Cover image for Dog whistle politics : how coded racial appeals have reinvented racism and wrecked the middle class
Dog whistle politics : how coded racial appeals have reinvented racism and wrecked the middle class
Physical Description:
xiv, 277 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Preface. Learning about racism at Harvard Law -- Introduction. Racial politics and the middle class -- The GOP's rise as "the white man's party" -- Beyond hate : strategic racism -- The wrecking begins : Reagan -- The false allure of colorblindness -- Shifting the tune : Clinton and W. -- Getting away with racism -- Makers and takers : the Tea Party and Romney -- What's the matter with white voters? : Commonsense racism -- Obama's post-racial strategy -- Conclusion. To end dog whistle politics.
Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never needed to mention race, because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he tapped into a long political tradition that is more relevant than ever in the age of the Tea Party and the first black president. In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian Haney López offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations control over financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives.--From publisher description.


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Book 323.1196 HAN 1 1

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The decades-long increase in income inequality has become perhaps "the" issue in American politics, and scholars have offered many reasons for why the gap between the rich and the rest has widened so much since the mid-1970s. Most of the explanations have been social and political in thebroadest sense, and many have keyed on the propensity of middle- and working class Americans to vote against their own interest. Yet given that the greatest income divide is racial in nature, why have so few looked toward racially motivated behavior as a cause?Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Wrecked the Middle Class is a sweeping account of how "dog-whistle" racial politics contributed to increasing inequality in America since the 1960s. Now a pervasive term in American political coverage, "dog whistle" refers to coded signals sent tocertain constituencies that only those constituencies will understand. Just as only dogs can hear a dog whistle, only a constituency fluent in a subterranean argot can understand that argot when it is used. For instance, attacks on Obama's use of a teleprompter is a dog whistle for racist voters whoquestion blacks' (and by extension, the President's) intelligence.Haney's book will cover racial dog whistles in America from the 1960s to the present, showing that their appeal has helped generate working class and middle class populist enthusiasm for policies that were actually injurious to their own interests. As Haney-Lopez argues, the implicit associationbetween blacks and social welfare programs that dog whistle politicians make has led many voters to turn against the state itself despite the fact that they benefit from redistributive policies. The dog whistle tactic has been with us from at least the era of George Wallace, but every candidate whohas benefited from race-based resentments has used it: Nixon, Reagan (welfare queens), George Bush I (Willie Horton), Bill Clinton (Sister Souljah), and - most recently - Newt Gingrich. A sweeping reinterpretation of the recent political and legal history of the U.S., Dog Whistle Politics is sure togenerate a productive and lively debate about the role of race as a fundamental driver of inequality.

Author Notes

Ian Haney-Lopez is the John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Emerging as an incisive voice on white identity with his path-breaking book White by Law (1996), he remains at the forefront of conversations about race in modern America. A past visiting professorat Yale and Harvard law schools, in 2011 he was awarded the Alphonse Fletcher Fellowship, given to scholars whose work promotes the integration goals of Brown v. Board of Education.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Lopez (White by Law) examines the intersections of declining economic opportunities and race affiliation as expressed by political parties. He defines "dog-whistle politics" as coded racial appeals that invite hostility toward a target group, a practice employed by both major parties but far more extensively by the Republican Party. Lopez discusses how some members of a middle class that benefited from the opportunities provided by a growing liberal federal governmental system have been swayed into polarized GOP voter groups, a deciding factor in many political contests. Beginning with Nixon's 1960 presidential campaign in the South, the book follows the evolution of coded racial appeals, including those of Bill Clinton to attract whites away from the GOP. Lopez offers a number of approaches that political parties, unions, civil rights groups, and progressives may consider incorporating into their political activities to offset dog-whistle politics, e.g., stick to a "positive liberal vision," identify those who are engaging in dog-whistle politics, and openly address issues of race. VERDICT Grounded in history rather than theory, this is recommended to readers engaged in today's political discourse.-Marcus Kieltyka, Central Washington Univ. Lib., Ellensburg (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface-Learning About Racism at Harvard Lawp. ix
Introduction-Racial Politics and the Middle Classp. 1
1 The GOP's Rise as "the White Man's Party"p. 13
2 Beyond Hate: Strategic Racismp. 35
3 The Wrecking Begins: Reaganp. 55
4 The False Allure of Colorblindnessp. 77
5 Shifting the Tune: Clinton and W.p. 105
6 Getting Away with Racismp. 127
7 Makers and Takers: The Tea Party and Romneyp. 147
8 What's the Matter with White Voters? Commonsense Racismp. 169
9 Obama's Post-Racial Strategyp. 191
Conclusion-To End Dog Whistle Politicsp. 211
Appendixp. 233
Notesp. 235
Indexp. 265
Acknowledgmentsp. 275