get it. luketh 04:27, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
LukeTH -- there have been a number of contributors to this page who believe that the only true liberals are anarchists, that any government is necessarily anti-liberal. Rick Norwood 15:52, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm glad that this misunderstanding was removed from the article. Maybe they're libertarians? This article should only be about American liberalism. luketh 19:01, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Of course they're libertarians! Rick Norwood 22:14, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

"Disputed" in section title

Is this what it's come down to? We're arguing about the name of the section? Luke, you cannot put the word "disputed" in a section header. That is a violation of the Wikipedia:No self-references policy. It's argumentative and pointless, and it fits in perfectly with your goal of torpedoing the "use of liberal" section by any means necessary. You wrote "please don't revert my edits". How arrogant - they are not your edits. Any text (mine, yours, anyone's) that doesn't improve the encyclopedia should be changed. I'm sorry if your feelings are hurt by people changing "your edits". If that's the case, Wikipedia is not for you. Rhobite 18:43, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

That's a false and baseless claim, Rhobite. You're losing your composure and definitely coming close to violating Wikipedia standards. We need to focus on the truthfullness of the article and maintaining NPOV. You reverted my edits without cause which was definitely unpleasant. You're the only person who has ever reverted one of my edits and you were wrong when you did it. An apology would be in order. If you don't like "disputed" in the title, then why do you insist on covering claims by people who make those claims precisely to cause dispute. You can't honestly claim that Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly are NPOV sources. There is serious concern about using Wikipedia to spread discriminatory statements and political propaganda. We should adjust this section to describe a neutral and accurate contemporary usage of liberal rather than giving credibility to a disputed usage by those who attempt to cause contention. luketh 18:55, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
If the claims were disputed by critics and commentators, we might be able to get away with using "Disputed". However, since it is disputed by WP editors, like yourself, we shouldn't use "disputed". --LV (Dark Mark) 19:06, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
You're right. It's the purpose of the POV tag to alert to editor disputes. The usage of "liberal" as a slur by some on the far right is not itself in dispute. We all agree that some people say some sleazy stuff about liberals. What I was trying to get across, maybe ineffectively, is that this usage of the word, like any slur, is intended to cause dispute. Coulter has said that she doesn't want liberals to agree with her and she doesn't want to compromise. Then she goes on to say that hard-working patriotic Americans like myself hate America. The relevance of covering conservative hate is in dispute. As Griot observed, by analogy, we shouldn't cover all the slurs on Hispanics that people with bad manners and bad intentions hurl at them. These insults have nothing to do with American liberalism and they're offensive and damaging to a lot of people. I'm sure that they don't conform to the rigorous standard of NPOV. luketh 19:38, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
LukeTH -- I'm amazed. You have only been reverted once? That's a remarkable record. However, you continue to miss the point of this section. It is not to spread Ann Coulter's lies. It is make it clear that the way she (and others) use the word "liberal" has no relationship to the actual meaning of the word. This has (read the section) been going on since Kennedy. But JFK had the balls to say exactly what the Republicans were up to, while our mealymouthed modern Democrats hide their heads in the sand and pretend not to be liberals at all. Rick Norwood 22:21, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
The best way to counter untruth is with truth. Let's focus on making this article a true representation of American liberalism. luketh 02:15, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Bush's quote

His full quote...

Yes, I mean, he's got a record. It's been there for 20 years. You can run, but you can't hide. He voted 98 times to raise taxes. I mean, these aren't make-up figures.

And so people are going to have to look at the record. Look at the record of the man running for the president.

They don't name him the most liberal in the United States Senate because he hasn't shown up to many meetings. They named him because of his votes. And it's reality.

It's just not credible to say he's going to keep taxes down and balance budgets.

I think this clearly shows that when Bush refers to Kerry as the "most liberal", it is not done in a positive way to sway voters towards Kerry. --LV (Dark Mark) 20:01, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree that Bush was not trying to convince people to vote for Kerry. His quote, though, focuses on policy disagreements. In this case, Bush contends that liberals prefer higher taxes and contends that Kerry has voted for the liberal position often enough to merit the "most liberal" title. Bush is definitely NOT using the word "liberal" as a slur. Rather Bush is referring, even if in a one-sided and unflattering way, to the REAL positions of American liberalism. Liberals will often vote to raise taxes for worthwhile social programs that improve America and the world. This usage by Bush is very different from Coulter, Limbaugh, and Finkelstein who use "liberal" as a slur. (As a side-note about this quote, it's interesting how Bush says "keep taxes down and balance budgets" as if they're related. Higher taxes make it easier to balance budgets. Bush has done a terrible job himself of balancing the budget.) luketh 20:07, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't think anyone would disagree with you on the fact that Congress (not really Bush's fault there) has done a terrible job fiscally. However, if not intended to get people to vote for Kerry, what would be the purpose of calling him repeatedly the most liberal? It would be like a racist saying, "so-and-so is the Blackest whatever". Okay, so he might be accurately depicted so-and-so, but the connotation that the racist put on it makes it a slur. --LV (Dark Mark) 20:15, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
The purpose of calling Kerry the most liberal was to make a case for policy differences, in this case about raising taxes, that Bush thought would be favorable to him. Bush didn't call Kerry the "most liberal" without discussion as if it would be perceived on its face as negative. Instead, he explained that he didn't think being the "most liberal" was good because of the liberal record of being in favor of a progressive tax system. Bush described a serious policy disagreement with which most liberals would agree. That's very different from slurs like the Finkelstein quote and "liberals hate America." Bush was relying on the "higher taxes" phrase to discourage voters from voting for Kerry. Note that Bush and Rove decided to go with "flip-flop" instead of "liberal" because, outside of the far-right and Fox News, "liberal" retains the rich positive connotations that originated with FDR. luketh 20:28, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Wow, are you so far in you can't see the forest for the trees? I can't even have this argument with you anymore. Bush's quote was nothing of a "positive statement" towards liberals. He wasn't saying, "Oh, here's the difference between liberals and conservatives..." He was saying, "This dude's the most extreme and do you really want to be voting for someone who is so far out there?" He used "liberal" as a slur, and to try and deny it is frankly rather absurd. --LV (Dark Mark) 20:33, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, we disagree on some of this. Note, however, that I never said Bush's quote was a "positive statement" toward liberals. If Bush loved American liberalism, he would likely be an American liberal, and he's not. I agree that he was trying to characterize Kerry as extreme by calling him the "most liberal." Any phrase with "most" refers to an extreme. The word "liberal" itself was used to refer to the particular positions on which Kerry was supposed to be extreme. "Extreme conservative" sounds negative even when not using "conservative" as a slur. luketh 20:46, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
So if a Democrat was to say, "He's the most conservative Senator in Congress. Take a look at his record. He can't run away from this one. He's just not credible when he says he wants higher taxes. He's the MOST CONSERVATIVE!!!", that wouldn't be a slur, just a difference of policy? Bush clearly was trying to disparage Kerry by calling him the most liberal. I really don't have time to walk you through this again. --LV (Dark Mark) 20:53, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
If a person says "most conservative" and refers to positions and votes taken by an individual, then, no, I don't think "conservative" is being used as a slur in this case. However, I'm not so arrogant as to think that intelligent people could not disagree. luketh 20:58, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Wow. --LV (Dark Mark) 21:04, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
It's hard to respond to that. luketh 21:08, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

