Is it too late? Can any candidate who identifies as "liberal" escape from the negative connotation tied to this word? In America, we've been trained to associate liberalism with the Democratic party, and we all know how well the Democratic party did in the last election.
Since then, many liberals have sought to distance themselves from the Democratic party. There's the sense that Dems co-opted the term liberal to serve their own power and enrichment. That may not be completely true, but if there's a shred of truth to it, liberals are still up a creek by association with the Dems who lost so embarrassingly in '16.
Let's revisit the term liberalism :
-- Liberals reject power politics: International relations aren't about competing with other nations for power and resources -- nor are domestic relations.
-- Liberals believe that nations should keep each other in check: That is, the U.S. shouldn't break international laws or statutes because it's in our best interest, and U.S. leaders are subject to governance from other democratic nations.
-- Liberals believe all humans are bound together by basic ethical codes, regardless of nation and state lines.
-- Liberals believe you can measure a nation's power by how successful a nation is at helping its citizens succeed: If NATO, or other international agreements, haven't helped American citizens succeed, we should change them.
-- Liberals believe that non-governmental organizations can be just as successful as governments.
-- Liberals believe that institutions should benefit states -- not the other way around.
In any of the above statements, is there a hint of the amoral, anything goes, identity politics stereotype that conservatives use to lambast liberals? No. Liberals do believe in the rights of the individual, but they also believe states should enable individuals to achieve success.
Clearly, Republicans won the last election not just because of gerrymandering -- which did play a big role -- but also because many citizens didn't believe liberal Democrats have enabled them to succeed.
When Trump beat Hillary, it wasn't because anyone actually thought Trump was going to be a good president. It was because they thought Hillary and the rest of the DNC lackeys were throwing up a false front under the guise of liberalism. Beneath that front, many people believed -- and still believe -- that liberal Democrats are rigging the system against them. In other words, they don't believe that Hillary and the rest are actually liberals.
That's because if Democrats are actually liberals, they would fight with all their strength to ensure the success of all citizens, no matter how tough that battle is because of competing voices. There are always going to be competing voices. A good government's job is to square all the noise, work towards compromise, and bring the rights of all citizens full circle.
Back to the economic factor -- I can't understate the issue at hand: Democrats masquerading as liberals will not win elections if they don't understand the fact that most voters are still capitalists who want to have a chance at economic success. The original form of liberalism did not deny this.
Modern-day liberals might rail on something like Trump's solar tariff, but it actually hasn't hurt the industry. Other tariffs -- such as soybean tariffs -- could be harmful to the economy, but there are cases in which tariffs can be helpful. For a burgeoning industry like solar, in which tax incentives are continuing to drive investment from businesses, it helps to encourage American companies to do manufacturing work in America. If these companies do thrive by manufacturing here in America, it can help liberal causes.