Saturday, 6 March 2010

Eugene (Gene) Taylor - Democratic Congressman - Mississippi

Eugene (Gene) Taylor (House Representative - D-Mississippi) may appear an unusual choice for this week’s subject on prominent Democrats, but I have chosen him because he is so atypical for a ‘liberal’ (quotes used advisedly as you will see). What is so striking is his economic and social conservatism (as well as his location) – particularly on the issues which are often highlighted as separating the ‘liberal’ Democrats from the ‘conservative’ Republicans. He is therefore an example of how nuanced American politics has become and also of the importance of the ‘local’ in the U.S. political system. Although a Democrat, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, he represents one of the most conservative districts in the whole country (number 20 most Republican from a total of 435) but has still maintained his congressional seat since 1989:

In the context of the liberal versus conservative debate, Taylor is extremely conservative on most social issues:

- Pro-life (he is a Catholic)
- Anti legislation promoting gay rights
- Pro gun rights
- Pro death penalty
- Hard line on crime, drugs and immigration
- Generally pro environmental reform but anti Cap-and-Trade
- He is also considered ideologically against the separation of state and religion (

His stance on economic issues is more nuanced unlike his conservative attitude toward national security:

- Anti trade union
- Very protectionist (anti free trade)
- Pro a balanced budget so generally anti tax cuts
- Pro controlling campaign financing
- Pro political reform
- Generally opposed to Obama’s healthcare reforms but pro federal support for prescriptions, pro Medicare and pro dropping restrictions on health insurer competitiveness
- Very pro military spending and veteran benefits
- Pro security
- Pro government fiscal responsibility
- Pro business – so generally anti employee rights but pro raising the minimum wage,

He is also a member of the ‘Blue dog Coalition’:

This is a Congressional group of conservative Democrats which acts collectively in order to provide a block of support to promote many of their shared views. It has become a political force to contend with as the group often votes as a ‘bloc’ and therefore may represent the difference between success/failure to enact legislation. It is also worth mentioning that this group has stated aims of acting for the benefit of bi-partisanship over ideology and often work as the ‘centre ground’ to create sufficient compromise to break deadlocks within the House.

However, the group receives a large percentage of its funding from the health care industry which suggests that the Blue Dogs general stance against healthcare reform may be more than just a representation of their voters’ preferences.

In general, therefore, he is more against ‘big government’ than for it
and more individualist than collectivist. His support of federal initiatives is very targeted toward those which reflect the preferences of his demographically specific electorate (white, working class, conservative). Given the extent of his conservatism, I am surprised that he hasn’t ‘crossed the floor’ so would be interested in examining why he retains his affiliation to the Democrats.

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