Nobody likes a liberal
One of the most confusing words in politics is "liberal". It means so many different things to different people. But the one thing all of its definitions seem to have in common is that they are unpopular. In America, "liberal" is associated with the further political left. Practically everywhere else, "liberal" retains its classic 19th-century definition, and is largely used to refer to free-market ideology and the espousal of individual rights associated with the political right. Apple OS X's dictionary has 4 definitions of "liberal". The first one is "favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms : liberal citizenship laws." The fourth one is "(of a person) giving generously : Sam was too liberal with the wine. These two definitions are the ones that politics is mostly concerned with. The best synonyms I can think of for these words are "non-coercive" (the first definition) and "generous" (the fourth definition). In Europe a "liberal" government is non-coercive, in the home and in the marketplace. In America a liberal person is deemed "generous". But not really. If you think about, an American liberal wants to be "generous" with other people's money (their taxes), and that cannot be true generosity.
The sad coincidence is that both meanings of political liberalism are unpopular in their respective homes. "Liberal" is an insult in Europe and Latin America (it's often termed "neo-liberal" in the latter). It is seen as neglecting the social good in these places. Liberal is also generally an insult in America, where the public dole is unpopular among many. In America it has the secondary definition of moral permissiveness, which is also unpopular. Oddly, the two main definitions would be quite popular if they were to just switch places. Europeans and Latin Americans who are still very much attached to their welfare state, would be proud to be called liberal, if it meant generosity with the public dole. And Americans who love freedom and individualism would quite like the classic definition of liberalism, if they would just learn to use it. I wish they would. It is more specific and accurate than "conservative" and more elegant and catchy than "libertarian".