Dirty Liberals

Andrew Cline:

Walter Cronkite thinks John Kerry needs to find the courage of his convictions or else he “cannot hope to convince the nation that he should be given its leadership.” In other words, he needs to be proud of being a liberal.

The problem with that, of course, is that Republicans and conservatives have done an excellent job over the past 30 years of making the L-word a dirty word. Do not suppose that I am criticizing Republicans for this rhetorical tactic. I marvel at the skill and singularity of purpose it took to define as “evil” many of the central values of this nation.

An interesting point. Of course, the values haven’t changed, just the language.

There was a time early in our history when “democracy” was a virtual swear word. “Democracy” was tantamount to mob rule. What we had was a “Republic,” a representative government with strong checks on the majority. (Not to mention a rather high bar to suffrage.)

“Liberal” became a bad word over time as social movements–mainly by the “liberal judges”–created an upheaval in traditional values. Still, over time, the ideas that were “liberal”–such as those espoused by the likes of John Kennedy–have become so ingrained in our society that people who espouse them are “conservatives.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    It should also be noted that none of the supposed wonderful things Cronkite calls liberal have occurred in about a generation.

    He’s trying to run on FDR’s coattails? That was half a century ago.

  2. paladin says:

    Another way to look at this, is that it’s payback for the decades liberals marginalized and demonized conservatives with taunts of “racist”, “homophobe”, “bigot”, “want old people to eat dog food”, “want to keep women barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen”(MMmmm—what’s for dinner?) and all the rest. I say if the liberals are gonna dish it out, they had better be able to take it—either that, or play the victim card. Ooops, I guess that’s a no-brainer!