"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 whose democratic beliefs lean decidedly right making them a conservative democrat. From at least as far back as the 1990s, this sect of Democrats has become increasingly more prominent. Understanding their beliefs can help foster an appreciation for their unique political position.
What is a Conservative Democrat?
A conservative democrat holds far more conservative views in relation to those more prominent members of the party. This radical departure from centrist ideology traces back to 1944 when 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 Democrat movement renewed itself 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 as Democratic beliefs are in flux.
Right Leaning Social Views
A conservative Democrat takes 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, which is among the commonly held Democratic beliefs. 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.
Conservative Economic Stance
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. They oppose liberal spending. 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.
Hawkish on International Policy
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 armed presence on the world stage but they believe that Congress should approve any military action against foreign entities. When it comes to immigration, they share conservative views on stopping illegal immigration, but they do not advocate the forced removal or deportation of illegals who are already in the country.
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