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Blue Dog Democrats

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Blue Dog Democrats or Conservative 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 7 seats.[1] Conservative Democrats in the 21st century tend to be more centrist based on fiscal-conservative (center-right) and social-moderate/liberal (center to center-left) than hardline conservatives (right-wing) at the Republican level.

They came into prominence in the 1970s, with "small government" Jimmy Carter being nominated for president in 1976 after noted progressive George McGovernWikipedia lost spectacularly to Richard Nixon in 1972. 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 (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[edit]

Nowadays, the centrist wing of the party has two factions: the socially moderate Blue Dogs and the New Democrats. Blue Dogs often vote with Republicans on 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 was 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.

However, there aren't that many Blue Dogs left to flip. They have 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 (no, not those Castro brothers) and Gillibrand has moved decidedly left since becoming a senator for NY. Kyrsten Sinema was also associated with the Blue Dogs, but she switched to being an independent. Another nail in their coffin came in 2023, where not only did several Blue Dogs lose their seats in the 2022 midterm elections, but the remaining members split in two after a dispute over their name, as "Blue Dog" is heavily associated with the Dixiecrat era of the party, with six former Blue Dogs splitting to the "Common Sense Coalition". This left the Blue Dog coalition with only 7 members, their lowest of all time.[2]

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 (that is, you've gotta be moderate on all issues if you want broad appeal to voters).

See also[edit]


  1. in the 118th Congress
  2. Rebranding rift guts Blue Dog Dem ranks, Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris, Politico 24 January 2023