This discussion is going nowhere. Maybe mediation is in order. Would you agree to mediation, LukeTH? Rhobite 21:22, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

What is mediation, Rhobite? luketh 21:24, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Please take a look at Wikipedia:Mediation. A volunteer from the mediation committee would take a look at the dispute and help us reach a solution which works for everyone. Rhobite 21:26, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, Rhobite. I'm not entirely sure I understand your suggestion. I definitely think it would be a GREAT idea for a volunteer to consider the relevance and neutrality of this contentious section on slurs and consider removing it. However, as for whether Bush was making a slur when he called Kerry "most liberal member of the Senate" and, even if this is true whether it implies that "liberal" was being used as a slur, only Bush knows and so I'm not sure that it would be helpful to have a mediator. Were you talking about a mediator for this entire section? If so, I am most definitely in favor because I don't think that this section can pass Wikipedia's neutrality and relevance standards. luketh 21:41, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
It doesn't really work that way - mediators don't issue rulings. They have no power to add or remove content from articles, they would only work to facilitate a compromise between you and other users. There are always 2 parties to mediation; you would be one party, and the other party might be me, LV, or Wasted Time R. You should have realistic expectations. It would be unrealistic for you to expect mediation to result in the removal of this section. Please remember that most editors think the section should be included in the article, so it is not likely that you'll ever succeed in removing it. I think you should drop that goal and instead focus on coming to a compromise.
Re: Bush's statement, it is obvious that he was intending the word "liberal" to be taken negatively. I find it hard to believe that you're arguing this point in good faith - it seems like you are just trying to disagree about something because you've been pressed to cite specific problems with the section. If you watch the debate video available here [2], at approximately 55:30 Bush makes the liberal remark. His tone of voice, body language, and choice of words make it very clear that he considers "liberal" to be a negative trait. I also take issue with your decision to move Bush's quote all the way to the bottom of the section. Does Ann Coulter really deserve higher placement than the president of the US? Rhobite 22:05, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
When it comes to making slurs, yes, Ann Coulter deserves higher placement than the President of the US. With reference to the Bush comment, we all agree that Bush wasn't trying to help Kerry. Still, by Bush acknowledging that liberalism was a political philosophy that Kerry supported, he wasn't using the word "liberal" as a slur. His entire quote may have been a slur on Kerry (although I doubt it, it could be argued this way), but the word "liberal" was not used as a slur. Compare Bush's statement with Finkelstein's quote where Finkelstein says "That's liberal" in a stand-alone insulting way similarly to saying "that's gay" as an insult. It was actually quite notable that during the campaign, Bush focused on "flip-flop" rather than "liberal" to turn into a pejorative. An interesting question is why Bush didn't jump on the far-right bandwagon and use "liberal" as a slur in the same way as Limbaugh or Coulter. One argument would be that Bush was appealing to all Americans, not just the few radicals who may think of "liberal" as an insult. A second argument would be that Bush needed to maintain his presidential image and, thus, needed to refrain from making slurs. A third argument would be that Bush himself may not be as extreme as those who, like Coulter, would like all liberals to die. As a political scientist, I study these matters carefully. What's important to me is that we don't spread rumors and lies on this page. If Bush's quote was indeed a slur, we can place it by itself on the page and readers will come to that conclusion. However, I highly suspect that without conservative editorializing and without placing this quote next to Coulter, most readers will agree with me that Bush was focusing on taxes and not on using "liberal" as a slur. As for the poorly-worded poll on retaining this section, the vote was 5-3 in favor so I understand that I may be currently outnumbered. However, editors come and go, and one day, hopefully, a group of liberals will take interest in this page and help us to maintain high standards. Finally, trust me when I say that my arguments are in good faith. I have never once failed to hold that this section violates Wikipedia's standards. As long as I'm outnumbered, I will work with civility, reason, and integrity to remove as much falsehood, slander, POV, and irrelevance as possible. I would like to see a compromise, perhaps covering what "liberal" means in terms of policy decisions, rather than talking about its meaning to people who want to destroy American Liberalism itself, those few, who like Coulter, spread hate and want all liberals to die. As for mediation, if that's not the right way to report Wikipedia neutrality and relevance violations, is there another avenue available for addressing these violations? It may be a good idea for us to move in this direction and ask a volunteer to consider removing this section for violations of neutrality and relevance policies. luketh 22:50, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

The entire discussion above misses what the section actually says. (By the way, I'm glad to get the actual Bush quote. At least the "most liberal" part should go in the article.) The section does NOT say that Bush was using the word liberal as a slur. What the section says is that other people have so successfully tarnished the word that Bush could count everyone to understand that to call someone liberal was to say something bad about them. Then the quote was repeated countless times on television commercials throughout the rest of the campaign. Those commercials were effective only because the previous efforts to trash the word liberal had been so successful.

Slightly off topic -- Bush rarely says the really nasty stuff. He lets Carl Rove hire people to say nasty stuff, and then he says something bumbling and inconsequential, to keep the votes of those who still think he's a nice guy. For example, Rove crafted the disgraceful Swift Boat ad. Then Bush says, "I think Kerry served honorably." Kerry's good name is tarnished by Rove but Bush still can pretend to be nice. Rick Norwood 22:34, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Thirty-seven edits (so far) in one day.

It has been documented, with sources, that the Republican Party has conducted a deliberate smear campaign to confuse the voters about the meaning of the word "liberal", and to give that word a bad connotation.

It is really so hard for us to agree on a way to say that, briefly, with documentation, and move on? Rick Norwood 22:12, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

No it hasn't. It has been documented that many conservatives use the word "liberal" as an insult.. there is no evidence that this has anything to do with the Republican Party. There is no evidence that the GOP is conspiring to redefine the word "liberal". Rhobite 22:18, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
In this case I agree with Rhobite, but I would change it to "some extreme conservatives use..." luketh 22:54, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Actually I've changed my mind. I agree with Rick. This is our best chance for a compromise. luketh 03:28, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Rhobite: It has been widely documented that Carl Rove and others are very deliberate in their efforts to redefine the word liberal, in ads paid for by the Republican Party, either directly or indirectly. And Carl Rove is hardly the first. This has been going on for years. Kennedy called them on it. It is a deliberate, long-term political strategy that has paid off. It has nothing to do with the legitimate debate as to whether the liberal position or the conservative position is the better one. Rather, instead of debating the actual liberal position, it attempts to convince the American public that "liberal" means something entirely different from its actual meaning.

