No More Liberal Boogeymen

During the week leading into the inauguration of Barack Obama, when Pete Seeger led thousands in singing the more radical verses of "This Land is Your Land" and Rahm Emanuel was calling himself a "liberal," it really began to occur to me the extent to which a sea change had occurred. The backlash to the 1960s was finally ending. Liberalism wasn't the taboo it once was. And now, as Mark Leibovich reports in The Times Week in Review today, even conservatives are starting to shy away from trying to tar Democrats with the "L" word, upping the rhetorical ante as they find their previous attempts at smears weren't working (see, e.g., 2006, 2008 elections).

Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.

As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the "U.S.S.A" (as the bumper sticker says, under the words "Comrade Obama").

It seems that "socialist" has supplanted "liberal" as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as "Clinton" was in the 1990s and "Pelosi" is today.

I don't think we're necessarily going to see a massive shift in the ideological identification of the electorate just yet, as the reluctance of many Democrats to call themselves Liberals is still palpable. That said, this does have the feel of the beginning of a new era, one in which Democrats aren't afraid to admit that they are Democrats, or that they are liberal -- and, more importantly, that the party doesn't reflexively allow the Republicans to set the ground rules for the important political battles.

Tags: liberal (all tags)

Comments

8 Comments

Re: No More Liberal Boogeymen

They're going to wear out "socialist" very quickly.

The word's lost its sting since the Soviet Union fell.

They don't realize it yet, because they're living in an echo chamber.

by Bush Bites 2009-03-01 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: No More Liberal Boogeymen

How can "socialist" be useful when the Cold War is fast becoming a distant memory?

by rfahey22 2009-03-01 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: No More Liberal Boogeymen

It is a start when the party identification gap has shifted to a level not seen in 24 years.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/weekin review/01connelly.html?hp

Ailing G.O.P. Risks Losing a Generation

Americans identifying themselves as Democrats outnumber those who say they are Republicans by 10 percentage points, the largest gap in party identification in 24 years.
...
These days, 38 percent of Americans say they are Democrats, 28 percent call themselves Republicans, and another 29 percent identify as independents, according to an average of national polls conducted last year by The New York Times and CBS News.

A 10% party ID gap is huge moving towards the 2010 midterms.  We have seen many instances last time around that Republicans, mostly of the moderate mold, ran without putting the R- next to their name, shunning the party altogether.  With the party continuing its public opinion tailspin we will see probably more of the same in 2010.  

by devilrays 2009-03-01 11:32AM | 0 recs
They have nothing for the millenials...

Newt and Cantor see the fundemental flaw that the crazies in the base are still hanging on to...

They are selling a message geared to 1980.

But, who is the target, WHICH demographic is becoming more and more dominant every year?

The Millenials have NO connection to:

1. The Soviet Union/Red Menance/Yellow Peril, so scream socialism all you want...anyone that is terrified of socialism is ALREADY in your already shrinking tent...

  1. Their worries about Affirmative Action don't exist, because a lot of them DID go to school in a multicultural society.
  2. They are popping out kids like crazy, so abortion is not a big issue. They have family values already.
  3. They DON'T have a social contract with business like my father did. He had a pension, worked for one company, and the president of the company was NOT an A-hole that made 700 times what he did...But, they HAVE seen thier parents like me get SCREWED by Corporate America; So when Reagan sold "the private sector CAN do better, he had credibilty.  Who is stupid enough to want CitiGroup to handle their Social Security NOW?
  4. AND most important, Ronnie Rayguns in a historical figure to them...he might as well be Abe Lincoln.

Most of them never even started listening to RW radio, they have NO CLUE who Rush is...

Cantor, and Ginrich KNOW they need a new message to reach that crowd.

And Joe the Plumber ain't it.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-01 11:51AM | 0 recs
Liberal Boogeymen exchanged for Labor Union at CP

They still have an L word that they hate: the labor movement, that is, the mythical little guy. You would think that 2006 and 2008 would shown that the base is shrinking and that the Regan Democrats are tired of being pissed on with trickle down economics. Picking on brown people has not worked out as well as Rep. Tancredo predicted. No, the Plantation Senators like DuhMint have not realized that the country is moving away from fear, theocons and fake profits, away from the Party of Greedom.

D-4 to L-12 to S-19. The morans do know how many letters are in the alphabet?

But not me personally were those cheers for (1-6-7-5-2-8-3-4)--Sarah Palin

I doubt it.

by ttmiskovsky 2009-03-01 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: No More Liberal Boogeymen

Yeah, well, the other new dirty word is the E-word.

Europeanization.

by Charles Lemos 2009-03-01 12:49PM | 0 recs
Can Fortress America be far behind?

Where do the Neocons fit into this...

Oh, wait, I forgot. Richard Perle told us, there ARE no such things as Necons...

Talk about a disolute group, it's like Mission Impossible.

"If your governing Philosophy turns out to be a total failure, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existance.."

Bush who?  

Nice try, turkeys. You selected him, you loved him.  He's all yours...

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-01 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: No More Liberal Boogeymen

On the flip side how many of your rightie friends have moved from Republican>Conservative>Libertaria n over the last few years?

I even heard Glen Beck calling himself a Libertarian last night.  It's not cool to be conservative anymore.

by midwestdem1 2009-03-02 10:33AM | 0 recs

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