In American politics, a conservative Democrat is a Democratic Party member with conservative political views, or with views relatively conservative with respect to those of the national party. While such members of the Democratic Party can be found throughout the nation, actual elected officials are disproportionately found within the Southern states, and to a lesser extent within rural regions of the several states generally, more commonly in the West.
21st century conservative Democrats are similar to liberal Republican counterparts, in that both became political minorities after their respective political parties underwent a major political realignment which began to gain speed in 1964. Prior to 1964, both parties had their liberal, moderate, and conservative wings, each of them influential in both parties; President Franklin D. Roosevelt had proposed a realignment of the parties in the 1940s, though the trends which brought it about did not accelerate until two decades later. During this period, conservative Democrats formed the Democratic half of the conservative coalition. After 1964, the conservative wing assumed a greater presence in the Republican Party, although it did not become the mainstay of the party until the nomination of Ronald Reagan in 1980. The Democratic Party retained its conservative wing through the 1970s with the help of urban machine politics. This political realignment was mostly complete by 1980. After 1980, the Republicans became a mostly right-wing party, with conservative leaders such as Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, and Tom DeLay, while the Democrats, while keeping their left wing intact with such Senators as Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, and Paul Sarbanes, grew a substantial moderate wing in the 1990s in place of their old conservative wing, with leaders such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Evan Bayh. In 2008, the Democrats nominated Barack Obama for President; he was the first nominee since 1988 that was not a member of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council. An example of a Conservative Democrat is Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut.
The transformation of the Deep South into a Republican stronghold was effectively completed after the Republican Revolution of 1994, which saw Republicans pick up Congressional seats all over the country. In 2005, Georgia Senator Zell Miller, arguably the last traditional conservative Southern Democrat, retired.
Since 1994, conservative and moderate Democrats have been organized in the House of Representatives as the Blue Dog Democrats and New Democrats, respectively. Another coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats within the United States Senate is the Democratic Leadership Council, which promotes centrist positions on social/cultural issues and neo-liberal fiscal issues.
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Famous quotes containing the words democrat and/or conservative:
“I am a democrat only on principle, not by instinctnobody is that. Doubtless some people say they are, but this world is grievously given to lying.”
—Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (18351910)
“A radical is a man with both feet firmly planted in the air. A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs, who, however, has never learned to walk forward. A reactionary is a somnambulist walking backwards. A liberal is a man who uses his legs and his hands at the behest ... of his head.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt (18821945)