BTW, I think it was you who said that "real" encyclopedias never call anything "propaganda". Just checked the Britannica index: there are 26 citations of the use of the word in Britannica. Rick Norwood 22:47, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

LukeTH: in one of your edit summaries you say that the article is about American liberalism not economic liberalism, social liberalism, etc. But all of these forms of liberalism exist in America. I get the impression that you are writing too fast, and need to stop and consider. Rick Norwood 22:49, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

First of all, I never made such a claim about economic liberalism. Please be more careful when making claims about my statements. When referring to the economic policies of American liberals, economic liberalism is indeed part of American liberalism. I DID say that classical liberalism is a distinct ideology from American liberalism. This is well-documented and you will likely see such claims on the liberalism page, classical liberalism page, and even conservative page, as well as in the header of this very page! Social liberalism, in the context in which I used it, is not referring to social policies of American liberals, but rather to the variant of liberalism that prefers state control of the economy. luketh 23:04, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
First, Wikipedia isn't Britannica and there is no reason to take cues from them. They do not have or need an NPOV policy since they employ professional editors. Second, I wrote that "the word 'propaganda' is almost always POV". I never said that the word is verboten in any encyclopedia. This is correct. Use of the word depends on context. "Hemp for Victory" is a propaganda film. Bush calling Kerry a liberal is not propaganda. Negative terms like "propaganda" should only be used within a very narrow definition. Rhobite 22:57, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree. Bush calling Kerry a liberal is not propaganda. A television commercial repeating over and over again that same assertion is propaganda. Rick Norwood 02:00, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

huge time gap

who cares about the stupid POV section, there's a huge time gap in the History section. It goes from Thomas Paine to the Cold War without anything in between. --Revolución (talk) 22:58, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Maybe you're right, Revolucion. Maybe it's better to start improving other sections and leave this section alone. I just get a bit discouraged because most of the good sections I wrote in the past were disassembled and not replaced with anything of substance. Still it's probably better for the article to focus on the overall structure. Would you like to work with me on new sections? luketh 23:11, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
In reference to this time gap, it may be best to remove the reference to Thomas Paine. American liberalism wasn't a distinct ideology until approximately the time of Woodrow Wilson. I had written an excellent section on the origins of American liberalism but it has since been destroyed. Maybe I can find it in the history and restore it. luketh 23:17, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
I've added a section on Herbert Croly, widely regarded as the first to combine classical liberalism with progressive values. He proposed the ideas of a planned economy, increased spending on education, and the creation of a society based on the "brotherhood of mankind," ideas that continue to undergird American liberalism. luketh 23:52, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

We should all thank Luketh for rewriting the "origins" section. Although I could quibble about a few things, starting with Herbert Croly and THE NEW REPUBLIC is a really good idea, especially compared to tracing everything back to Tom Paine.--Dogcanteen

We need to work on the New Deal section. This is when American Liberalism really took off. luketh 00:07, 9 December 2005 (UTC)


I have requested comments on this article at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Politics. I am asking people to come here and evaluate some of the proposed language for the "uses of liberal" section. Some questions:

  • Should we equate negative use of "liberal" with "propaganda"?
  • Should we claim that use of the word is "virulent"?
  • Should we claim that people who use the word negatively are "misusing" it?
  • Should the section have a permanent NPOV tag?
  • Should a talking Ann Coulter doll have higher placement than a remark George W. Bush made in the second presidential debate?

I hope new editors can come to this article and help us come to a consensus on these questions. Rhobite 16:38, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

I also look forward to some new blood -- we've shed enough of ours (metaphorically speaking). But your questions beg the question. Some negative uses of liberal are one thing, some are another. For example, if I say that liberals favor homosexual marriage which is forbidden by God, certainly my intent is negative, but that is an honest opinion, not propaganda, not virulent, and not a misuse of the word. On the other hand, if I say that liberals hate America, that is propaganda, is virulent, and is a misuse of the word.
This section was never intended to discuss honest disagreements with liberalism. Rather, it was intended to discuss misuse of the word liberal in, specifically, Republican propaganda, for political gain. It is comperable to explaining that even though many people now use the word "go" as a synonym for "said" this is not the accepted usage. The section is only necessary because Republicans have spent so much money and done such a good job of misrepresenting the meaning of "liberal" that most people no longer know what liberally really means. The first part of the article tells them what liberal means, but will naturally leave them wondering why the real meaning is so different from what they hear on, for example, talk radio or Fox news. This section should, briefly and will full references, explain.
Your other points. The section should be NPOV, of course. The disputed tag on the section was put there by someone who thought that the article should not mention the debasement of the word at all.
The remarks by George Bush probably should not be in the article, because they were made in the context of a debate. The only reason for them to be here is that they were later repeated in Republican advertising, shorn of their context. On the other hand, the Ann Coulter doll is clearly exactly the sort of thing that illustrates the deliberate misuse of the word for political purposes. It has no context, has no relationship to the actual meaning of the word, has no part in honest debate -- it is propaganda, pure and simple. Rick Norwood 22:29, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Sections have no intents! We can write about whatever topics we wish. But we cannot use overtly POV language. You wrote that "Recent smears of the word "liberal" have become increasingly virulent". Do you honestly think that is not making a value judgment? Why don't you just go out and say that conservatism has become increasingly virulent? Do you enjoy hunting through the thesaurus and finding synonyms for "bad"? You are still hung up on the mistaken belief that Wikipedia is a language guide - we have no power to say whether words are being misused. Rhobite 22:33, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Rhobite, your position is inherently illogical. You want to cover a contentious issue without accepting that it's contentious. How can you talk about people misusing "liberal" as a slur without saying that they're misusing "liberal" as a slur? It doesn't make any sense. If you don't want to cover the topic truthfully, then we shouldn't cover at all. luketh 22:52, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
It's fine to say that "liberal" as a slur is contentious. That means people disagree over its use. It's not fine to say that it is virulent, or propaganda, or misuse. All of those are Wikipedia making a value judgment. Rhobite 22:56, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't think it's fine to say people are using liberal as a slur when they haven't said so themselves. To say that Bush was slurring Kerry with the word "liberal" rather than discussing political differences is so far-fetched and untrue, I think it's much worse than saying that some people spread anti-liberal propaganda. Both sides are making value judgments. This whole section is a value judgment when we attribute a vile meaning to "liberal" that likely does not exist. luketh 23:05, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Hello, all. This is a mess, isn't it? I tried to archive the less-controversial and inactive threads to make the talk page more readable. I created the "to do" template, which seems to be helpful at many of the "controversial" talk pages. My list of "to do" is very rough, since I don't hang around this page much, so obviously change it around as needed. Finally, I reviewed the talk page. My favorite part was where User:Rick Norwood was accused of being a secret conservative - that really made me smile! (Please take that in the good humor with which it was intended). And, User:Lord Voldemort - keep your day job. Regards, Kaisershatner 22:37, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

I've tried to compromise, Rhobite. I'm happy to allow people to judge for themselves whether "Liberals hate America" is virulent. But since the doll is a perfect example of the smear campaign against liberalism, I think it should stay in. You want the book in? We can have both.

