Growing up, we were taught that "liberals" were evil, scary people who performed abortions for fun and seduced innocent children of God into a despicable world of logical thought and godless higher learning. Once I grew up and realized that this was the biggest pile of steaming crap I'd ever experienced, even bigger than the tractor loads of literal bull shit I spread as a kid, I still didn't want to assume the label of "liberal".
Why you might ask? Because the "liberals" I knew back then, and even more so now, were fucking cowards. They liked to tout their beliefs amongst themselves but when faced with confrontation from rabid rightwingers, backed down and figuratively wet their pants. I've never been a hippie, vegetarian flower child like the midwife that brought many of my brothers and sisters into the world or a New Yorker reading, Hamptons trust child like many of the clients I've dealt with in my day job.
I am BBQ eating, whiskey drinking, gun owning, heterosexual Southern boy who never identified with the stereotypes of the San Francisco Castro District (although I admit I enjoyed my visit there) or the Hollywood elite (I'll pass on LA). So, needless to say, I never really found anything majorly in common with them, especially spending my first presidential campaign working for the Green Party. I sided with them partially out of my newfound disgust with the GOP and my distrust of the Democratic Party. Remember, I spent years around the rightwing prior to this.
As I've grown older, I've still refused to call myself a "liberal" because even though I support gay marriage, marijuana legalization, a progressive tax structure and a single payer healthcare system, I also have a few "conservative" positions. I enjoy owning and using guns, I believe in government staying the hell out of people's personal lives, and that people who take public assistance should give something back to the community in some form. Yet, most of all, I've refused to call myself a "liberal" because they had no fucking balls.
They've tried to reason with loons, signed meaningless petitions and politely carried signs asking for change. Needless to say, that doesn't jive well with my way of approaching things which involves standing up for yourself, refusing to be pushed around and denying quarter to those who would give none in return.
However, I have begun to see a small trickle, which I hope which will turn into a wave. It is a younger generation of liberals who refuse to shrink from the label and embrace it instead. They don't back down from a fight with phrases like "well, that is your opinion and you are entitled to it", then pack another bowl and turn on some Ani DiFranco on their iPods. Instead, they go on the offensive. They fight back. They aren't afraid of being politically incorrect or hurting the feelings of some random person on the internet. They've got the attitude of Henry Rollins, not The Coffee Party. They're punk rock, not washed up flower child.
Until "liberals" represent me a little better, I'll continue to shun the label, but they're making progress.