14 February 2016

"Liberal" is back in the U.S.

Liberal is one of the most honourable words in politics or, indeed, in life generally. According to my ITP Nelson Canadian Dictionary, it means "open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behaviour of others," and what better basis for a good society than that. Indeed, we proudly call our political system a "liberal democracy."

Unfortunately, U.S. conservatives managed to turn "liberal" into a dirty word thereby handicapping the nation's ability to absorb "new ideas for progress." But this is changing. According to a Pew Research Centre survey, in the last few years Democratic voters have become increasingly comfortable with the label "liberal." In 2015, for the first time in a long time, more were identifying themselves as liberals than as moderates.

This is due in part to Democrats coming together on issues. For example, twenty years ago homosexuality and immigration seriously divided the Democratic Party, but today Democrats, like the nation generally, are much more accepting of both gays and immigrants. The proportion of Democrats who are liberal on all or most issues has nearly doubled over the past twenty years.

With Bernie Sanders making a serious run at the Democratic nomination for president, the next Pew survey may be about how many Democrats identify themselves as socialists.

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