Everything we do has an intent. I think that to say "Liberals hate America" is virulent. You don't. Very well, the word is gone. But of course wikipedia says when words are misused. That is important imformation. Today, it is impossible to discuss the word "imply" without mentioning that it is a misuse to have it mean "infer". Rick Norwood 22:43, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

If the current section (mentions Coulter doll, does not use the words "propaganda", "virulent", or "misuse") is your proposal for a compromise, I accept. I am fine with the section as it is. Would you now be willing to remove the POV tag? Rhobite 22:56, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm glad you sought some outside intervention, Rhobite, but I must say that those issues that you described are not the most important issues. I'm going to type the most important issue in bold caps so that outside intervention will be able to easily see it. THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE WE NEED TO RESOLVE IS WHETHER THIS SECTION COVERING THE DISPUTED USE OF LIBERAL AS A SLUR VIOLATES WIKIPEDIA STANDARDS BY BEING POV. luketh 22:49, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
That question has already been asked and answered, but it wasn't the answer you wanted. The section is staying. Let's move on. BTW I'm caving in and voting in the poll, since you're continuing to press this issue. Rhobite 22:56, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Whether you vote or not it's still a violation of standards. What's interesting to me is that mainly conservatives are interested in this page. Why is that? luketh 23:08, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Don't call me a conservative simply because I disagree with you on a content issue. I am not a conservative. Rhobite 23:10, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, I should have said "right-wing." No slur intended. luketh 23:11, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Um, not one of those either. The definition of "right-winger" doesn't include "anyone who disagrees with LukeTH". Rhobite 23:13, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
No, but it does include editors who want to spend half of the American liberalism page covering vile attacks on liberals as if they were widespread and justifiable. luketh 23:15, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I'm surprised if people don't think that it's relevant to the subject of American liberalism that there has been a shift in the connotation of the term (American) "liberal" over the last fifty years, as well as a fight over the usage of the term (American) "liberal" in a pejorative context, as an ad hominem style attack. It seems to me that in FDR's day a politician might have taken pains to say "I am a Liberal!" whereas currently that might be limited more to the left wing of the Democratic Party and the modern term has acquired negative baggage. In the American conservatism article it refers to the Trilling quotation about how liberalism was the ascendant and dominant American political philosophy in 1950 and essentially the term Conservative was equated with reactionary or regressive. Is it not significant that American liberalism's connotation has changed? I'm just asking. In my view, this issue should be addressed, here, and incidentally, I think attributing the cause ONLY to the Atwater/Rove secret propaganda machine is somewhat too narrow. Might there have been some public backlash against American liberal geopolitical views (see: Administration of Jimmy Carter), or social and economic policies (see: Welfare Reform, see also: Jimmy Carter) that maybe made a difference, too? Kaisershatner 23:00, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Rhobite -- compromise accepted. Let's move on. As for the POV flag, I didn't put it there, LukeTH did. As far as I can tell, he is the only person who thinks the section as it now stands is too POV. My reading is that the only POV sentence is the last one, which LukeTH wrote himself. But even with that sentence in, I favor removing the POV flag. Rick Norwood 23:08, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm still not comfortable with this section. I think the POV tag should stay. I do understand that other editors think it's neutral and I respect that. However, my conscience will not allow me to agree to this section as neutral. Thus, while there's disagreement between us, we should leave the POV tag to reflect this disagreement. If nothing else, it will spark interest in readers to come to this discussion page to learn more and contribute. luketh 23:19, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Does your conscience have complete power over this article now? My conscience will not allow you to haphazardly rearrange this section of the article. Who really thinks that an Ann Coulter talking doll should be mentioned before the presidential debates? Rhobite 00:07, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
The talking doll is universally accepted as a slur. Bush may not have been slurring Kerry during the presidential debate so that claim not at all relevant to the section. Claiming that Bush used "liberal" as a slur is likely untrue. Since you insist on keeping this untrue implication at least leave it below sections upon which we all agree. My edit was not at all haphazard. If you disagree with my justification, then let's debate it in a civil manner. luketh 00:57, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Title of Controversial Section

Can we at least make the title accurate? It's clear that everyone is talking about "Use of "liberal" as a slur." Why don't we just title the section as such? I propose that we do. Please discuss arguments for and against in this section if you want to change the title. luketh 23:25, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm for the change of title. --Revolución (talk) 02:06, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

