Dept. of Pyrrhic Victories

Obviously, the political undesirability/demonization of the term "liberal," and the left-wing adoption of the term "progressive" instead, has been an epiphenomenon of a larger conservative ascendancy in American life, and as such it isn't something right-wingers can really complain about. Still, I don't think conservatives should consider it a great victory that the modern Democratic Party's leading candidate wants to associate herself with a political tradition that, insofar as it's philosophically distinct from liberalism (and obviously there are many historical complexities involved here), is from the conservative perspective more dangerously utopian as well. I take Matt's point that "Progressive" is basically just a useful umbrella term for a left-of-center coalition. On the other hand, I'm not so sure that it's a coincidence that the revival of progressivism as a political label has coincided with a more strident secularism/atheism, a greater obsession with the supposed right-wing threat to "science" (read: left-wing policy preferences on stem cell research, cloning, genetic engineering, etc.), and a greater sympathy for Darwinism-as-a-universal-theory among thinkers associated with the political left. In one sense, as I've argued elsewhere, conservatives should welcome the relabeling of liberalism as a blow for linguistic precision; at the same time, I think it's at least partially the reflection of trends within the left that conservatives should regard with suspicion, if not outright hostility.