The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. —Confucius
One of the distressing things about politics in the US is the way words have either been stripped of their meaning or become so contested as to undermine the ability to communicate and analyze. It’s hard to get to a conversation when you and your interlocutors don’t have the same understanding of basic terms.And that is no accident. The muddying of meaning is a neo-Orwellian device to influence perceptions by redefining core concepts. And a major vector has been by targeting narrow interest groups on their hot-button topics. Thus, if you are an evangelical or otherwise strongly opposed to women having reproductive control, anyone who favors womens’ rights in this area is in your vein of thinking, to the left of you, hence a “liberal”. Allowing the Overton Window to be framed around pet interests, as opposed to a view of what societal norms are, has allowed for the media to depict the center of the political spectrum as being well to the right of where it actually is as measured by decades of polling, particularly on economic issues.Another way of limiting discourse is to relegate certain terms or ideas to what Daniel Hallin called the “sphere of deviance.” Thus, until roughly two years ago, calling an idea “Marxist” in the US was tantamount to deeming it to be the political equivalent of taboo. That shows how powerful the long shadow of the Communist purges of the McCarthy era were, more than a generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.