A key part of the definition of the word liberal is open-mindedness, or in a political context, favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression
That is why it’s important, for more than just semantics, to understand how illiberal so many so-called liberals really are, and that most of the people called liberal today are in reality...leftists, who do not view America as a force for good.
Paradoxically, the term liberal originally applied to what were called classical liberals, who adhered to a philosophy entirely opposite of what is called liberal today.
Classical liberalism originated in the 19th century in Europe and the US, and is based on limited government, constitutionalism, and free markets. That is very different than what is called liberal today, as the meaning of the word evolved into its current definition starting with FDR and the new deal.
In that more contemporary context, John F. Kennedy was considered a great liberal. But many people forget that while he envisioned the federal government as a force for positive change, he also passed major tax cuts and spoke strongly in defense of that initiative. He was a foreign policy realist who understood the dangers of communism and staked his administration, and potentially the future of the world, on standing against the Soviet Union’s placement of missiles in Cuba. And he believed strongly in America as an exceptional nation, inspiring a generation to send a man to the moon and exporting the best of American values through the peace corps.
These days, the great majority of what are called liberals believe in higher taxes, and therefore larger government, a relatively value-neutral foreign policy, and they do not view America as an exceptional nation.
But it is in the area of speech that we can most distinguish liberals from leftists. Those of us who grew up in the 60’s lived through the original free speech movement that began on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley.
The student protesters there rallied for free speech and academic freedom...for the right to express themselves freely and learn in an environment where controversial or minority views were respected in the classroom.
Fast forward almost 50 years, and most people involved in that movement would hardly recognize the illiberal environment now fostered in so much of academia...with its political correctness and speech codes that inhibit, even prohibit, the free exchange of ideas on campuses where all ideas should be more open for debate than in any other setting.
And so much of the so-called liberal media is not liberal, or open-minded at all, not when groups like the tea party are vilified for advocating a return to constitutional principles, while the occupy movement is glorified for trying to tear down those same principles.
That is not liberal. That is leftist, and based on the notion that America is at best just another name on the roster of nations. Genuine liberals believe in opening minds. Leftists believe in closing minds. And leftists have always known that the closing of minds is a necessary pre-condition for the revision or reversal of America’s constitutional values.