So you think you know what a liberal is.
"A liberal believes in Federal government spending and ballooning deficits."
Exactly. Just like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
"I mean, a liberal believes in a high income tax rate and death taxes."
Right, like those famous liberals Andrew Carnegie and Dwight Eisenhower.
"No, wait. A liberal believes in the autonomy of the individual as against the rule of the community."
Yup. Just like Ayn Rand. Which proves the total uselessness of "liberal" as a label for anything.
So stop using it, unless you're referring to someone who's a member of an actual Liberal Party somewhere. Or unless you're just desperate for a vague and meaningless insult, which is fine--we all have a primitive urge for those. Just remember that all you're doing is flushing a bowel movement of the mind.
(Which makes me think that Twitter missed a great opportunity with its name. Given its status as the cloaca of online discourse, "Shitter"--with 140-character "crottles"--would've been perfect. "Have you seen Trump's latest crottle?" or "Trump sure crottled Australia!")
But we all want to use labels, especially political ones. They help us in this crazy, multi-tasking world by helping us shrink our thinking into easily-digested portions that won't cause us to gain intellectual heft--the Slimfast of ideas.
The downside is that they are terribly psycholaxative and are a leading cause of early-onset Falzheimer's, a recently-discovered form of dementia rife among clickbait followers both Left and Right (who did not believe their eyes, were left speechless, but nevertheless completely demolished each other with pussycat videos.)
So you want to be careful with labels. You want to use good labels--not loud, empty, mindless, clueless, and obviously fake labels like "Donald Trump"--and you want to use them responsibly, in ways that show you to be, like me, the intelligent person your parents fooled you into thinking you were.
Most importantly, however--as with most of life--a little empathy is in order. The first step is to put yourself in the position of someone being labeled. Label yourself from the perspective of someone who disagrees with or even hates what you stand for. What could you call yourself that an enemy could also call you?
It's very important to do it that way so as to avoid the dishonesty projected by the halo effect of self-congratulatory rhetoric (see Let's be honest 1), which is just lipstick on a pig (my apologies to pigs).
The easiest way to approach this is to use that most common form of self-identification, the bumper sticker. If you have the Confederate battle flag on your bumper, you will be denounced as someone who supports slavery. Even if you say "No, it's Southern heritage," it doesn't matter. Your opponent has disagreed. You have to come up with a way of defining yourself as a Southerner in a way that doesn't also say you believe in slavery. Something along this line:
Or let's say your bumper sticker says "Pro-choice." Does that mean you have to own up to being a baby-killer? Of course! "That's right! I love to kill babies! It's my favorite thing to do! What about you? What's your preferred method? An aerial bombing by US jets or a drone? But only in the Mideast of course! Never in the good ol' US of A! But still baby killing! Yeah!" OK, so that wasn't necessarily very helpful in terms of reaching mutual terms with your opponent, but it does bring you closer to agreement.
Pro-life? Don't listen to me. Listen to Rachel Held Evans, who self-identifies as an Evangelical Christian, which I won't argue with unless she knocks on my door and tries to "save" me. In which case she's a Mormon, except in the South, where you have to roll the dice, and the Devil chooses. The only door you better be knocking on is Heaven's, which is why you want to listen to Rachel, because, you know, unintended consequences. You better believe God uses spreadsheets.
Maybe the eventual result would be bumper stickers on both sides that say "Doing everything possible to promote intentional, autonomous maternity." If that's not a real rallying cry, I don't know what is.
My favorite thing to do is tell people that I'm a 2nd Amendment absolutist who believes in gun control. Talk about recoil! It's like they pull the trigger on a shoulder-fired 55 mm howitzer! But all this means is that most people don't know the 2nd Amendment. I mean, duh, a militia is a military formation, and what military formation in the Information Age doesn't have a spreadsheet of its arsenal that shows what kind of popgun every Tom, Dick, and Harriet owns, how much ammo they have, whether they came to the last muster to demonstrate firearm fitness, and if they didn't, fine their asses so we can pay for everybody's higher education! Just like in the old days except now it's women too and you better believe in this militia Black Lives Matter.
Anyway, the conclusion of this Folly O'Barry is that it's time for a new set of labels that will serve to unify rather than divide. Labels like "people who vote on pocketbook issues" or "people who care about the less fortunate" or "people who think wealth should be spread equitably" or "people who want a strong defense but not an empire" or "people who think solar energy and single-payer health insurance are smart and the government should make them happen the way it's made smart things happen throughout the entire history of this republic, like a central bank, canals, railroads, rural electrification, soil conservation, retirement insurance, and interstate highways"--which of course completely demolishes the few billionaire fat pussycat videos standing in the way.
But if you still want early-onset Falzheimer's, go ahead and call me a politically erect libtard cuckservative.
And I'll stick it on your bumper.