How The GOP Made ‘Liberal’ Into A Dirty Word, And How Being Liberal Became Cool Again
The history of Republican Re-definition.
Back in the time of President Ronald Reagan, the GOP reinvented the simple word “Liberal,” applying a negative connotation to the term. They have been successfully marketing new definitions for many other English words and phrases over the years.
How does the GOP get away with this? Marketing and organization.
Consider GOPAC, an organization created in 1978 dedicated to educating Republican candidates and leaders on how to be appropriate Republicans. In 1996, then Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, created two lists, one list of warm, fuzzy, patriotic words that Republicans should always use when speaking about themselves and of fellow Republicans. A list was also created of dark, scary anti- American sounding words to be used and repeated whenever Republicans were to speak about Democrats or anyone else not on the side of Republicans.
Mr. Gingrich described the pro Republican list as optimistic and positive words which included family, freedom, liberty, prosperity, rights, and respect. Listen to any Republican today and this is what you will hear. The list of the contrasting words to be used when talking about Democrats included betray, corrupt, destroy, failure, intolerant, liberal, lie, steal, and the most hated, taxes. Listen to any Republican today and this is what you will also hear.
Then there is that master wordsmith and focus group testing guru, Frank Luntz, the GOP team leader in changing language to make it politically palatable and fit in with the right wing agenda. Mr. Luntz brags that :
“We make sure you know exactly what your audience wants and needs to hear.”
Consider the George W. Bush era “Clear Skies Initiative,” which sounds great but in reality was nothing more than measures allowing power plants to dump more pollutants into the air. The “No Child Left Behind Act,” which was marketed as a great plan to better our public schools, actually turned out to be a complete failure which in reality operated to help drive already crumbling inner city public school system towards total destruction. It would have been more accurate to call it the “My Child Attends A Good Public Or Private School So The Heck With Your Child Act.” Chances are if the GOP is selling it, you really don’t want it.
It was also during the George W. Bush Administration that the GOP began to successfully push the term “Democrat Party.” They turned a noun into an adjective that was linked to liberalism, weakness, and giving away the tax money of hardworking Americans to the lazy and the undeserving.
Moving forward to the bind that we are in today, Mr. Luntz has learned through his focus groups that Teabullies hate the term “compromise.” Because of years of Republican word gymnastics, feelings of betrayal and weakness are evoked when Teabullies hear that elected officials would stoop to something like agreeing to compromise. And this is why we hear Speaker Boehner bemoaning the fact that all he wants is to “have a conversation”, even though that is a complete lie as the GOP has refused to discuss anything with this President and the Democrats since they took over the House in 2011.
This goes hand in hand with “Obamacare,” a term designed to forever link another socialist give away to the lazy and undeserving with the first African American President in the history of the Republic. No wonder so many voters long for replacement of “Obamacare” with the Affordable Healthcare Act.
Given the current Gallup Poll which has the GOP favorobility rating at 28% and the Democratic Party at a 43% favorability rating, it seems clear that Liberals will now be coming out of the closet in even greater numbers. Go ahead, admit it to yourself, then come join the growing throng who will have no problem calling things as they really are and not as they are in dreams or as someone tells us they should be.
2014 and the years to follow. The years of the Liberals. Let’s make it so.