The volume of discussion over this section has surpassed my willingness to follow it, but yes I agree this is a good section title. Wasted Time R 02:10, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Liberal as a pejorative sounds better. --Elliskev 02:11, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree. A criticism and a slur are not the same thing. And technically, the Coulter doll isn't using "liberal" as a slur, it's making an accusation about the viewpoint of liberals. Not the same thing. If I say, "Martians hate Kansas," I'm expressing my viewpoint about them. If I look at you disgustedly and say, "Martian!" then I'm using it as a slur. Kaisershatner 02:58, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Conservatives do have slurs for liberalism, e.g. lefty, lib, collectivist, just to name a few. Liberal isn't one of them, though. It's a pejorative in the sense that the philosophy itself is deemed worthy of derision - no need to exapnd on it. This is all, of course, my editorial on it, as a conservative. --Elliskev 16:48, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm inclined entirely to agree with you. The section, if anything, should probably discuss serious policy disagreements rather than usage as a slur. However, most editors on the page are arguing that the word "liberal" has itself become a slur/pejorative. I do not agree whatsoever with this claim but I am outnumbered. Since editors want the section to be about use of liberal as a slur, then I'm in favor of an appropriate title. What I am against would be a kind of mixed section that includes sections on slurs and on policy disputes and makes the usage of the word "liberal" in policy disputes appear as if it were used as a slur. For example, the Bush quote is completely out of place because it was about a policy disagreement and it was not a pejorative use of the word "liberal." Implying that use of the word "liberal" during policy disputes is pejorative actually works to make the word pejorative and then our implications become propaganda. Having two sections, one about "liberal" as a slur and one about policy disagreements, would be more honest. luketh 03:44, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree completely that policy debate belongs somewhere else, if it belongs in the article at all. Rather, I would see a new article The American debate between liberals and conservatives. In any case, this section is and has always been about the attempt by conservatives to change the meaning of the word liberal in the minds of the American public, so that instead of meaning "in favor of freedom, democracy, and equality" it means "traitor who hates America". As for the title, I think the most honest title would be "Attempts to change the meaning of the word liberal." Rick Norwood 16:43, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Elliskev and Rick, I think both of you have reasonable positions. If we could pick an approach and go with it, this section could be alright. Wasted seems definitely to want a section on "liberal" as a slur. Rhobite seems to think that every use of "liberal" by conservatives is a slur and he's against any comments to the contrary which is probably not a tenable NPOV position. If I understand you correctly, Elliskev, you would like a section on why the liberal philosophy is deemed worthy of derision by its opponents. If this is our best hope for a compromise, I would not be against it. Rick, your position seems the most reasonable and truthful of them all. You want to acknowledge that some people are engaging in an intentional campaign to change the use of the word "liberal" in the minds of the American public from positive to negative. I think that if every editor does some soul searching, they will come to the conclusion that this is indeed what we are all implicitly acknowledging by including this section at all. luketh 19:10, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't buy that there is any conspiracy by conservatives to change the meaning of the word. Conservative are just and not liberals. On most hot-topic issues, there is disagreement. So, when conservatives use the word liberal it is a pejorative - in the sense that it's being used to generalize the opposition's stances as specifically not conservative. --Elliskev 19:43, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
But then, if you're right, Elliskev, that would make anyone who disagrees with "conservative" to be using "conservative" as a pejorative, or anyone who disagrees with socialism to be using "socialist" as a pejorative. If I understand your position, it doesn't give any reason to think that "liberal" is somehow special and that the negative use of "liberal" justifies this section when similar sections are not on the conservative page or the socialism page. luketh 19:49, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Close. I agree to a point, but the fact is that liberals don't go around using the term conservative as a generalization or a pejorative label the way conservatives use liberal. It's my experience that slurs are more often used, e.g. right-winger, reactionary, neocon, or with a qualifying prefix like ultra-conservative. The term conservative is rarely used in the context of Well, whadya expect? He's a conservative! Maybe it's used like that in closed circles, but it's not very prevelant... --Elliskev 20:21, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
It would definitely be a slur to say "Well, whadya expect. He's a lefty" and it would definitely be a slur to say "Well, whadya expect. He's a right-winger." If I understand you correctly, it would be a slur to say "Well, whadya expect? He's a conservative?," but you contend that this usage is not prevalent. You seem to be saying it's both pejorative and prevalent to say "Well, whadya expect. He's a liberal"? Would it be fair to say that your only disagreement is that you don't think people who use "liberal" as a slur are collaborating among themselves? [User:LukeTH|luketh]] 20:25, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
No. It'd be a pejorative to say "Well, whadya expect? He's a conservative?" And it's not prevalent. And, you are correct. My only argument is that I think that there is no conspiracy regarding the use of liberal as a pejorative - it's just become prevalent. --Elliskev 20:41, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm glad I understand your position. Rick and I disagree with that position for different reasons, however, for the purposes of compromise, we can probably avoid claims of conspiracy. luketh 21:04, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Elliskev that there is no conspiracy to change the meaning of liberal, at least not in the sense that what they are doing is any secret. To use the word liberal as often as possible in a negative context has been part of the established game plan of the Republican Party since at least the Kennedy era. There is a clear distinction between a philosophical debate between liberal and conservative positions, and the actions of the Republican Party in the United States, whose job is not to debate philosophy but to win elections. Rick Norwood 21:28, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm biting my tongue. And it hurts. :) --Elliskev 01:14, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Saying that the word liberal is used as a "slur" is too narrow of an interpretation. As Kaiser said a criticism and a slur are not the same thing. Rhobite 22:30, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Luke, I just noticed you reverted my change of this section title to "Changing political connotation of the term "Liberal"" and your edit summary said "not everyone agrees that the term has undergone a metamorphosis" (paraphrase, I apologize if this is not word-accurate). You have also reverted Rhobite on this point. I will assume good faith, but I must ask you to explain what your objection is to the introduction of this sourced paragraph: In the 20th Century, the political use of the term "liberal" has undergone a significant transition. Historian John Lukacs, in "The Triumph and Collapse of Liberalism," noted that the word "liberal" "has become a Bad Word for millions of Americans," and contrasted this with an example from American politics in 1951, when Senator Joseph McCarthy used "liberal" positively when condemning "a conspiracy of infamy so bleak that, when it is finally exposed, its principles shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all liberal men," and when conservative leader Senator Robert A. Taft stated "he was not a conservative but "an old-fashioned liberal."[3]Kaisershatner 23:03, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

First of all, Rhobite reverted my edits without comment, and, as you can see, I have commented on the reasons for all of my edits extensively. I'm attempting to reach a compromise with Rhobite if he will talk about the issues. As for your edits, you had duplicated several sentences so I removed the duplicates. As for the intro paragraph you wrote, we've been having an EXTENSIVE debate on this section. Most editors have agreed not to make any comments that convey the editor's point of view. Many liberals in the present time continue to associate "liberal" with its historical meaning. To say otherwise would be expressing a point of view. However, I overlooked the well-sourced sentences you included, and I apologize for that. I'll undo that change. luketh 23:18, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
One thing I do want to note is that those sentences about "liberal" being used positively by conservatives may be because, as that time, "liberal" was associated with classical liberalism as well as American liberalism. If so, then these sentences could be misleading. luketh 23:23, 10 December 2005 (UTC)


I quote, "A liberal in the United States is likely to favor institutions and political procedures that protect and empower the weak against aggression by the strong and guarantee individual freedom from restrictive social norms." How is the liberal position on gun control to be reconciled with this statement? Kaisershatner 03:04, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure I understand the conflict. Gun control doesn't seem to be an institution or political procedure. Even if it were, I don't understand the conflict. Could you elaborate please? luketh 03:34, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Sure. "A liberal in the United States is likely to favor institutions and political procedures that protect and empower the weak against aggression by the strong and guarantee individual freedom from restrictive social norms." I misread the intent of the sentence; my apologies. To answer your second question, I was driving at liberal support for gun control neither guaranteeing individual freedom from restrictive social norms (like the belief that gun ownership is not normative), nor protecting nor empowering the weak against aggression by the strong (it does quite the contrary by taking guns away from the law-abiding individual and empowering the State and the lawless over the citizen). But we don't have to have this debate here as it was my misreading that raised the issue. Kaisershatner 22:24, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

