Conservative Democrats then versus Conservative Democrats Now

I heard something yesterday that I found striking, and in the context of some jelling conventional wisdom something that punches back.  The oncoming Democratic Majority in the House is the first House Majority that is not shored up by, or as the case may be held up with, a majority of the seats in the South.

Working through that information, I can extrapulate even further back.  With two exceptions, this is the first House Majority of that type since the year 1930, when the Democrats took over Congress after the Great Market Collapse and the onslaught of the Great Depression.  The two exceptions are the famous “Do Nothing Congress” of the Republicans, elected in 1946 due to Truman fatigue and tossed aside when Truman won his improbable election by mercilessly attacking Congress, and the four year period following the 1950 election to the 1954 election.  The Democrats had complete control over the Solid South, which switched party control in terms of majority when the Republicans won Congress in 1994.

Keep that in mind as we consider the late punditing that the Democrats’ victory came with a batch of conservative victories of politicans who are aping Republicans, befitting the hopeful spin from Republicans that the Democrats remain losers.

Looking down the list of the nine new Democratic Senators, and this doesn’t make sense at all.  (Actually, strike that.  Eight new Democratic Senators and one… SOCIALIST, which adds to the point.)  I suppose you have Bob Casey, Jr, famously recruited as a sop for social conservatives.  Beyond that, you look at Jim Webb square-eyed, but I am hard-pressed to pick out a hot-button issue of a liberal litmus test variety that Webb is on the other side on.  (He defends gay marriage in Virginia, for crying out loud.)  The punditing keeps landing on the issue of gun control, and I guess bully for an issue that hasn’t been pushed in over a decade.

You have better luck with this premise in the House.  Indeed, a handful of “blue dog Democrats” have been elected.  As have all the other varieties of Democrats.

I owe this thought to a blogger from dailykos, a little bit of historical perspective.  The current Conservative Democrats have nothing to the old Democratic Conservatives, also known as “Dixiecrats”.  If the current “blue dog” Democrats put a lease on what our liberal Democratic committee chairs can do, consider what the positively Reactionary Democrats (who chaired those committees) put a leash on up to — oh, I don’t know — 1964.  Start with stopping a piece of anti-lynching legislation in 1938 and go from there to curtailing  and watering down forward-stepping civil rights legislation in the 1950s.

Example: Ellison D. “Cotton Ed” Smith of South Caarolina who stormed out of the Democratic Convention in 1936 because a black minister was delivering an invocation, shouting “By God, he’s as black as melted midnight.”

The current coalition differs substantially from that coalition, and one has to say that’s a lot better deal.

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