The vast majority of the public doesn't realize that the labels "liberal" and "conservative" don't mean what they did 30 years ago. Today, it's the "liberals" who trample over freedom, in their zeal to have an ordered society where no one smokes, no one overeats, and no one says anything which might remotely offend anyone. It's the "conservatives" who'll light your smoke for you, tell an off-color joke once in awhile, and throw barbecues featuring fat hamburgers and intoxicating cocktails.
Most of the public, which doesn't pay as much attention to these things as we do, still believes the "liberals" are the free-wheeling, fun-loving bunch, rather than the stormtroopers they are at heart. We "conservatives" need to educate them. At our next barbecue.
You are correct. Thomas Jefferson and some of the other founders may have been the creators of enlightened liberalism (in the US anyway). But the modern liberal in no way resembles that vision; conservatives do.
Good point. As another twisting of language... many of President Bush's major proposals are both progressive and liberal in the true senses of the words, not in their current meanings. It are the Democrats who have become conservative and reactionary.