“LIBERAL BLOGGERS”: Let me toss a theory at you. I’m still in list mode, so there’ll be a list at the end of this. But my theory is that political labels seem to refer more to social affiliation than to actual policy/philosophical beliefs. (“Libertarian” is an exception to this rule, most of the time.) People call themselves “liberal” because they feel more comfortable with reluctant Gore voters than with reluctant Bush voters. People call themselves “conservative” because when they imagine voting for Gore, they feel the need to shower. I don’t endorse this behavior–it drains words of meaning, confuses debate, and leads people to think that the Democrats (or GOP) are better representatives of their beliefs when in fact that’s not true. But I think it happens a lot.

Questions: Have other people noticed this? Am I totally off base here? Is the term “conservative” used more coherently than “liberal”? Does abortion change everything? (i.e. it’s an actual policy/philosophical stance that leads people to call themselves “liberals,” unless they are Nat Hentoff.)

And now the list. For the lib-blog-crew. You may not be a liberal anymore if…

* You think free trade is fair trade.

* You cheer for Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld.

* You think “caring about the poor” means welfare reform, school vouchers, and volunteering at your local homeless shelter.

* You think the West is just better.

* You think unions screw the working man.

* You find yourself saying stuff like, “I didn’t change–the liberals changed!”

* Your ideal presidential candidate is Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, or James Lileks.

There’s a name for people like you: moderate conservatives.

Am I wrong?

About Eve Tushnet