Moriji has a good post titled Taking Our Country Back dealing with the way that conservatives have hijacked the term liberal, making it into a term of abuse.
"To be American is to be free. Every American should be entitled to a life free of discrimination. Every American should be free to decide whom they should marry and whether to have children. Every American should be free to express their views without being intimidated. And every American should be free to participate in our great democracy.
Which begs the question: what in the world does conservatism have to do with freedom? Despite all this talk about “defending our freedom,” don’t conservatives really want to restrain it? After all, they are the party opposed to progress. They are the ones who represent the forces of retreat. If they had their way, America would still be caught in a 1950s style “conservative paradise” where crimes are kept hidden inside the home and apartheid is used to instill hatred towards those with darker skin."
It seems to me that conservatism, like all movements seeking a utopia in the past, encounter some real problems when their ideology rams into the hard wall of historical facts. Christist right-wingers constantly harp on returning the country to its "Christian roots," back to the golden values of yesteryear. What in the hell are they talking about? Do they want a return to slavery, to an era when local government administrators offered a couple dollars for an Indian scalp? To a period when people were burnt on the stake for having an epileptic fit? Who knows? Maybe in their heart of hearts, this is the world they covet.