George Bush Slurring Kerry

I'm against the implication that President Bush was trying to slur Senator Kerry during the debates. I think it's a much more tenable position to argue that Bush was trying to expose Kerry's political positions because he thought that Kerry was trying to deceive the American public regarding where he actually stood on the issues. Hence the claims by Bush that Kerry was a "flip-flopper." If you disagree, please discuss it in this section. I know Rhobite disagrees, but he hasn't presented a compelling argument. If somebody presents a compelling argument that it's true (and suitable wording), there's no reason we can't accuse Bush of making a slur. luketh 19:28, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

No, you haven't presented a compelling argument for removing this. You renamed the section so that you could remove the debate thing.. that was dishonest of you. The section isn't merely about slurs, it's about use of the term pejoratively. Bush was obviously intending to insult Kerry's politics. That is by definition pejorative. And I can't think of a better example of negative use of "liberal" than a sitting president insulting his challenger with the term in a debate. Rhobite 22:41, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't think your claim is accurate or neutral. Why don't you start a new section on policy disputes. In that context, George Bush was definitely not insulting Kerry with the word "liberal." A policy dispute is very different from deliberately using a word to hurt someone. As for the title, pejoratives and slurs are the same thing. "Slur" is a more honest word because it's harder to hide legitimate policy disputes under it. For a compromise, Rhobite, we could have two sections, one for policy disputes and one for slurs. To put policy disputes in a section on using the word "liberal" as a pejorative is quite dishonest and biased. luketh 22:52, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Removing Claims of Conspiracy

In an attempt to reach a compromise (see discussion under "Title of Controversial Section"), let's remove all sources that claim using "liberal" as a slur is a concerted effort. I know Rick will disagree with this compromise, but, Rick, we need to try to hammer out a compromise. This means removing the citation to Professor Jarvis's book because Professor Jarvis claims "groups, particularly Republicans, have successfully demoted the term liberal, placed the Republican brand name closer to citizens, and forestalled critiques of the term conservative." Similarly, the article by Morgan says " The Fox Network has set a new low standard for what is considered "fair and balanced" news reporting simply by repeating the claim that its arch-conservative spin -- faxed daily from GOP buzz factories -- is "fair and balanced." Essentially, any liberal articles that may address this issue claim it's a conspiracy so we should remove all of those. Let's just leave the conservative accusations and stop trying to mount a defense as any attempt to defend ourselves just leads to more contention. A liberal reading such ludicrous accusations will just ignore them anyway. luketh 21:20, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Please do not say what you "know" I will agree to. Let me agree or disagree on my own. Thank you.
The whole point of this section is that there is a concerted effort by the Republican Party to change the meaning of liberal in the minds of the American people in order to win votes. If that is not in fact the case, then you were right all along, LukeTH, and the section should not be here. Professor Jarvis's book provides plenty of evidence for this, as does the article by Morgan, but note that the section does not rely on just a few sources, but on many. As I mentioned above, this is not something the Republican Party does in secret. They do it openly. It is their job to do it. That is what political parties do, they collect money and spend it to win elections. They are not even doing anything wrong (though elected officials who repay campaign contributions out of the public coffers do wrong). But the millions of dollars spent to confuse the American people about the meaning of the word liberal has been sufficiently succssful that it needs to be mentioned in this article on American liberalism. Rick Norwood 21:44, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

I personally agree with you that there has been a concerted effort. (My disagreement is that I don't this effort has been successful except in conservative strongholds.) The problem is that if we make claims that "there has been a concerted effort," then, as has been happening, conservatives are going to revert these claims because they cannot live up to the truth. I don't think you will win this battle. We need to find some kind of compromise. Since we can't remove the section, I'm in favor of a short, well-sourced section that minimizes contention. luketh 22:00, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Kaisershatner in the edit summary says: (ignores liberal Republicans, or conservative Democrats. This is not about party, it's about ideology). If your comment is about the topic currently being discussed so heatedly, it has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with party. There is a rational debate between liberals and conservatives over which ideology is best. But the conflict between Republicans and Democrats is about winning elections, and has nothing to do with rational debate. Political parties exist to win elections, nothing else. In the words of Stalin, the purpose of an argument is not to convince your opponent, the purpose of an argument is to destroy your opponent. Thus, the Republican Party hopes to win elections by destroying the meaning of the word liberalism, while paying lip service to freedom, democracy, equality, the free market, and all the other things that liberalism really stands for. That is what propaganda is -- the very opposite of rational debate -- but rather an attempt to manipulate words to produce a response at a level far removed from the rational. Rick Norwood 21:57, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
My comment in the edit history pertained to this sentence: "American liberalism arose in the early 20th century as an alternative to what came to be known as "conservatism:" the laissez-faire economic philosophy, realist political philosophy, and comparatively rigid social values of the Republican Party." I changed "Republican Party" to "traditional conservatives," and my edit summary was intended to reflect that there are and were liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. I didn't think the article ought to imply that "liberal" and "Democrat" are synonyms. Rick, I hope that clears up "what (my) comments was about." Kaisershatner 22:14, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Many thanks for clearing that up. I misunderstood. The article history has become so convoluted that it is difficult to determine who is doing what to whom. I apologize for jumping to a wrong conclusion. Your assertion is, of course, perfectly correct. Rick Norwood 00:33, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Kennedy Quote

After reading the entire speech by Kennedy, I think we should analyze the entire quote. "What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."" There are a couple of things to note. FIRST, Kennedy didn't accuse his opponents of using the word "liberal" pejoratively. He claimed that his opponents thought that liberals were "soft on policies abroad, etc...." There's no evidence that this claim is at all related to using "liberal" as a slur. SECOND, notice that Kennedy and other liberals were glad to embrace the word "liberal" and they WON the election. Clearly "liberal" had POSITIVE connotations at that time. It doesn't seem at all unusual that Kennedy's political opponents would claim that liberal policies were not great. This is a policy dispute not a slur. The evidence for claiming that this single quote by Kennedy implies the use of "liberal" as a slur during the time that Kennedy won an election as a "liberal" is not very strong. If someone is claiming that "liberal" was used as a slur sometime before the past fifteen years or so, then we need stronger evidence. If you can find such evidence, please contribute. luketh 22:24, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

So you rename the section and now you get to remove everything that doesn't have to do with "slurs"? How about we move the section back to its more general name. Rhobite 22:29, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
We need to reach a compromise. Editors said they wanted to cover pejorative use of "liberal" rather than policy disputes. If we are going to cover policy disputes, let's add a separate section. Better to have two focused section than one section that blends slurs and policy disputes making them dishonestly look like the same thing. luketh 22:32, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Liberal viewpoint

