I remember the first time I was called an ideologue. I got from the context that it was meant in a derogatory way, but my sense of the word had a positive connotation. I went home and looked up the definition to make sure I hadn't absorbed the word's meaning incorrectly. I hadn't. I was left contemplating in what sort of mind or context would "ideologue" would be a pejorative term.
That was many years ago and I've only seen "ideologue" become more pejorative in common usage.
What concerns me with this trend is that it maligns a whole category of human motivation. All actions are motivated by SOMETHING. If we malign all actions motivated by a firm belief in a set of ideas, then what motivations are we venerating?
Expediency and pragmatism is an answer I hear bandied about most often. But these are METHODS not MOTIVATIONS. Expediency and pragmatism motivated by what?
If not motivated by ideas, what are such non-ideologues motivated by?
How are particular course of action makes them feel at any moment? How it is perceived by others? How those others make them feel?
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Great people talk about ideas. Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people."
It seems to me that this idea expands naturally into: Great people concern themselves with ideas; average people with things; small people with other people.
We're at place where we are more suspect of people motivated by ideas than of people motivated by how they feel and what other people think about them. A shame. I took back the term "ideologue" a long time ago. It's an honor to achieve such a label.