First let’s look at it’s origin according to Webster’s:
Origin of LIBERAL
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English lēodan to grow, Greek eleutheros free
It may be time we start asking the real questions which seems so basic. If the word liberal originated as being free, a freeman, then those who have used it in other ways is basically deceiving us all, right?
As we can see the definition itself has been rewritten from meaning free to mean something more in the lines of liberal with other people’s money and liberty.
Universal etymological English dictionary by Nathan Bailey (1756) Liberal definition (opens in new window). As we can see the word actually is more in line with being generous, bountiful and free. Simply put, the only way the modern definition works is being generous with other peoples money, it has nothing to do with regulations upon people and business.
Now is where the average person has to wonder what is going on. According to Webster’s:
6a: of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism
b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism;
Today’s Websters Full Definition of liberalism just might be a bit confusing to the average person.
1a: a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity
b: economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard
c: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class)
So I would ask, are you against these things while claiming you are against socialism of fascism?
Next we need to understand the origins of liberalism
Taken from the first two paragraphs of:
What Is Classical Liberalism? by John C. Goodman
Prior to the 20th century, classical liberalism was the dominant political philosophy in the United States. It was the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson and the signers of the Declaration of Independence and it permeates the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and many other documents produced by the people who created the American system of government. Many of the emancipationists who opposed slavery were essentially classical liberals, as were the suffragettes, who fought for equal rights for women.
Basically, classical liberalism is the belief in liberty. Even today, one of the clearest statements of this philosophy is found in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. At that time, as is the case today, most people believed that rights came from government. People thought they only had such rights as government elected to give them. But following the British philosopher John Locke, Jefferson argued that it’s the other way around. People have rights apart from government, as part of their nature. Further, people can form governments and dissolve them. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect these rights.
So now we ask, who and what is really a liberal?
If government is to protect our rights, then what are we doing when we go to government asking them to remove a right?
Are or can those who want less government liberals?
Were those who wanted to end the Gold Standard liberals?
Are you for or against intellectual liberty liberals?
How well has government done at most everything it has done and at what cost to us in tax dollars and liberty. So the final question using the modern definition you really need to think about; do you considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities, such as religious freedom, race, gender, class or even morality?
Do you feel the modern definition really fits anything relevant as to how it is used today? Then why are we using it, only to confuse ourselves or have we been deceived which is turn we have been confused?
So now we need to ask ourselves what is a conservative?