a liberal = a democrat = a communist
At the start of the Twentieth Century the term "liberal" meant the same in America as it still does in the rest of the world - essentially, what is called "conservatism" in American Newspeak. Of course we "American Conservatives" are not the ones who oppose development and liberty, so in that sense we are not conservative at all. We are, in truth, liberal.
But in America, "liberalism" was given its American Newspeak - essentially inverted - meaning in the 1920s (source: Safire's New Political Dictionary). The fact that the American socialists have acquired a word to exploit is bad enough; the real disaster is that we do not now have a word which truly descriptive of our own political perspective. We only have the smear words which the socialists have assigned to us.
And make no mistake, in America "conservative" is inherently a negative connotation - we know that just as surely as we know that every American marketer loves to boldly proclaim that whatever product he is flogging is NEW!