Kevin Williams astutely observed that much of our political differences can be traced to the different meaning we give our words. I would add that the evolution of the meanings of words over time traces our political evolution; we can avoid the restrictions of popular terms and ideas by redefining them easier than outright rejection.
Capitalism has become a bucket where everything objectionable about the economy can be collected without ever clarifying the meaning of the term. The more we restrict the function of free markets the more we blame this institution for our economic shortcoming.
I like the definition of capitalism as the competition of ideas; making it stand in sharp contrast to central economic planning where competition is avoided in the name of efficiency. Ironically this is the same justification used by the monopolists of the early 20th century.
Capitalism is simply economic freedom, and like political freedom it comes with conditions, rules, and limits. Most of our debate is centered on different opinions about what those conditions, rules and limits should be. Freedom whether it be economic or political is both an end and a means. We may compromise certain freedoms for a brief period such as an existential crisis but we understand the need to return to it; we acknowledge its imperfection in extreme circumstances but understand its essential benefits in normal times. When we lose faith or confidence or understanding of this we risk acceptance of a permanent military footing as a social necessity.
A single value is easy to justify; it is the reconciliation of positive but conflicting values that challenge us. After the Civil War and emancipation individual liberty and equality came into conflict and with the rise of Progressivism equality became the priority. With individual liberty carrying such a strong value in our political culture progressives came to define freedom as more of a collective value than an individual right. Progressives did not speak against freedom, but they did speak against the liberty applied exclusively to the individual. Excessive individualism was a common criticism of the American political culture.
Progressives reconciled this conflict by redefining freedom in both the political and economic sphere. FDR embraced the Constitution by aiming to merely extending political freedom to the economic sphere, but in doing so redefined the meaning of freedom from an individual and natural right to a group benefit.
Just as a slight difference in the angle at it origin can dramatically change the direction and distance of a trajectory, a seemingly slight change in a definition can dramatically change the the outcome from from the use of a commonly used term or idea.