Poll after poll shows big government projects have lost public trust. Wide skepticism greets the announcement of any new proposed social program. Can you even remember the last time the federal government tried to fix a social program the way it did in the 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s? What happened to the liberals?
Now even liberals run away from the term. For a while they called themselves “progressives” but that didn’t work because nobody understood the difference.
Can the diminishment liberal politics trace back to an attack on the term itself?
Liberal writer David Morris of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and ad its initiative on The Public Good, argues persuasively that political opponents first sought to demonize the word in order to undermine the philosophy.
“By the 1990s the word ‘liberal’ had almost become radioactive,” he writes on Alternet. “A famous 1996 GOPAC memo titled, Language: A Key Mechanism of Control offered election campaign advice from Newt Gingrich to Republican candidates. The memo helpfully listed dozens of words candidates should use to promote themselves and denounce their opponents. On the negative list was the liberal along with words like ‘intolerant,’ ‘traitors’ and ‘corrupt.’”