Democrat In Name Only

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"DINO" redirects here. For other uses, see Dino.

Democrat In Name Only (DINO) 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 term was created as an analogous opposite to "RINO" (Republican In Name Only), which refers to more liberal members of the U.S. Republican Party.

"DINO" is used by more ideological (politically speaking) members of the Democrats to counter fellow party members for their heterodox, or relatively moderate or conservative positions. Likewise, the term RINO is typically given to Republican members who espouse more "middle of the road" positions or who espouse more liberal positions.

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

Regional differences and issues[edit]

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.

Conservative Democrats today[edit]

The Blue Dog Coalition and the DLC[edit]

Single-issue caucuses[edit]

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).[1]

Differing views of conservative Democrats[edit]

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". 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...[2]

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[edit]

During the 2004 election, several writers who self-identified as conservative 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,[3] and Justin Raimondo giving the nod to independent Ralph Nader.[4]

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.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Amendment II Democrats website
  2. ^
  3. ^ The American Conservative. "Kerry's The One" (November 8, 2004).
  4. ^ The American Conservative. "Old Right Nader" (November 8, 2004).
  5. ^ The New York Times. "Election Results: South Carolina" (November 6, 2008).