The Atlantic: Opinion: Peter Beinart: Liberal is Good
Liberalism is the perfect example of why education is so important in America, because the more Americans have learned about liberalism, especially the non-political junky American, the more they’ve learned that they at least respect the liberal philosophy if not embrace it altogether and view themselves as liberals because they know they have Liberal outlooks, whether it is on issues like Equal Justice and Opportunity for All, quality education for everyone, job training for adults so they can move on to good jobs, marijuana legalization, equal rights for gays, and so on.
The best way to view where Americans are ideologically is their position on the issues instead of on how they self-describe themselves. If you look at their positions on a large variety of issues, they clearly indicate that America has become more liberal if not a liberal country altogether. This doesn’t mean Americans are suddenly in love with the welfare state and begging government to increase taxes. But that has never been what liberalism has been about anyway. Instead it is about individual rights. Liberty, Equal Justice, and Opportunity For All.
When you have conservatives or libertarians like Andrew Sullivan, of all people, saying that “liberal”is no longer a dirty word or a bad thing, you know America is moving in that direction. Liberals and progressives acknowledged in the 1970s and 1980s that America was becoming more conservative, which is how Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. That forced the Democratic Party to move away from the far left and become more of a center-left party. Republicans will have to correctly adjust as well if they want to acquire power in the future.