Blue Dog Democrats
|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
Blue Dog Democrats is a coalition of United States Congressional Representatives who are members of the Democratic Party. They were the Southern Democrats who stayed loyal to the party after the parties flipped. It currently has 26 seats. Blue Dogs are noted for promoting fiscal conservatism (balanced budgets, tax reductions, decreased spending, smaller government) while being otherwise socially liberal.
They came into prominence in the 1970s, with "small government" Jimmy Carter being nominated after noted social liberal George McGovern lost spectacularly to Richard Nixon. Nowadays, Carter is remembered as a die-hard liberal in comparison to the rest of his party, similar to how Nixon, Southern Strategy or not, largely ran as a moderate while in office (ala passing the EPA and OSHA Act).
Blue Dogs gained national fame, as it were, in the 1980s, when they used be known as "Reagan Democrats," having voted for - and with - the man during his presidency—to the nation's eventual dismay, as Reagan would push a fiscally irresponsible agenda known as Reaganomics. They went along with Supply-side economics, supported hawkish stances against the Soviet Union, and cut social benefits alongside the Republican, but they still supported New Deal-esque policies enough not to target Social Security and Medicare, and tried to pass an amendment to the Constitution that guaranteed equal rights to male and female citizens in the 90s.
 Modern usage
Nowadays, the centrist wing of the party has two factions: the socially conservative Blue Dogs and the neoliberal New Democrats. Blue Dogs often vote with Republicans on climate change, gun control, the War on Drugs, gay marriage for the longest time, and even violent video games at one point. New Democrats differentiate themselves through their more socially liberal and left-sounding rhetoric but often adhere to fiscal conservatism that champions free trade, privatization, deregulation, and reduced government spending.
Since Reagan's election, the vast majority of the Democratic Party, reeling from so many Republican victories in the White House, switched to the right in an attempt to compete with the conservative vote; largely leaving the left to dry. President Barack Obama, who outright said Nixon is to his left on many issues, has largely done the same. To his credit, Obama is far more socially liberal than Clinton, putting him squarely on the New Democrat side of issues. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's first Chief of Staff, is a better example of a Blue Dog: many of the center-right positions or policies taken by the Obama administration can be traced back to Rahm.
However, there aren't that many blue-dogs left to flip. They've been wiped out since 2010 as inmates have taken over the asylum within Congress. They were never popular, but it was a sad sight to see Blue Dogs replaced with the far-right Republicans; the country has not been the same since, and in a way, Mary Landrieu was the last major Blue Dog left. (The closest you'd get to it are people like Kirsten Gillibrand and Joaquin Castro, but Joaquin's the less-popular Castro brother and Gillibrand moved to the left as Senator.)
Regardless of the decade or era, one thing is constant: Blue Dogs are more likely to follow Republican lines of thought when it comes to fiscal policy and foreign affairs, and they tend to side with corporate interests in nearly all other matters as well. Any similarity ends there, as Blue Dogs remain not quite as socially conservative as modern Republicans, although they prefer not to rock the boat and adhere very closely to the Cult of Centrism (i.e. you gotta be moderate on all issues if you want broad appeal to voters). They tend to be the first to recommend reductions in the largest cash gluttons, namely military spending and oil tax subsidies, but they don't rock the boat on climate change all that often.