I beg to differ. Name-calling works very well! That's how the right wins. The problem is that their name-calling sticks, but the Right is able to deflect our attacks.
Conservatives say the Left is anti-family and anti-God. They say we "feed at the trough." They have all their talking points and pat arguments. "Government is the problem, not the solution." "Government is inefficient and corrupt." (Yeah, and conservatives do their darndest to make it that way.) "There isn't a revenue problem; there's a spending problem." They say Democrats are "anti-liberty." They exploit anti-gay and anti-immigrant bigotry. They exploit fear. They exploit religious fanaticism. They exploit patriotism. They exploit peoples' anger and direct it at government and unions -- the only forces that could possibly save the people from unconstrained capitalism.
Republicans ridiculed Gore for having pretended to invent the Internet (though he never made that claim). They called Kerry a "waffler." They painted Kucinich as an extremist. They tore down screamer Howard Dean.
Conservatives call Obama a "socialist." (lol) They call progressives extremists. Heck, even Obama (no liberal) more or less calls progressives extremists.
In fact, in his article Rob engages in name calling: "We are seeing the vile eruption of a virulent right wing, long fulminating pustule of hate, misogyny, and corporate, fascist extremism."
Names alone won't work, but they're necessary and useful.
The problem is: how can we make names stick?
We need names, as well as talking points and slogans. But we need to back them up with facts and images and videos and songs and repetition and narrative. We need a viable progressive media. We need to direct peoples' anger towards the real villains.
Unfortunately, the real villains have infiltrated the Democratic Party as well. The Democratic leadership seems more interested in protecting the torturers and war criminals than in effecting real change in government.
Right wing populists (the Tea Party) get some things right. They're aware of the immorality of militarism, and they oppose corrupt corporate control over the government. But they're libertarian: they want to destroy government agencies and services that are the most effective counter-weights against corporations, Wall Street, and ignorance. Tea Partiers' opposition to taxation will further enrich the super-rich and harm the general welfare.
Just as the Democrats betrayed and co-opted populist progressives, the GOP will betray and co-opt populist Tea Partiers. But they'll throw them enough scraps to keep their support -- just as they granted enough scraps to religious conservatives to keep their support. The crumbs that the Democrats throw progressives leave us starving for nourishment.