What's wrong with "liberal"?

I've had it up to my mama eyeballs with the use of the "word" liberal in the McCain ads ("Obama and his liberal allies ..." "one of the most liberal voting records in Congres ...") as if accusing someone of being a "liberal" is enough to make people run in terror. It's pissing mama off.

Tell me what a person has done wrong, but don't expect me to get my panties in a wad just because they're a liberal. Time was, being liberal was looked upon as a good thing, a show of a refined, kind and generous character. I recently re-read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (gah! what a great book!) and she frequently uses the word "liberal" as a word of praise to distinguish a particular character as being especially kind and thoughtful. Here's what dictionary.com has to say about liberal. It about sums it up. Liberal is not a bad thing. Trying to make people feel ashamed for reaching out to their neighbors, believing we can work together for a better future, daring to suggest that everyone should have access to a great education and decent, across-the-board healthcare - now that's a bad thing.

lib·er·al /ˈlɪbərəl, ˈlɪbrəl/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[lib-er-uhl, lib-ruhl] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–adjective 1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
2. (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8. open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10. given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11. not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13. of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.
–noun 14. a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion.
15. (often initial capital letter) a member of a liberal party in politics, esp. of the Liberal party in Great Britain.


[Origin: 1325–75; ME < L līberālis of freedom, befitting the free, equiv. to līber free + -ālis -al1]

—Related forms
lib·er·al·ly, adverb
lib·er·al·ness, noun

—Synonyms 1. progressive. 7. broad-minded, unprejudiced. 9. beneficent, charitable, openhanded, munificent, unstinting, lavish. See generous. 10. See ample.
—Antonyms 1. reactionary. 8. intolerant. 9, 10. niggardly.

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