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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Return of the "Dixiecrats"?

Mississippi Democrat Travis Childers won a special election in a seat formerly held by a Republican. His victory is the second in a row by a southern Democrat. Previously, a Democrat won a seat held by a Republican in Louisiana. It was also the third special election in a row won by a Democrat in a district that was formerly Republican.

Today's Southern Republicans are the lineial descendents of the old "Dixiecrats" who first began leaving the Democratic Party when we adopted a civil rights plank in our platform during the 1948 convention. The trickle became a flood after Lyndon Johnson worked for and help produce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. At the time, Johnson prophetically said, "We [Democrats] have lost the South for a generation."

While it is far too early to pronounce a trend, it's interesting to note that the two Democrats who won their election are both socially conservative, white, males, once considered an "endangered species" in the American political world. In Oklahoma, we have such an elected official in Rep. Dan Boren who, interestingly enough, represents the part of Oklahoma known as "Little Dixie."

Today, these socially conservative and economically moderate Democrats are known as the "Blue Dog Democrats." In a closely divided Congress, they wield power in greater proportion to their numbers.

In the past, the Dixiecrats blocked a great deal of good legislation like national health care and workers' rights. How will these Democrats respond to the needs we have for economic justice in our nation?

Miss. Democrat wins GOP-held House seat
Why GOP’s Mississippi House loss resonates


Blue Dog Democrats said...

This is a great development. The southern conservatives know when they are being conned by Neo Cons.

Lynn Green said...

I am anxious to see how the Blue Dogs vote on economic issues like health care and the right for workers to organize.