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Fossilized remains of a DINO.
A guide to
U.S. Politics
Icon politics USA.svg
Hail to the Chief?
Persons of interest
For the Republican equivalent, see RINO.

DINO is an acronym meaning "Democrat in Name Only." It refers to the New Democrat Coalition, Blue Dogs and similar Democrats who are more concerned about increasing party influence than standing by the party platform. They often, but not always, are trying to compete in more conservative states by leaning to the right.

Former Georgia Senator Zell Miller is a great example of a DINO. He delivered the keynote address of the 2004 Republican convention where he slandered John Kerry and challenged Chris Matthews to a duel. It is most likely that Miller is a Democrat because of the Civil War. Another good example is David Clarke, who is as far to the right as they come and literally ran as a Democrat only to get votes.

Accusations are sometimes made by the party faithful for good reason; they are also made to dissociate the accuser from rhetorical responsibility when it is convenient.

The House of Representatives, at least, is now "perfectly sorted," meaning that the most conservative Democrat is still more liberal than the most liberal Republican, according to all satisfactory measures of such things[1]. This rather screams that there are no DINOs in the House. Now the senate on the other hand...

Democrats accused of being DINOs[edit]

  • Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, tended to vote to the right on gun control and other issues.
  • Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who won in an upset landslide after the Republican nominee couldn't keep his mouth shut about his extreme views on rape and pregnancy. A member of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House, his voting record is to the left on labor unions, gun control, minimum wage, corporate regulation-related issues, and gay rights and to the right on taxation, defense, abortion, and immigration. Would get destroyed in his re-election campaign by trying to cater exclusively to Indiana Republican voters by telling them he voted for Trump often, when he didn't vote for him enough to their standards.
  • Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota votes to the right on issues like energy, gun control, and drug policy. The voters in North Dakota still considered her to be too liberal to win re-election.
  • Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, who said himself to expect him to not always vote with Senate Democrats. Liberals still turned out to vote for him in droves, if for no other reason than the fact that his opponent was a complete monster.
  • Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, like Ben Nelson, also only voted for the health care law after her state received earmarks. She supports drilling in the Arctic, tax cuts, and repealing the estate tax. Her final act as Senator was to push for the Keystone XL pipeline, which she voted for... and got kicked out in the midterm elections by the people of Louisiana.
  • Senator Joe Lieberman may be progressive on many domestic policy issues, but he was one of the most outspoken chickenhawks in Congress, even more so than many Republicans. When he was first elected to the Senate in 1988, he was elected with the endorsement of the Moral Majority and National Rifle Association, running to the right of incumbent Republican (and quintessential RINO) Lowell Weicker. He went as far as endorsing John McCain in 2008 for these reasons, and got significant backlash from his party. Technically, he has been an independent since 2006, but he caucuses with the Democrats on most issues. Hates violent video games and joined Sam Brownback, Hillary Clinton, and Rick Santorum in crafting a Senate resolution condemning Grand Theft Auto after the "hot coffee" moral panic.
  • Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is arguably the most conservative Democrat in the Senate following Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman's retirements in 2012. Like the former, he mostly votes with his party, but votes to the right on gay marriage and gun control, and is better known for his television ads shooting — literally — at a copy of the cap and trade bill and his role in "Democrats for [Republican candidate for governor Cecil] Underwood." In the 2016 elections, Manchin actually said that if the Senate was tied at 50-50 apiece, he would switch to the Republican Party, basically saying "Please give me more right wing money!" as loud as he can. He's gained infamy for voting for Jeff Sessions,[2] Steve Mnuchin,[3] Brett Kavanaugh, and other Trump appointees to the Cabinet when the majority (or indeed, the entirety of his party in the Senate) voted against them. Manchin has even floated the idea of supporting Trump’s 2020 re-election bid, which would be quite surprising for a sitting Democratic official who isn’t Joe Manchin.
  • Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, chickenhawk, flip flopping on tax reform, described Bernie Sanders as being "too liberal" and "extreme" to be president.[4] Won a second term because her opponent was this jackass, but lost her bid for a third.
  • Senator Ben Nelson, though representing a fairly conservative state, remains infamous for only voting for the Affordable Care Act after earmarks were secured for his state.
  • Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, opposed to gay marriage like Landrieu and Manchin.
  • Representative Loretta Sanchez of California has voted in favor of deregulated for-profit colleges and against lawsuits against gun manufacturers for violence but did vote against the Iraq War and PATRIOT Act.
  • Senator "Dingy"[5] Harry Reid, once the favorite target of comedian Rush Limbaugh and former Senate Democrat leader. He was fairly moderate to liberal leaning depending on the time period of his career. He is strongly pro-death penalty as well as a serial flip flopper on abortion, the PATRIOT Act, gun control and gay marriage to the very end.
  • Senator Chuck "Death to America" Schumer was endorsed by Harry Reid to be his successor as leader of the Democrats in the Senate. Schumer voted for the Iraq War, supported John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN (who wanted war with Iran), and lately, made common cause with hardliners in Iran chanting "Death to America" by opposing the Iran Deal because of the pro-Israel lobby called AIPAC.[6] A major proponent of the Affordable Care Act, Schumer later said passing it was a mistake.[7] He also blocked a provision that would've closed tax loopholes to hedge fund managers. He also voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, voted against the Vitter Amendment (which prohibited the confiscation of legally owned firearms during a disaster), and sponsored the PROTECT IP Act (which tried to restrict access to web sites judged to be infringing copyrights). Even Wall Street, pro-establishment Blue Dog Democrats, who look at Schumer's brazen opposition to President Obama and support for Benjamin Netanyahu, find it harder and harder to continue supporting Schumer as Reid's successor. Regardless, his successor he has become, being elected Senate Minority Leader in 2016.[8]
  • Senator Richard Shelby, Senator from Alabama who is now a Republican, but started out as a Democrat and only changed when it was safe.
  • Senator Mark Warner, Senator from Virginia who voted Rex Tillerson, Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, and Ben Carson into Trump's cabinet. He also feverishly supports illegal NSA mass surveillance of American citizens, lowering the corporate tax rate, and is an advocate for "reforming" (read: gutting) Social Security.
  • Congressman Charlie Stenholm of Texas, 1978 - 2005. Legendary for his "tractor-seat commonsense" on Agricultural issues,[9] was considered not just the most conservative Texas 'yellow dog'Wikipedia, but one, if not the most conservative member of the House. Voted against the Americans with Disabilities Act which Papa Bush proposed and signed. Opposed abortion and gun control. A staunch Republican ally, Stenholm was finally swept out of office when Tom DeLay gerrymandered districts to suit Republicans after declining numerous opportunities to switch parties.
  • Congressman Ralph Hall of Texas, 1981 - 2015. Once a self described "old-time conservative Democrat" who had an obligation to "pull my party back toward the middle.". Hall was one of the co-founders of the Blue Dog Coalition and could even rival Stenholm for the title of most conservative Democrat. He hated the Clintons and voted for his longtime friend Dubya in 2000, voted against NAFTA, against abortion, supported gun rights, and in favor of tax cuts. Hall was the only Democrat not targeted by the same redistricting that swept away Stenholm and others. In 2004, after being refused money for his district by Republicans, Hall finally switched parties and went on to become one of the oldest members of the House until losing in a 2014 primary.
  • Congressman Conor Lamb was accused of being one by the GOP in an attempt to explain how they lost in a deep-red district.[10]
  • Former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, who in the Senate wrote the infamous Crime Bill. He also voted for NAFTA, DOMA, the 1996 mass welfare cuts, the Glass-Steagall repeal, the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, the REAL ID Act, the Secure Fence Act and the Wall Street bailout. In his early Senate career, he teamed up with several white supremacist Senators to end school integration via busing. He also opposes single-payer healthcare, has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been iffy on net neutrality, and supported the Hyde Amendment up until 2019.
  • Representative Dan Lipinski, who opposes abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. He also voted for multiple reauthorizations of the Patriot Act, and did not support the DREAM Act until 2018.

See also[edit]