We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
In arguing that "labels don't apply anymore," Obama is making the same claim, nearly verbatim, that Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and other Democrats have made over the years, stretching back over a generation. What these candidates found out the hard way was that labels mean plenty, especially when they refer to something that people understand--like liberalism.
Americans learned over several decades what liberalism, at least modern liberalism, was all about. Contrary to some claims that conservatives, in a sinister plot, defamed the word, liberalism did a pretty good job defaming itself: from the anything-goes ethos of the 1960s to radical war protestors, from tax-and-spend government and welfare policies to lax criminal justice, pacifism abroad, and a wide-ranging contempt for the institutions and values of American life, liberals took what had been the dominant political current in American politics and made it into a pejorative term. Today, while centrist American voters may blanch at some of the Republican Party's positions, they have no wish to go back to governmental progressivism.
If they did, Obama-never one to miss a rhetorical trick--would be resurrecting the word "liberal" as change we can believe in.
I contend that as the left has hijacked the liberal label so too has the right hijacked the conservative label.
From Russell Kirk's Ten Principles:
Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata.
Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.
The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.
Unfortunately, many of the vocal persons on the right have seized upon contemporary issues and asserted that their views on these issues are litmus tests for being a "TRUE CONSERVATIVE".
Similarly the aspersions RINO and DINO are abominations. If a person is elected to an office with the assent and support of a political party then they are indeed one of them. To assert that they are not authentic is puerile, ad hominem and show an intellectual shallowness that is frankly disgusting.