In my fantasyland, public figures attached to progressive causes would not run away from certain adjectives just because the Republicans have been very good at saying them with a sneer. And they would especially not do so when the adjective, in fact, fits. Behold Amy Sullivan, whose mission in life is to get Democrats to talk nice to the white evangelicals (even as more and more Americans run from organized religion):
You’re pro-choice. Does that interfere with being an evangelical?
Well, I don’t like the [pro-choice] label. I guess the reason I wrote about abortion the way I did in the book is because I have serious moral concerns about abortion, but I don’t believe that it should be illegal. And that puts me in the vast majority of Americans. But unfortunately, there’s no label for us.
Actually, Amy, there is a label for you: Pro-Choice. You wouldn’t choose to have an abortion, but you don’t want to make it illegal because other women might make other choices. See how easy that was? By the way, you’ve been hanging out with Will Saletan, haven’t you?
There’s really no argument about whether it would be a good thing to reduce the abortion rate. That’s been something that’s been standard policy with the choice groups in addition to everyone else for decades. The problem is, I’ve been talking to these folks for a long, long time, and they say, “Of course we want to reduce abortion! Don’t people know that?” And I say, “No, they don’t know that. And you don’t get any credit for it if people only hear you talking about a right to choose.”….
And so the people Democrats need to speak to are those people in the middle who are kind of queasy about abortion but who don’t want to see it outlawed. Democrats never mention reducing the abortion rate or the rate of unplanned pregnancies, and so they lose that opportunity to reach out to voters who are less sure about their position on abortion.
Um, you have heard of “Safe, legal and rare,” right? Democrats aren’t exactly running around talking up abortion on demand up to the moment before birth, as some of the trolls around these parts would have it.
In other quarters, would it kill Democrats to start embracing the “liberal” label again proudly instead of running away from it? And even if you don’t want to reclaim it right now, maybe just, you know, stop trying to define it away?
But what do I know? I live in a fantasyland.