This is my personal usage:
Classical Liberal – “Classical Liberal” – the state should step out of the way of society. Essentially: laissez-faire, separation of church and state.
General “Millsian” Liberal – “traditional liberal” – Society should be “open”, with free expression and speech. Disputes should be settled via prearranged, open, non-violent means. People should trust each others’ commitment to liberalism as a prerequisite.
American “Democratic Party Voter” Liberal – “Left-liberal” – America’s basically a democracy right, with good values? Let’s trust the expansive bureaucratic state which certainly must reflect our liberal values in its character as well as in the outcomes it produces. I mean, how do we trust the bureaucracy? They’re not after profits, and profit seeking is what causes us to not get along. Being “open” means accepting the needs of others as being as paramount as our own. Freedom only exists when its balanced since our needs and desires are constraints on each others’ freedom. Good thing we have a big bureaucracy which cares fundamentally about our welfare, to guarantee our American freedom.
Liberals want safe streets through gun control – “left-liberals,” that is.
Liberals want the freedom to say hateful things to be preserved – “traditional liberals,” that is.
Liberals want fewer regulations – “Classical Liberals,” that is (although, this usage would go beyond the historical “Classical Liberals” if we were in Europe).
I published my take on Henry Kissinger, who died this week at age 100, in 2014, when presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was courting his support. Read it here.