Democrat In Name Only

Democrat In Name Only
DINO redirects here. For other uses, see Dino.

Democrat In Name Only, or DINO in acronym form, is a disparaging term for a member of the United States Democratic Party. A DINO is considered to be more conservative (fiscally and/or socially) than fellow Democrats. The terms "Fox News liberal", "Fox Democrat", and "Fox News Democrat" have also been used in this context.[1][non-primary source needed]

The term was created as an analogous opposite to RINO (Republican In Name Only), which refers to more liberal members of the US Republican Party.

"DINO" is used by more ideological (politically speaking) members of the Democrats to counter fellow party members for their heterodox, or relatively conservative positions. In contrast, the term RINO is typically given to "middle of the road" Republican members who are willing to work with other parties.

Dixiecrats were conservative Democrats in the South during the segregation years. Many Dixiecrats switched to the Republican Party, or retired from politics. Others remained Democrats, but positioned themselves to the "right" of other party members.


Regional differences and issues

As with the term RINO, regional variations between party constituencies are a factor. Many "DINOs" come from more socially or fiscally conservative states or districts where a more liberal politician would face difficulty. Some of these politicians are descendants of the Southern-based Dixiecrats, a once prominent faction within the Democratic Party, but that shrank rapidly following the party's support of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

Accused DINOs

Senate members Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have all been called DINOs, as have former senators Zell Miller of Georgia and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.[citation needed]

Zell Miller

U.S. Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat from Georgia, was increasingly critical of his party (and vice versa[2]) during his term in office. Among other reasons, he cited disagreement with the proponents of anti-war views within the party. His voting record had a decided rightward lean, especially during the period after September 11, 2001[citation needed], when Senator Miller voted consistently with the Republicans in the Senate. This culminated in Miller giving a speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention endorsing George W. Bush and denouncing his own party. Zell Miller is the author of the book A National Party No More which outlines his views.[3] After leaving office, he joined Fox News as a correspondent.[4]

Joe Lieberman

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat from Connecticut, was seen as a strong supporter of President Bush's policies, primarily on national security and defense issues. Although he campaigned against Bush in the 2000 Presidential Election as Al Gore’s running mate, and competed for the chance to oppose Bush for re-election in 2004, on occasion he was more reluctant to criticize the president than his more liberal colleagues. He became critical of the Democratic Party’s opposition to the War in Iraq, and their reluctance to support the president's war efforts. In his 2006 reelection campaign, Lieberman lost the Democratic primary to businessman Ned Lamont, due to Democratic voter dissatisfaction. Although he was asked not to by Democratic leaders, Lieberman mounted a third-party candidacy, and was able to retain his seat. He then said he would still caucus with Democrats and support a Democrat for President in 2008. Despite these comments, Lieberman supported Republican John McCain in the primaries. McCain became the Republican nominee, and Lieberman became a potential vice president or cabinet member. Democrats criticized Lieberman for attacking Democratic nominee Barack Obama, especially in his primetime speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Many Democrats wanted Lieberman to be stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs due to his speech at the RNC,[5] but the Senate Democratic Caucus voted 42 to 13 to allow Lieberman to keep his chairmanship. Democratic leaders credited Obama's support for Lieberman for the decision.[6][7]

Conservative Democrats today

The Blue Dog Coalition and the DLC

See main articles: Blue Dog Democrats, New Democrats.

Single-issue caucuses

The Democratic Party has a number of single-issue caucuses within the party which promote a position on the issues in question that differ from the Democratic platform, although they support the other platform positions. These include Democrats for Life of America (pro-life) and Amendment II Democrats (pro-gun rights).[8]

Differing views of conservative Democrats

Some see conservative Democrats as usually centrist or moderate. Some Conservative Democrats believe in social programs (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid). Some want all Americans to have health care coverage and guaranteed pensions, and are vehemently opposed to the idea of privatizing any of these institutions. Their ideas about marriage, abortion, gun control, and, to an extent, the death penalty are sometimes more compatible with the Republican way of thinking. This viewpoint is supported by the Pew Research Center and their study "Beyond Red Vs. Blue" [1]. This study identifies Conservative Democrats as one of three core Democratic Party constituencies (the other two being Liberals and Disadvantaged Democrats). Conservative Democrats are distinguishable by staunch liberal views on economic issues (a populist orientation setting them apart from conservative Republicans and explaining their continued allegiance to the Democratic Party), with their moderate to conservative views on other issues:

"Religious orientation and conservative views set this group apart from other Democratic-leaning groups on many social and political issues. Conservative Democrats' views are moderate with respect to key policy issues such as foreign policy, regulation of the environment and the role of government in providing a social safety net...Less extreme on moral beliefs than core Republican groups, but most oppose gay marriage and the acceptance of homosexuality, and support a more active role for government in protecting morality. No more conservative than the national average on other social issues such as abortion and stem-cell research. They overwhelmingly oppose The War in Iraq, and are vehemently opposed to President Bush's foreign policy as a whole. But views of America's overall foreign policy are mixed..."

According to the Pew Research Center study, Conservative Democrats are 15% of registered voters in the U.S., voted for Kerry over Bush by a 65%-14% margin in 2004, and were identified in past Pew Research Center studies as New Dealers rather than Conservative Democrats, making this group of voters the ideological heirs to FDR's New Deal coalition and the "Vital Center" ideology of the 1950s.

The term Democrats In Name Only has been applied to conservative Democrats by some on the left wing of the party.

Conservative endorsements of Democratic candidates

During the 2004 election, several high-profile conservative writers endorsed the Presidential campaign of John Kerry, arguing that the Bush Administration was pursuing policies which were anything but conservative. Among the most notable of these endorsements came from Andrew Sullivan and Paul Craig Roberts, while a series of editorials in Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative magazine made a conservative case for several candidates, with Scott McConnell formally endorsing Kerry,[9] and Justin Raimondo giving the nod to independent Ralph Nader.[10]

In 2006, Democratic Nebraska senator Ben Nelson received the endorsements of groups such as the National Right to Life and the National Rifle Association, respectively a pro-life group and pro-gun group, that both typically endorse Republicans.

In South Carolina in 2008, the Democratic candidate for United States Senator was Bob Conley, a traditional Catholic, and a former activist for the Presidential candidacy of Ron Paul. Conley failed in his bid to defeat Republican Lindsey Graham, receiving 42.4 percent of the vote.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "CT-Sen: Fox propaganda machine in overdrive". Daily Kos. 2006-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  2. ^ "Zell Bent," by Ed Kilgore. Blueprint Magazine (November 20, 2003).
  3. ^ "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat." Zell Miller. Stroud & Hall Publishing (2003).
  4. ^ "Retiring Sen. Zell Miller Joining Fox News", USA Today, 14 Dec 2004
  5. ^ Rushing, J. Taylor. "Sen. Lieberman likely to lose his gavel in massive reshuffle being discussed". Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  6. ^ Sources: Lieberman likely to keep top Democratic post,, November 17, 2008.
  7. ^ Lieberman credits Obama after Dems let him keep post,, November 18, 2008.
  8. ^ Amendment II Democrats website
  9. ^ The American Conservative. "Kerry's The One" (November 8, 2004).
  10. ^ The American Conservative. "Old Right Nader" (November 8, 2004).
  11. ^ The New York Times. "Election Results: South Carolina" (November 6, 2008).

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