"Conservative" and "Democrat" are two words you might not expect to find side-by-side. After all, Democrats are typically perceived as the liberal political party. Nonetheless, conservative Democrats do exist. They are members of the Democratic Party who hold more conservative political views in relation to those more prominent members of the party. From at least the 1990s, this sect of Democrats has become increasingly more prominent. Understanding their beliefs can help foster an appreciation for their unique political position.
The Blue Dog Coalition
In 1994, Republicans saw huge victories at the polls. As a response to the public's seeming shift to conservative ideals, moderate and conservative Democrats within the House of Representatives formed a coalition known as the Blue Dog Democrats. A popular phrase among this group was that the Democratic party had moved so far left that it had "choked them blue." Eventually, the Blue Dog label waned in popularity but the conservative Democrats renewed themselves in the 2006 midterm elections when the main Democratic Party put moderate and conservative candidates up against Republicans. The Blue Dog Coalition later lost half their members in 2010 but the sect's popularity among on-the-fence voters continues today.
Conservative Democrats are often seen to take a middle-of-the-road approach to social issues such as marriage, abortion and family matters. For example, many of them have been slow to adopt the Democratic Party's support for same-sex marriage and have instead advocated for federal language to define marriage as between one man and one woman. They may, however, support domestic partnerships or civil unions. On abortion, conservative Democrats do not normally advocate for an overturn of Roe v. Wade but they often only support abortion when the life of the child and/or mother are in danger.
Economics and Taxes
Conservative Democrats tend to favor tax breaks for the working classes, not for the wealthy. Along with this push for tax breaks, conservative Democrats simultaneously advocate for strict control of the federal government budget. To compensate for this, they believe that wealthy citizens should pay a fair share of taxes and that more opportunities need to be created for working class people, so they can contribute to the economy.
The majority of conservative Democrats were opposed to the War on Terrorism, just as their more liberal counterparts. However, conservative Democrats generally have a mixed-interventionist policy when it comes to international affairs. Conservative Democrats want the United States to have a strong presence on the world stage but they believe that Congress should approve any military action against foreign entities. When it comes to immigration, conservative Democrats are opposed to illegal immigration, but they do not advocate the forced removal or deportation of illegals that are already in the country.
- Los Angeles Times: A Right Kind of Democrat
- The Blue Dogs of the Democratic Party: The Republican Party is Over
- BuzzFeed Politics: Conservative Democrats Take Joint Plunge On Gay Marriage
- The Western Center for Journalism: Iowa Democrats Pray To “the Lord” For More Abortion Access
- MediaITE: Dear Conservatives: Democrats Are Not Scared Of Rand, But They’re Terrified Of Christie
- Conservative Traditions in U.S. Foreign Policy
- Wall Street Journal: Some Democrats Waver on Immigration
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