“Progressive” vs “Liberal”

I grew up “conservative” and now identify politically as “conservative libertarian.” (That means I’m generally not too radical about what laws to not have.) I knew of folks on the left as “liberals.”

I recently read an indictment against that term, that those who apply it to themselves are too moderate. The author, @dexdigi, prefers “progressive,” partly because of conservative use of the “liberal” term as an insult.

After considering this for a while, I think this is an unethical position, mostly because of the propaganda wrapped up in “progressive.” Progress is motion in the proper direction, so for conservatives to call you “progressive” would be like agreeing with you. This is akin to a nation of people calling themselves the Better – in a language their neighbors use.

For that reason, they will probably not do it. This results in two words, “liberal” and “progressive,” for the same group of people. “Liberal” is at least closer to neutral in its definition (and really sounds better than “conservative”).

I get that the positive connotation is probably effective armor against Rush Limbaugh’s tone affecting how a moniker is understood. And I get that people should generally get to choose how they are referred to (within practical limits). But I think that right doesn’t extend to putting your propaganda in the mouths of your opponents, or to confusing people about which term refers to whom.

I really don’t want to imply assent to “progressive” ideology, because I have a lot of disagreements with it. Some conservatives prefer “ultra-liberal,” which has the negative connotation of being particularly immoderate. Plus “ultra” is kind of tainted by its use for white supremacists.

I think I’ll be using “leftist” pending a better suggestion. And while I’m at it I’ll insist on being called a “rightist.”

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