The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Friday, November 08, 2002
FROM THE RIGHT, I'M ROBERT PLANT: The new conventional wisdom is that if the Democrats want to recover from Tuesday's crushing blow -- that is, if they'd like to represent a staggering 51% of America rather than a measly 49% of it -- they need to offer a real alternative to the Republican vision. In other words, they must embrace liberalism again. This may well be true, but it begs the question: What the hell is a liberal these days?

There was a time when libertarians would complain that the Truman/Humphrey crowd had stolen the word "liberal" from them. But there are similarly giant gaps between the labor-left liberals of the '30s through the '60s, the post-New Left liberals of the '70s, and the Clintonite liberals of today. There are other definitions, too: In high school, when someone overheard me commenting that Led Zeppelin was overrated, he interrupted to say, "Jesse, I don't care what you think, because you are the most liberal person I know." So apparently, it can also refer to an unorthodox taste in pop music.

At this point, the Clintonites are more likely to call themselves moderates, the Naderites are more likely to call themselves progressives, and the folks who call themselves liberals just leave me confused. What kind of liberal, man? Do you dig the Wagner Act, the McGovern campaign, or Senator Hillary? Or are you just tired of hearing "Stairway to Heaven"?


posted by Jesse 10:40 AM
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