Walter Hinteler wrote:
Thanks - but why are then the 'Democrats' called "liberal"?
Conceptually, the Democratic Party claims to stand for the rights of the "common man". The party claims a history of supporting laborers and immigrants (who were generally relegated to labourous jobs). The claim - at least in the last centrury, it didn't start out this way - has always been that they have been upholding the rights of these individuals (in the classical liberal sense) by using the power of government to "equealize" the playing field between the common man and the "elitists" (you'll note the similarity to Marx there.
If you study the party history it's an interesting trip. The party that was founded to stand up against the Federalists ended up consolidating a lot of power at the Federal level and then used that power in different welfare-ish programs to attempt to level the paying field between classes. In effect they became what they originally organzied to fight against.
"Liberal" doesn't necessarily equeal "Democrat" though. IMO, the two were joined together for good with the rise of John F. Kennedy. Kennedy, a Democrat, also accepted the endorsement of the NY "Liberal Party" in his 1960 campaign and in doing so he made the following comment in a speech. The opening line of the speech was "Why I'm a Liberal" and in it he said:
"Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies."
With that, IMO, he sealed the tie of the Democratic Party with the "liberal" moniker.