Liberals are not liberal at all. Liberal means being open to, and tolerant of, other opinions and views. Classical Liberalism as a political philosophy means limited government and the utmost individual liberty so long as one does not infringe upon another's rights. Limited government equates to maximum liberty and therefore maximum choice as to what one wishes to pursue with their own life. The Democrat party and the left wing are not "liberal" in either sense of the word.
Why, then do Democrats refer to themselves as being "liberal"? Very simple; they cannot call themselves what they truly are: statists, socialists, Marxists, and (at times) Communists. Some have even determined that the current administration is fascist. None of those labels are attractive in America. How do they justify calling themselves "liberal"? Also very simple; they rationalize that it is "liberal" (compassionate and generous) to use the government to excessively tax some, and redistribute resources to others. When their programs fail, as they usually do, they claim that we must have a "safety net", as if one does not already exist. The safety net(s) must always be bigger and more expansive in their opinions. Most of their policies are contingent upon a "zero-sum fallacy", and that they must take from some in order to help others. This is not "liberal" at all, and merely equates to being economically ignorant and outright foolish.