Bring Back The L Word

by Mike on March 2, 2009

in Media Bias,Politics

During the past few months, I’ve argued that conservatives overuse the word “socialism.”  That’s not to say the word shouldn’t be used when describing certain policies from time to time.  When discussing health care for example, few words better describe the Democrats’ goal of government control than “socialism.”  Using the word as a blanket description of our opponents however, is counterproductive and unnecessary.

Overusing “socialism” as a label can be counterproductive, not because of the scorn dying newspapers heap on those who use the word.  It’s counterproductive because repeating the word “socialism,” which is harsher than language used in the past, can sound over the top to the apolitical people whose votes we will need.  This is true even when using the word is appropriate.  Admittedly, the jury is still out on how effective the word can be.  What we do know is that a certain Presidential campaign that used the word more frequently than previous campaigns didn’t turn out so well.

What we also know is that there is a more effective word conservatives have used in the past.  For years, conservative political candidates gleefully tagged their opponenets as “liberals” to great effect.  In fact, the strategy was so successful that liberals wondered aloud why and whined incessantly that “liberal” became a dirty word.

Which leads me to wonder aloud why some conservatives insist on overusing the word “socialism” when its effectiveness is at best an open question.  The word “liberal” has served us well with good reason.  Even in Democrat years, most people know what liberals are and would never call themselves one.  I think it’s time to bring back the “L-word”

Hat tip:  Newsbusters

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sal March 3, 2009 at 6:32 am

Many conservatives are using “socialism” because that is what they see as happening. The wholesale attack on American Capitalism by the Obama administration and the left is frustrating and somewhat depressing to a lot of Conservatives. They see what Obama is doing as going far beyond the typical American Liberalism and moving towards a philosophically collectivist society, in which Government is the primary actor. This has become especially apparent in Obama’s Mortgage plan, the continued plan to buy up the banks, medicine, and in many other areas.

The label was unable to stick because McCain was unable to be convincing. Couple that with the fear the American people had after the financial crisis hit its peak, and he was doomed. McCain also did use the “L” word on several occasions, and Obama laughed it off and went into a mantra on hope, change, the oceans rising, and getting rid of the petty labels and politics of the past. It was only after the “L” word failed to stick that McCain started pushing the “S” word.

You are right in saying that the “L” word is damaging. Liberals run away from it like the plague. Yet neither word was able to stick to Obama in any meaningful way. I do agree with you that we should use each one judiciously. Maybe the answer is to describe Obama and Democrats as a classic tax-and-spend Liberals, and describe some of their more egregious policies (Health Care, Redistribution, the Mortgage Bailout) as Socialist policies. Just a thought to add to the debate.


Mike March 3, 2009 at 9:41 am

Sal, Obama’s policies are not far beyond the above and typical American liberalism. They believe in burdensome government control. We’re just shocked by it because we haven’t seen it since the 70′s. Even Bill Clinton was pragmatic after losing Congress.

My point is that the word isn’t effective. And even if we agree that McCain was just a bad messenger than the best case scenario is that the effectiveness of using “socialism” is an open question. We have solid proof that using the word “liberal” works. Why go overboard when we don’t'have to?

“Maybe the answer is to describe Obama and Democrats as a classic tax-and-spend Liberals, and describe some of their more egregious policies (Health Care, Redistribution, the Mortgage Bailout) as Socialist policies.”

I don’t even know why you wrote that one when that was exactly my point.


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