What is the difference between a Leftist and a Liberal?
The terms “leftist” and “liberal” are often used interchangeably to describe people who believe in the central importance of social justice, civil liberties, and equality. This is a misuse of these terms which could lead to major misunderstandings.
Left wingers believe inequality can be solved primarily by increasing taxes on the rich (capitalism) and limiting economic growth (welfare state). Liberals believe that through welfare policies they can address inequality. They want both redistribution as well as individual initiative .
Conservative right wingers, like Trump supporters for example, are what you have at opposite corners of the triangle – lower tax rates for wealthy while cutting spending on public services and safety nets.
Neoliberal center lefts are moderate liberals who would like to move towards center and away from left, they want government-regulated capitalism where the state is involved in some redistribution programs.
For example, Obama was a neoliberal center leftist; he had a plan for health care reform that was based on market rather than social control of healthcare and included individual mandate, “but his first priority was to strengthen the institutions of social control. His goal was to rationalize the healthcare system rather than to eliminate its profit-seeking character.”
The neoliberal center lefts have mostly been in power, they consider to be moderates and are often willing to sacrifice some goals that are advocated by leftists to work with conservatives for incremental change.