In an earlier post this week, I identified myself as a yellow dog democrat. Bipolar Lawyer Cook asked what that could be. She is not alone. For some people, including my partner, this is not a well known term.
Melanie, over at Bean Paste, was quick to offer the definition in the comment section, but I wanted to give you a little bit of the history (I'm all about the history, dear readers).
There are competing online versions of the history of the term, and this time, I think that Wikipedia has the more correct of the versions. DO NOT tell my English students about this; they will insist that their desire to cite Wikipedia in academic writings should be honored.
The term, "Yaller Dog Democrat" springs from the post restoration period in the South when white men swarmed to the Democratic party as a response to the restoration.
Wikipedia sites the book, Exit Laughing, with the story of a Kentucky democrat, Theodore Hallam, saying that he would sooner vote for an old yaller dog than a republican.
Another history, at a commercial website, claims that the appellation comes from the 1928 Presidential campaign when many democrats, while they didn't like Al Smith, were loath to vote republican.
When I was a yunggin, my mother told me that a yaller dog democrat was a bad thing: it evoked an ugly, racist past that was better left in the past, and it also spoke of a person who was closed minded. After all, it is possible that a republican might actually be a superior candidate.
Mamma was a wise woman, but I don't think she ever knowingly voted republican in her life.
In recent years, liberal democrats have decided to reclaim (and respell) the term yellow dog democrat. While it still means that we would rather vote for a yellow dog than a republican, it has a different ethos, I think. After all, the voting rights act of 1964 saw to it that most of the racists switched parties. Anyone for a post on the Southern Strategy of the Republican Party?
(Before you ask, the dog at the beginning of this post is mine, the other is just a good looking yaller dog.)