Conservative Coalition

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The Conservative Coalition was a coalition in American politics bringing together the conservative majority of the Republicans and a conservative, mostly Southern minority of the Democrats. The coalition battled the liberals of the New Deal Coalition and largely controlled Congress from 1937 to 1963 and continued as a potent force until the 1990s when the southern Democrats were replaced by southern Republicans. In its heyday, its most important Republican leader was Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, and the chief Democrats were Senator Richard Russell, Jr. of Georgia and Congressmen Howard W. Smith of Virginia and Carl Vinson of Georgia. Between 1939 and 1963, the coalition was able to exercise virtual veto power over domestic legislation, and no major liberal legislation was passed during this entire quarter century. Under Lyndon Johnson liberals broke the power of the coalition by passing the Civil Rights Act and electing a liberal Congress in 1964, which passed the liberal Great Society programs. However the coalition regained strength in the 1966 election, in the face of massive rioting in the cities, and the tearing apart of the Democratic New Deal coalition over issues of black power, liberalism, student radicalism and Vietnam. After 1994 the Republicans took control of most of the conservative southern districts, so the Southern Democratic part of the coalition evaporated.