I'm not really sure how these two sentences, although sourced, actually distinguish American liberalism from any other political movement: "Liberals tend to see themselves in the context of their fellow man and woman and assume their rights are no greater and their privileges no greater than anyone else's, regardless of wealth or position [5]. Key liberal values are empathy, compassion, trust, and cooperation [6]." For example, is it a disputable assertion that "Conservatives tend to see themselves in the context of their fellow man and woman and assume their rights are no greater and their privileges no greater than anyone else's, regardless of wealth or position, or "Key conservative values are empathy, compassion, trust, and cooperation [6]." I'm sure for a number of religious conservatives, the latter is perfectly accurate, even without considering whether trust or cooperation are valued by laissez-faire or fiscal conservatives. In the case of the former, does being politically conservative mean one must assume one's rights and privileges are greater than other people's? I think not. The notion of preferential treatment based on race, for example, assumes the rights and privileges of certain groups are greater than others - is that an American liberal or conservative idea? I think both sentences could be struck without affecting the definition of American liberal. Footnotes notwithstanding. Thoughts? Kaisershatner 22:35, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

The sentences you cite are under the "Philosophy of American Liberalism" section and are well-sourced. The sentences do not imply that conservates do not share these values. Liberalism is not defined as a reaction to conservatism. Many conservatives do, indeed, share values that are also shared by liberals. I do not think that by claiming conservatives have these values, then it follows that liberals do not. Many conservatives have liberal values. The definition of liberalism in this section was taken from The New Republic which tends to portray the viewpoints and philosophy of liberalism accurately. luketh 22:42, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
I specifically noted they were sourced. I'm not suggesting that if those values are conservative then they are not liberal - I'm precisely suggesting that if they are common to both views, as you point out "many conservatives do, indeed, share values that are also shared with liberals," then they are not specific to either philosophy and can't really properly define them. It adds no value to either term - it's like saying liberals breathe air, eat food, and drink water. So does everyone else, so why include this? In order to define liberal and conservative we should report what values actually distinguish the two views - that's what I'm saying. Kaisershatner 22:47, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Liberalism preceded conservatism. These are central values to liberalism. The fact that some conservatives adopted them do not make them irrelevant to liberalism. These values, if nothing else, distinguish them from fascism and other ideologies that do not share these values. Not everything is a liberal-conservative split. If we removed all liberal values from the conservative article, we would find many displeased editors because the remaining sentences would not accurately portray conservatism. The same applies here. luketh 22:50, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Ok, I'll buy that those values distinguish it from fascism, etc. That does make sense, and I also agree that not everything is an L/C split. I still would like to know if there are defining values that are specific to American liberalism, because I think it would be valuable for this article to highlight them over ones that are common to many viewpoints. And my next question is, when you say "Liberalism is not defined as a reaction to conservatism," something that sounds right, but the article's intro states, "American liberalism arose in the early 20th century as an alternative to the laissez-faire economic philosophy, realist political philosophy, and comparatively rigid social values of traditional conservatives that came to characterize the American conservative movement," I feel there is a discordance. I think you're probably better qualified to reconcile those points than I, so I won't touch it for now , but something seems inconsistent to me about it as it stands. Kaisershatner 22:55, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
And NB the sentence used to read "Republican Party" not conservative movement. If liberalism predates conservatism then that can't be right either - or do I have it wrong? Kaisershatner 22:56, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
Good points and you're right: it wouldn't be accurate to say American liberalism was a response to the Republican Party or to traditional conservatism. Liberalism has never been a reactionary philosophy. One of its historical viewpoints is that people of all philosophies can work together to find compromise. The original version of these sentences, which I wrote, claimed only that American liberalism was an alternative to the realist political philosophy. Other editors added the other sections. Let's remove these sentences until someone, maybe you or me, does the research and provides citation. luketh 23:08, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Since LukeTH is off on his trip, all I can do is wish him bon voyage, but his statement "Liberalism preceded conservatism." Oh, my! I mention only Kung Fu Tze (Confucius) an arch-conservative of the 6th Century BCE. I don't know any liberals that go that far back. Rick Norwood 00:38, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Leaving the Country, Nice to Meet You

Haha, did you see the latest "contribution" by Rhobite? LOL, ah, man! I'm leaving the country for a three weeks vacation so I won't be contributing. It was nice to meet all of you, even you Rhobite, and I enjoyed the discussions. Have your way with the page, Rhobite, if you can get through the other editors. Don't muck up the page too badly. See you when I get back. Ciao. luketh 00:02, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Enjoy. Rhobite 00:21, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

use of liberal as a slur

Out of all the controversy, a respectable section seems to have emerged. I can live with all the changes but one -- the omission of the Kennedy quote. I've restored it -- it is to the point and documented.

Can we remove the disputed tag, now? Rick Norwood 15:49, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

I totally agree with the inclusion of the Kennedy quotation, which is a nicely-sourced documentation of precisely the point the section is trying to make - that people have used "liberal" in a negative context. I just moved the order of things around a bit. I think we can remove the disputed tag if you're more or less happy with my last edits, Rick. Kaisershatner 16:35, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

I like the return to chronological order, except that a couple of transitions seem abrupt. I'll sleep on it, and see how it reads tomorrow. I think if we go a day or two with no objection, then the disputed tag can be removed. Rick Norwood 16:47, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

Yep, I'm happy with the section. I still think GWB's debate remark should be included, though. Either way we should lose the NPOV tag. Rhobite 18:06, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

Fundamental distinguishing element

... of contemporary American liberalism is the increased role of Government, as opposed to American conservatives who seek to limit this.

This is the most clear and quantitative distinction, and it is neutral - it seems like everything else devolves into value judgments.

This sounds right -- but does not explain those American conservatives calling for a much greater role of government in private life -- a constitutional ammendment against homosexual marriage, The Patriot Act allowing the federal government to tap telephones and examine what library books citizens read, wars to export democracy to other nations, the right of the federal government to arrest citizens without charging them with a crime, to torture prisoners, federal intervention in the rights of states to legislate on medical marijuana and assisted suicide, and greatly increased (more than doubled) federal spending. Rick Norwood 17:40, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
then should the definition specify that American liberalism encourages a greater social governmental role and lesser emphasis on defense?
the increase in spending is a divergence from the conservative's stated beliefs; the role played by the need to appease Democrats can be debated. Remember, tax cuts were also implemented, which limits long-term spending.
also the role of defense is traditional, but the social role of government in America came in the 20th century, starting with Progressivism in the United States, so, as it is an expansion of the role of government, it could be argued that liberalism advocates an expanded role of government. (It may be less intrusive, or not)
  • sorry its so hard not to slip into political debate! These definitions are too easily taken over by partisan feelings - there should be clear and honest definitions.
Actually, Rick, (scare quote alert) "conservatives" who call for those things aren't really conservative. They might be neoconservative, but that is a much different thing. Real conservatives want to leave the gay marriage issue up to the states to decide, and want to cut federal spending by a great margin. "Conservatives" who tell you otherwise are not true "conservatives". Just thought I'd throw that in there. --LV (Dark Mark) 21:05, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
I think that that distinguishing characteristic is only part of it. Another way to look at it (contemporaneously) is that liberals want to change things fo the better and conservatives want to keep what's good from changing. It doesn't tell the whole story, but it it can explain something like the Patriot Act during fast-changing times. --Elliskev 02:12, 13 December 2005 (UTC)


I imported this text, might need some work, but it also raises to me the issue of where the Greens should be mentioned, and if there are other left-side movements/philosophies that ought to be mentioned. Rick, is American liberalism a "heterogenous political movement" with lots of sections under the blanket heading of liberal, akin to "American conservatism", or are there universal characteristics that specifically define liberal, or neither? Help. Kaisershatner 20:23, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

I'll take a stab here, even though you told me to keep my day job (I hope that was a joke, BTW). Both American conservatism and American liberalism are homogeneous political philosophies. But they are heterogeneous political movements. Each has a specific core of beliefs, ideals, etc. However, the problem starts when people don't follow every specific ideal within the philsophy. Some people who are "liberal" don't like a certain aspect of American liberalism, so they choose to ignore it. They don't totally disregard American liberalism, they have just changed it slightly. Same with American conservatism. Some conservatives don't like the isolationist, spendthrift small-government type of conservatism, so they form a new branch. They are still conservatives or liberals, but not fully. All the branches work together in the movement, but don't exactly line up ideologically. Did I make any sense? --LV (Dark Mark) 21:21, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, it makes sense. It's why I'm starting to think the article would benefit from a para akin to the intro of American conservatism that notes the heterogeneity of the movement. But I'll wait. And I was joking about the day job, after you said "I was joking about Hannity...I was trying to inject some humour. But that's why I'm not a comedian. --LV (Dark Mark) 18:19, 2 December 2005 (UTC)" I wouldn't fool around, I know what happens to people who cross you. Cheers, Kaisershatner 22:01, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
Got that right! But yeah, a paragraph explaining that the movement is not perfectly homogeneous would be helpful. Something to show that not all liberals are the same, and not all liberals believe the same things either. See ya. --LV (Dark Mark) 22:19, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

Philosophy of liberalism

I have some major problems with this section as written. As I have stated, I think it is over-general, and while sourced, it's essentially citing assertions about what liberalism is rather than evidence that shows why certain qualities are liberal ones, if that's even possible to prove. Furthermore, the specific assertion that liberals are empiricists I find puzzling - again, are there conservatives who are empiricists, or liberals who are ideologues who will believe in things irrespective of empirical evidence to the contrary? Or am I conflating "liberals" and "American liberalism?" Kaisershatner 20:47, 12 December 2005 (UTC) See also:[4] for a liberal and conservative take on empiricism. Kaisershatner 20:53, 12 December 2005 (UTC)


I strenuously object to dragging an entire section on neoconservatism into this article by way of the fact that it appears to have briefly been called paleoliberalism. We already have an article on neoconservatism, and this use of the term "paleoliberalism" has almost no currency (Lind is the only citation for it anyone has been able to find, and, believe me, I've been looking). This is tangential to what is normally meant by "American liberalism": it was a brief attempt—at a time when the word "liberal" was still a positive in American politics—by a faction moving right to somehow hold on to the name. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:57, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

And that goes double for the totally uncited claim that the term may come from von Mises. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:58, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
Joe, please Wikipedia:assume good faith. I checked out User:Paleolib's page only to discover there's a VFD pending on the whole paleoliberalism article. Perhaps I erred in trusting the content. I hope you'll agree that within the history of American liberalism there should be discussion of the break with the "Scoop Jackson Wing" of the Democrats and Reagan Republicans etc. It is a part of the story arc of American liberalism. The Paleolib article may not have been the best way to accomplish that, but I can assure you, my intention was not to introduce a firestorm of controversy pertaining to neoconservatism or anything else. I've been there, prefer not to visit again. Kaisershatner 12:52, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
Jmabel, I left you a little note on the page you mentioned. --LV (Dark Mark) 15:35, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
I followed up on some of the sources you suggested and they only further bore out what I'd seen so far. See Talk:Paleoliberalism. I have removed the dubious, uncited material from the present article. What remains is accurate and cited. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:04, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
Oh, and LV's sources did net me one more citation for Lind's usage, but still none for the non-Lind material that was here. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:05, 14 December 2005 (UTC)


This article has fundamental POV problems. First, it ought to be renamed to United States Liberalism. Second, the absence of a history prior to 1930 amounts to de facto acceptance of partisan conservative claims. A better approach would be to summarize liberalism in the United States in earlier periods, link to more extensive articles, then offer cited references to claims from both sides regarding the amount of continuity between New Deal liberalism and earlier schools of liberalism. For instance, Edward Bellamy and his 1888 novel Looking Backward influenced both Progressive and New Deal liberalism. Durova 02:55, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

I'd be glad to see a distinct article Liberalism in the United States that talks about the entire history of liberalism, in all of its forms, in the U.S. However, there is a very important political current in the U.S., which is commonly referred to in the U.S. simply as "liberalism" and outside the U.S. as "American liberalism", and we need an article on it. It needs a name. Clearly liberalism won't do, and Liberalism in the United States should ideally cover a broader topic. This is a (tricky) matter of disambiguation. If someone has a better name, I'm open to suggestions, but we can't bury an important ideology—for over a generation, the dominant ideology of a superpower—within an article on something else just because of a difficulty of naming. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:10, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
The title of this article, and of the article now titled American Conservatism, have been discussed at great length. There would need to be a compelling reason to change them yet again.
I agree that there should be more about American Liberalism prior to 1930. I hope someone writes it. Rick Norwood 14:54, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, there was already a large discussion about the usage of "United States" and "American" and community consensus was to use "American" except in cases where it is part of the subject's name (i.e. "United States Army"). If you need, I will find the location of the discussion. --LV (Dark Mark) 15:45, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

Page move

Do you think this page should be moved to Liberalism in the United States?



  • No. Page moves require all of the links to the page to be changed, which is a lot of trouble. If we plan to change this article, presumably we would have to make a similar proposal over on the American Conservatism page -- what if one proposal passed and the other didn't. Besides, we've been over all of this before, so there is no reason to think that if we did change it, somebody a few months down the road wouldn't change it back. Also, nobody has spelled out any reason for the change, other than personal preference. Comment by Rick Norwood 20:26, 15 December 2005
  • "American liberalism" is a very distinct political current; it is not simply Liberalism in the United States. In some aspects American conservatism could be considered more "liberal" in the international sense.--Pharos 12:19, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
    • Actually, we really should have a separate article on Liberalism in the United States (in the international sense). It is after all a much-discussed and written-about topic in American academia.--Pharos 07:59, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Nah. It's its own entity. --LV (Dark Mark) 16:16, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
  • No. I hate polls. Rhobite 22:29, 17 December 2005 (UTC)