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Opinion: The new liberal, or part 3,284,582 in an ongoing series on our nonsensical politics


Don’t worry, this isn’t about Weinergate. I ran across a blogger I used to read back during the 2008 election. I knew her to be a Democrat, and judging from her tweets, she still is. What seemed odd, is in her profile, she now describes herself as a “fiscal conservative.” How could that be? The more I thought about it, the more I could see her point. Our political labels are about to change again. The conservative Democrats are back, and they’re changing the meaning of fiscal conservative.

Just to confirm my hunch, I checked an online dictionary, and sure enough, my suspicions were correct. Fiscal has two meanings and conservative has three. We can pick one each to make the case for a fiscally conservative Democrat.

Fiscal: of or pertaining to the public treasury

Conservative: disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., to limit change.

By these definitions, any cursory glance at a newspaper will show the Democrats being fiscally conservative. So what are Republicans to do, now that one of our most cherished terms has been flipped on its head? For the most part, nothing. A healthy percentage of Republicans are fiscal conservatives too. It’s us band of rambunctious outliers that will be needing a new word.

Would you like to see an end to the Fed, a balanced budget, policies that promote Main St. rather than Wall St., a gold standard, troops stationed in something less than 130 countries, and/or welfare that only helps those in need? If so, you’re not being fiscally conservative. Now that liberals have become progressives, I have to wonder if the TEA party patriots, or Ron Paul followers are about to become the new liberals.

There is some precedence for this found in classical liberalism. However, identifying as a classical liberal has its own problem.

I met a guy once at a meeting of Republicans who described himself as a classical liberal. He went on to explain in great detail that he was liberal in the sense that Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and Thomas Jefferson were liberals. I thought I could detect a secondary definition.

Classical Liberal: Someone who has read more books than you ever will, and who prides himself on the depths of his own philosophical ruminations

Claiming to be a classical liberal is the social equivalent of the Gadsden Flag. Later at that same meeting, I spotted the guy standing off to the side, by himself.

In the halcyon days of my youth, there used to be liberal Republicans. Back then, the Viet Nam War decided everything. It wouldn’t mean the same thing now as it did then. Today, the old liberal Republicans have a new name; RINO’s. Politics is about making up names as you go along.

So, it looks like the word liberal is up for grabs, again. Can a liberal Republican now be someone who wants a federal government that promotes a Main St. economy, a non-offensive defense, and is socially ambivalent? Can conservative Democrats rally ’round a sinking dollar that is already 96 percent sunk? Yes, we can. Like an empty nest parent, my little liberal is coming home.