Help me get my head on straight about a political idea
October 25, 2007 4:55 PM   Subscribe

How can a person who doesn't even have a blog start a meme like thing, a cultural change or influence based on word play?

I'm really tired of the use of the word "liberal", "lib" etc. So my propagandist idea is to somehow replace it with "progressive" or anything that doesn't connote mediocrity, weakness and lack of focus.

It's a long shot, and no I'm not exactly pro-Democrat, but it's worth a try.

(sorry-kinda USian context)
posted by snsranch to Law & Government (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
How can a person who doesn't even have a blog start a meme like thing, a cultural change or influence based on word play?

By getting a blog.

Except in this case, you couldn't really credit yourself with making this change. Tons of people are already trying to do this.
posted by jejune at 5:00 PM on October 25, 2007


jejune, not looking for credit, but it sounds like I've been missing something. Where is this happening?
posted by snsranch at 5:15 PM on October 25, 2007


This isn't new—lots of other people have been trying to replace "liberal" with "progressive." People like me (an independent) are understandably skeptical of this attempt at "rebranding."
posted by limeonaire at 5:19 PM on October 25, 2007


I think this effort has been underway for several years, but you don't need a blog to start new memes. Just say catchy things to people who are well connected socially.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 5:20 PM on October 25, 2007


Where is this happening?

All over the place. It recently came up in a Democratic Presidential debate.

Mrs. Clinton, how would you define the word "liberal?"

And would you use this word to describe yourself?

...

I prefer the word "progressive," which has a real American meaning...

posted by scottreynen at 5:22 PM on October 25, 2007


Here's one discussion of this on AskMe.
posted by limeonaire at 5:26 PM on October 25, 2007


This is also good.
posted by limeonaire at 5:28 PM on October 25, 2007


Well if this has been underway for years, I'm certainly not changing anything! I didn't really think of it as rebranding. I guess it really is, although I can't imagine anyone actually wanting to be known as a "liberal".

Thanks folks, for clearing that up.
posted by snsranch at 5:36 PM on October 25, 2007


what is wrong with being liberal? Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry

perhaps you don't like the connotation rather than the denotation?
posted by Megafly at 5:41 PM on October 25, 2007


I can't imagine anyone actually wanting to be known as a "liberal".

I'll proudly identify as a liberal. Where'd you get the idea that it's a bad thing? (Aside from Rush Limbaugh and Fox news)
posted by chrisamiller at 5:48 PM on October 25, 2007


I identify as a liberal too. I'm just tired of "liberal" equating to "impotent", although that might well be true. I certainly feel impotent regarding politics and in the shaping of the country.
posted by snsranch at 6:20 PM on October 25, 2007


Perhaps you might turn your energies to doing the same kind of pejorative hit job on "conservative" that Karl Rove and his ilk did to "liberal."
posted by ottereroticist at 6:21 PM on October 25, 2007


ottereroticist, that's even more difficult. "Conservative" as "fundamentalist" as "American Jihadist"?

As strongly as I feel, I'm not feeling the person for these tasks. I reach because there isn't anyone I can stand behind and support. I'll keep reaching.
posted by snsranch at 6:25 PM on October 25, 2007


Agree that a lot of people have tried / are trying to do this, although with questionable success. I'm not sure it's a good idea -- personally, I associate the word "progressive" with college-campus ultra-lefties. The worst kind of toothless radicals, basically.

If 'liberal' has a negative connotation these days, it's been earned by those flying that banner. It certainly starts out as a word that has a lot of positive connotations, historically. Democracy as a political system is a 'liberal' idea, as is secularism, and many other core American ideals.

I think it's unfortunate that it's become a dirty word, but I think it's weirder that anyone allowed their opponents to co-opt "liberal" for their own.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:06 PM on October 25, 2007


How can a person who doesn't even have a blog start a meme like thing, a cultural change or influence based on word play?

I'm sorry, but the answer is "You don't". With or without a blog. "My heart is pure, I can move mountains." Well, not if the mountain has anything to say about it.

There are 300 million people in this country, and nearly all of them don't give a damn what you think. (Or what I think.) You aren't going to change the way they use language. Not going to happen.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:26 PM on October 25, 2007


You aren't going to change the way they use language. Not going to happen.

Well, probably not. But it's not impossible, SCDB. I think the key is to have a strong voice that people want to reproduce. You need dozens then hundreds then thousands then millions of people using your particular phrase. Without a forum (blog, journalism, tv, radio, internet, etc.), it's next to impossible to do this.

Though he's not of the same political stripes as you, it might be worthwhile to check out Frank Luntz, who's made a career out of using/revising language, not only to influence policy but also to win elections.*


*for George W. Bush
posted by dhammond at 10:17 PM on October 25, 2007


'Liberal' only has these meanings in the United States. I never get over hearing it spat out by your conservative wingnut TV people like it's some kind of swear word.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:27 PM on October 25, 2007


In America, liberal means a communist homosexual who hates freedom. In France, where I'm living this year, it means a genetically-modified, burger-munching capitalist who wants to abolish the government. I like to think of myself as being a mix between these two.
Don't runaway from the word. Even if you're successful eventually the word 'progressive' will get similarly tainted.
posted by greytape at 2:41 AM on October 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


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