Since when is “liberal” a curse word? | Rickard Andersson

Since when is “liberal” a curse word?

A couple of days ago, Fox News did a segment on presidential candidate Barack Obama and the fact that he is a smoker. Now, this is so stupid I won’t even talk about it. I will, however, link to a hilarious image from the segment.

What really caught my eye while reading the article was this quote from the segment:

He portrays himself as a political moderate, but he’s much more liberal than he says he is.

At first, I thought maybe liberal had a completely different meaning in the US (as opposed to here in Sweden), but I was wrong. Here are the top 4 results for a google define:liberal:

  • broad: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; “a broad political stance”; “generous and broad sympathies”; “a liberal newspaper”; “tolerant of his opponent’s opinions”
  • having political or social views favoring reform and progress
  • tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition
  • a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties

Wikipedia has this to say about liberalism:

Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value.

How can anyone spin this into a negative? I thought USA was “the land of the free”? What about “with liberty and justice for all”? Guess not.


  1. Posted January 19, 2007 at 18:53 | Permalink

    Oh yes, here in the US liberal has a different meaning than the rest of the world. I wouldn’t go into how stupid this is, but I will describe what we consider liberal.

    As you probably know, America has two dominant political parties. The Democrats are liberal and the Republicans are conservative, in our terms. Considering that we have different meanings for both.

    There is no definite meaning for either. Liberal tends to mean people who want to increase government programs, which usually requires lowering taxes. Liberals tend to support conserving the environment, gay marriage, abortion, more social welfare programs, no war, and freedom of the press.

    Convervatives tend to want less taxes and less government programs. They generally are not compassionate in anyway towards those less fortunate, although they would beg to differ.

    Also, Fox News is the biggest conservative news station (probably the only one), so that’s why they use liberal as a bad word.

    In the US, what the rest of the world considers liberal we tend to refer to it as libertarian.

  2. Tom Young
    Posted January 22, 2007 at 23:08 | Permalink

    I thought I’d chime in here, if a bit belatedly.

    Conservatives tend to see compassion to those less fortunate as a personal or religious matter and not the province of government. They would prefer to see you give to whatever organizations and local charities you deem worthy rather than confiscate the funds for central distribution.

    That said, he’s right – the language has shifted a lot over the last couple of decades. The people who want to fit that definition you gave now call themselves ‘progressive’ to avoid the taint.

  3. Andy
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 19:08 | Permalink


    So you saying consetvatives think that churches can provide healthcare :))
    give me a break

  4. Andy
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 19:10 | Permalink

    churches do not have the infrastructure and capacity to provide health care for the whole country….you conservatives are so funny :)

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