(Ed. note: More stuff written long ago but never posted...)
A brief piece in the Economist last year decried the fate of a word of which that periodical is particularly fond. In Europe, it has become a slur for the right wing; in America it's an even more pejorative label for the left.
The Economist's own political viewpoint is probably best described as center-right. It couples the leftist idea that government exists for the greater good of all people (not strictly to preserve individual rights) with the right wing's abiding suspicion of centralized government power and its conviction that the way to pursue social justice is to reduce regulation and let free markets work. “There's a word for that,” the essay asserts (echoing a Bush campaign speech), “and we want it back.” The much-abused word is liberalism.
Alas, this impassioned little essay is available only to Economist online or print subscribers. If that's you, read on.