Saturday, April 17, 2010

Of "Blue Dogs" and "Yellow Dogs"

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Today, we hear a lot about a group of so called "blue dog" Democrats, who are supposedly more fiscally conservative than the mainstream (left-leaning) Democrat Party.
But, when I was growing up, the term was "yellow dog" Democrat, as in, "I'd vote for an old yellow dog if'n he had a "D" after his name!"
According to Wikipedia:

Yellow Dog Democrats was a term applied to U.S. Southern voters who voted solely for Democratic candidates, with the term commencing in the late 19th century. Due to Republican president Abraham Lincoln's leading the Union against the Confederacy, these voters would allegedly "vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican". Currently, the term is now more generally applied to refer to any Democrat who will vote a straight Party ticket under any circumstances.

The article doesn't examine how the term fell into widespread disuse, so I'll venture an opinion:

Up until the 1960's, Democrats were strong and reliable on national defense. Hubert Humphrey or even J.F.K. would feel quite at home with the defense posture of today's Republican Party. It was in the sixties, with the rise of George McGovern and the modern anti-war liberal wing that has taken over the party of the Democrats, that they became uncomfortable with a major connotation of the word "yellow" and that is "cowardice".

Liberals, who for years have been weak on defense, many Democrat candidates having not served their country in uniform (two recent Democrat presidents come to mind!), resented the implication that as "yellow dogs" they might not only be associated just with any cur running down the street, but might also be perceived as cowards because of their unwillingness to fight or commit troops to the defense of their nation.

As the liberals of the sixties found their into the MSM, the term "yellow dog Democrat" has mostly faded away. Some of us still remember, though. And we can recognize a yellow dog when we see one!

Cross posted at Say Anything