Republican Roy Moore lost the senate race to liberal Democrat Doug Jones in deeply conservative Alabama. This is because lots of conservatives and lots of Christians refused to vote for Moore, even though his positions would seem to align with theirs. Evidently, Alabama voters did not go along with the “yellow dog” political fallacy.
I grew up in the land of “yellow dog” Democrats. They called themselves that because they claimed that they would vote for a “yellow dog” if it were a Democrat. You would vote for anyone–no matter how bad their character, how unqualified they were, or how corrupt they were going to be–as long as it helped keep Democrats in power. That kind of party loyalty ran deep in rural Oklahoma. You voted Democratic to safeguard farm programs, rural electrification, labor unions, and welfare payments. Oklahoma was so Democratic back in the 1950s and 1960s that I had never even met a Republican until I went off to college.
Today, though, Oklahoma is among the most Republican of all of the states! Yellow dogs might have been an improvement over some of the kickback-pocketing county commissioners and pork barrel Congressmen that dominated Oklahoma politics for generations. After a few scandals and prison terms, after a patriotic backlash occasioned by the Vietnam War, and after the Democratic party turned away from the working class in favor of leftist academics and suburban feminists, Oklahoma swung hard to the other direction. Though I haven’t heard the term, I suspect there are now “Yellow Dog” Republicans.
There were lots of things wrong with Judge Moore as a senate candidate. Revelations came out about his history of preying on young girls, to the point of sexual assault. In defending himself, Moore kept digging himself deeper. He brought in a friend to a campaign rally as a character reference, who told about the two of them going to an underaged brothel in Vietnam. Roy walked out and didn’t do anything. But what was he doing in an underaged brothel? At first, Moore admitted knowing the adolescent girls he was accused of mistreating, but by the end of the campaign he denied knowing them. Which was the lie? But even without the sexual accusations, Moore was a problematic candidate. See this “comprehensive case against Roy Moore.” For example, his practice as a judge of refusing to honor higher court rulings that he disagreed with. What if liberal judges refused to honor conservative rulings?
Surely it would have been better to have voted for Moore with all of his faults in order to help keep the Republican party in power so as to further their conservative policies. In fact, it would have been better to have voted for a Yellow Dog if he were a Republican.
Now that argument has force. I can understand someone thinking that way and voting that way.
But I still believe that yellow dog voting is a fallacy.
Granting the pragmatic considerations, we must consider the possibility that if Republicans elected Judge Moore, that would play into the hands of the Democratic propaganda machine, damaging the Republican “brand” and possibly leading to the election of even more liberal Democrats in 2018.
Also, a conservative principle has always been that character matters in our elected officials. Christian conservatives have stood against the tide by affirming the importance of “family values,” including traditional sexual morality. If these principles are sacrificed in the name of political expedience, that suggests that they aren’t so important after all.
If Republicans get in the habit of electing bad candidates just because of their ideology, that will discredit the ideology. In the long run, I think that would hurt Republicans and their causes.
Besides, there aren’t enough “yellow dog Republicans” in the country to elect bad candidates. They are easy to beat. Electoral success hinges on fielding good, effective, inspiring candidates.
So I think even the pragmatic argument favors putting forward the best candidates possible and not voting bad candidates into power.
Photo by skeeze, via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons