Republican Lincoln helped make Democrats of a lot of proponents of slavery and a lot of conservatives in other respects. (And also helped make African Americans Lincoln Republicans, like MLK, Sr and Senator Brooke of Massachusetts).
Ergo, the Democratic Party had a strong conservative streak from at least Lincoln forward, if not earlier. (Recall, Jefferson, a slave owner, is considered the father of the Party.)
Wallace and Thurmond are 20th Century examples of "Lincoln Democrats." (My little twist on Reagan Democrats.) And a lot of them began turning Republican after integration measures by FDR and Truman. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, of course, began a more massive exodus.
Meanwhile, the strong conservative streak of the Democratic Party had always been struggling for more control of the Party. Wallace and Thurmond are examples of some old timers who were "Lincoln Democrats." (My little twist on Reagan Democrats.) And a lot of them began turning on the Democratic Party after integration measures by FDR and Truman. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 began a more massive exodus. It tried to move after McGovern lost, to institute super delegates and, in general, make the party less democratic. However, all it succeed in doing then officially was undoing the Democratic Party reforms that McGovern instituted. Still, it kept trying.
With Lee Atwater's help, Reagan used a lot of dog whistles as his Southern strategy. After "Reagan Democrats" and Mondale's loss, they did succeed in instituting Super Delegates, thereby making the Party less democratic. (A fair number of years later, the Republicans followed suit, but Democrats were by far the first to try to put mechanisms in place to overrule the outcomes of their own primaries, as I said, all the way back to McGovern.) (I think Lee Atwater's South
And that is about the time the DLC officially formed. If you look at the wiki of the DLC, you see the founding members were mostly white Southern males with Presidential aspirations, like Bubba, Gore and Warner, the most notable exceptions being Lieberman and Hillary.
The founding members didn't all end up running for President, but, at that time, all were considered to have that potential. And they wanted the Southern vote when they ran, especially their own states (which Gore could not carry, even with the New Democrat business). Or, maybe being raised in the South among conservatives, some of them did have a genuine fiscally conservative streak, too, quite apart from their personal ambitions. Either way, as I see it, that is how we got to the DLC and "pragmatic" Democrats, aka New Democrats.
I strongly agree with you about the yuppies. That crowd and their followers are the ones trying to tell us it's all about winning elections and only about winning elections. But I don't believe them. I think they share a lot of fiscal goals with the Republicans, but not the social goals. That simple.
Geez, maybe I should make this an OP somewhere