A skunk by any other name

I guess it’s the conservative in me, but I’m not fond of name changes. Most of the time, they represent an attempt to gain an unfair advantage, often by attempting to shed an unsavory history with the stroke of a pen.
My bias against name changes explains why I haven’t subscribed to the Republican plan to re-name the Democratic party. President Bush, Karl Rove, and others insist on calling it the “Democrat party.” The point, I guess, is that, unlike during the Age of Andrew Jackson, modern Democrats aren’t particularly democratic in their outlook and approach to policy.
But I don’t think anyone is inferring otherwise from the name, or has done so for at least a century. Thus, the Dems aren’t gaining unfair advantage through their name. And using the time-honored name invokes the time-honored view of Democrats, whether favorable, unfavorable, or mixed. Thus, it’s more intellectually honest to stay with the traditional handle.
I’m even less fond of the attempt by liberals to re-brand themselves “progressives.” This looks like a classic attempt to gain an unfair rhetorical advantage by shedding an unsavory past.
“Liberal” earned its status as something of a dirty word (the “L-word). The policies advocated by liberals are widely viewed as unsuccessful and frequently out of sync with American values and/or common sense. Thus, it’s understandable that liberals want to call themselves something else.
There is no reason, though, why non-liberals should play along. Liberals can attempt to improve their image in one of two legitimate ways — by changing their ideas or by hoping that their standard issue ideas, which they now have the power to implement, succeed. Tellingly, however, they opt for a PR ploy.
The fact that the MSM increasingly enables this tactic is yet another sign of its bias or, more precisely, its alliance/convergence with liberalism. You see liberals referred to all the time as progressives in the MSM, but you never see references to the “Democrat” party.
Is the liberal re-branding helping liberals? According to a new Gallup poll, few Americans are ready to embrace the term “progressive.” Only 12 percent say it describes their views, with 31 percent saying it does not and 54 percent unsure.
Conservatives certainly aren’t being fooled — they reject the opportunity to be “progressive” by a seven-to-one ratio. Liberals, of course, are more likely to embrace being progressive, but they do so only by a margin of 26 to 17 percent. And Democrats as a whole are evenly divided as to whether the word describes their views.
Gallup suggests that these results indicate that liberals have helped themselves by trotting out the “progressive” label:

The progressive label seems to be gaining popularity in American politics, with numerous high-profile political players and groups using it either as a substitute for “liberal” or as a nuanced alternative to it. Given the high degree of public uncertainty about what the term means — as well as the lack of opposition to it from the political center — that could be a successful strategy, at least if the goal is to avoid being pigeonholed.

I’m not so sure. It looks like only a small percentage of Americans (mostly die-hard liberals) are prepared to bite on the term. The rest either reject it as a political philosophy or need more information. And the only information likely to make sense to them is the correct information — progressive means liberal at best and ultra-liberal at worst.


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