What is your definition of a Political "Liberal"?

In my ongoing posts about language and subjectivity (which have been great so far) I wonder... What is your definition a political "liberal"?


Most Helpful Guy

  • "Liberal" means something different on the two sides of the Atlantic. In the US, as I understand it, "liberal" is generally equated with "left-leaning". Here in continental Europe, left parties (and individuals) are usually called Social Democrats or Socialists. For example you've got the Partie Socialiste in France, the Sozialdemokratische Partei in Germany, the Partido Socialista in Spain or the Socialdemokraterne in Denmark. In some countries, they've also retained their original names from the 19th century, when communist movements were very strong. This can be seen in the Norwegian Arbeiderpartiet or the Dutch Partij van de Arbeid (or also the British Labour Party).

    Contrary to America, a liberal in Europe is usually conservative in economic matters but relaxed about social matters. Europeans liberals usually fight for low taxes for large enterprises, tax breaks for the rich, privatization, free and globalized markets - but also gay rights, decriminalization of (soft) drugs, an open-mindedness towards modern medical techniques of reproduction (to help people with disabilities have healthy children) etc..
    I think what comes closest to a European liberal in the US would be a libertarian. European liberals are usually center-right to right-wing.


Have an opinion?

What Girls Said 1

  • Annoying little pussy crybaby hypocrites

    • you mind expanding on why you think they are hypocrites?

    • Most liberals I know at college believe they're the most open and accepting people of any opinion. Always calling out "shamers" or anything.
      But the moment you disagree with their opinions or views, they become the most closed minded and mean people ever. They jump to accusatory words like "racist, sexist" etc. without even letting you speak in the conversation.

    • thanks for explaining that further.

What Guys Said 4

  • When the US was founded in the 18th Century, the word "liberal" meant something very different than it does today - in fact, they had to "invent" the word "libertarian" because the definition of "liberal" had changed so much. US founding fathers would largely be libertarians under today's definitions, with a few exceptions.

    Today, in the US, "liberal" means a socialist (more government control, moving towards totalitarianism) and socially much less conservative. "Conservative" means fiscal conservative/small government but more socially conservative.

    I'm not really sure how those attributes were drawn, but in my opinion, it puts one good thing and one bad thing in each pile, so that they both suck.

    I'm a libertarian (or a "classic liberal') in that I am for social freedom (equality for all, live-and-let-live as long as you aren't harming someone else) and fiscally conservative/small government.


    You can't really talk about political positions along a single line, because there are two axis. Thus the graph above, which provides a much better representation of political views. If you want to know where you fall, you can search for "political test" and answer 10 questions and it will put you on a similar graph.

  • Classical liberal:
    -Supports free market capitalism and few government regulations.
    -Strictly stands up for freedom of speech, the press, religion, petition, and protest.
    -Often supports a minimally-interventionist foreign policy.
    -Favors low taxes on the rich, middle-class, and the poor.
    -Tends be strongly individualistic, believing in maximum social freedoms.

    Modern "liberal":
    -Despises free markets and loves lots of regulations.
    -Believes in regulating speech, press, religion, petition, and protest in order to combat "hate speech" and "violent rhetoric".
    -Loves "humanitarian" wars waged in the name of leftist causes.
    -Supports punitive taxation of the rich, high taxes on the middle-class, and little-to-no tax on the poor.
    -Believes in collectivism and thinks that "oppressed" groups should have maximum social freedoms (except when liberals think they know better).

  • Bad traits: Doesn't like others opinions, hates any faith or religion, wants to censor news channels that give any other view other than theirs, hates freedom of speech, wants to take guns away or severely restrict law abiding people from having them, wants the govt to have more power, more taxing, more spending, doesn't want states to decide issues on their own, pro-abortion, very hypocritical.

    Good traits: understands drug policy does not work and drug problems needs to be treated as a health issue, legalizing marijuana, against most war, understands the U. S. doesn't always do everything right.

    These are ones that came to mind for me personally. I'm sure there's other traits in both categories I just can't think of any now. These are not true in every case and I'm just generalizing. Some terms like 'hate' may be too strong in some circumstances but I don't want to try to give every degree of dislike. This is for American liberals, not anywhere else.

  • It's complicated these days. Thomas Jefferson was a classical liberal, who supported individual liberties strongly. Current liberals don't do that as much. They tend to favor a strong central authoritarian government, though they wouldn't likely characterize it that way.

    I think a qualifier is needed to avoid confusion.

    • you're very right about the ways "liberal" thinkers have changed when you consider that the "fore fathers" were considered very liberal but their liberalism would probably look very centrist in today's scope.

      i didn't want to qualify too much because i just wanted to know what people's front of mind response is when they think of the word

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