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

4.8 11
by Ian Haney Lopez
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


Two themes dominate American politics today: at the forefront is declining economic opportunity; coursing underneath is race. Dog Whistle Politics connects both. It reveals how racial pandering convinces many white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich while betraying their own interests.

Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald

Overview


Two themes dominate American politics today: at the forefront is declining economic opportunity; coursing underneath is race. Dog Whistle Politics connects both. It reveals how racial pandering convinces many white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich while betraying their own interests.

Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" and "strapping young bucks" buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never mentioned race. He didn't need to because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. Ian Haney López offers a sweeping account of dog whistle politics in modern America, stretching from George Wallace and Richard Nixon, through Bill Clinton, to the Tea Party and Mitt Romney, and finishing with Barack Obama's light tread around race.

Dog Whistle Politics offers a major breakthrough in demonstrating how racial appeals connect directly to surging wealth inequality. As conservative activists use race-baiting to sugarcoat attacks on liberal government, their dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration. But in return for their votes, the middle class suffers from rightwing polices that slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. The tactic continues at full force, also influencing the Democratic Party. Dog whistle politics today drums up support for weakening unions and public pensions, cutting Medicare and Social Security, and defunding public schools.

Dog Whistle Politics will generate a lively debate about race as a fundamental driver of economic inequality that imperils the middle class, white and nonwhite alike.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
12/01/2013
López (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. López 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. López 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
From the Publisher
"This is one of those books that should be required reading for anyone and everyone who is struggling to understand how and why political elites succeed, time and again, in persuading poor and working class whites to support regressive policies that are a boon for corporations but actually harm them and wreck the middle class. The answer to the riddle has far more to do with race than most want to acknowledge. But it isn't old-fashioned, malevolent racism that's to blame. No, as Haney López brilliantly and painstakingly lays bare, what is unraveling our nation is not bad people, but a stubborn refusal to deal openly and honestly with the reality of how race operates today." —Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

"Read this book to understand how dog whistle politics enables the wealth gap to stay the same and even to get worse not just for blacks or other people of color but for the white working class as well. As Haney López demonstrates, the vocabulary of race has changed. Nonetheless, race is still skillfully used to distract our attention from ongoing and pernicious disparities in economic opportunities." —Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor, Harvard Law School, and author of The Miner's Canary

"A brilliant guide to modern politics, for anyone who wants to understand how outright racist appeals morphed into the genteel rhetoric of 'states rights' and from there into today's 'defund Obamacare' — and why Democrats too often collude in rather than repudiate dog whistle politics." —Joan Walsh, Salon.com and MSNBC, and author of What's the Matter With White People

"Grounded in history rather than theory, this is recommended to readers engaged in today's political discourse." —Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199964277
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
01/13/2014
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
637,853
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Ian Haney López is the John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. An incisive voice on white identity since the publication of his path-breaking book White by Law (1996), he remains at the forefront of conversations about race in modern America. A past visiting professor at 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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Mama-Rose More than 1 year ago
Haney Lopez is so measured in this excellent and important book and never condemns "ordinary" Americans who have unwittingly, for the most part, helped to perpetuate a system that employs damaging untruths dressed in coded language and undercuts our national well-being and chances for a thriving democracy. Through a clear-eyed, and very vital, close look at the history of how coded racist messages have been employed for political gain, he shows that we have moved not to a so-called post-racial society but one in which racism has evolved and is being used skillfully, and very destructively, by politicians--but by letting this system persist, we harm ourselves and are, in his words, "wrecking the middle class." Such a valuable book, with a final chapter offering ways to change and fix these despicable practices.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author, Ian Lopez has explained the subliminal attack of words and phrases issued by those in government that attempt to shape our opinions and thoughts and want to gain support for their agenda of maintaining two classes of society, that being the wealthy and the impoverished to insure their own status. The title of the book tells just how it is accomplished. By issuing statements and stories of events that may not be favorable to everyone that already works two jobs,pays their bills and taxes without tax loopholes. It appears to them that others are getting a free ride,which is not the situation in most cases. What is not apparent to the wealthy is the middle class had paid the way for both classes for most of this century. The title "Dog Whistle Polotics" is prompting us to open our eyes, minds and most importantly our ears to listen to the silent messages..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book concisely explains what is subconsciously thought by many, but rarely put into words. As I've been reading this book, nearly every page has lines of fact or theory that I've highlighted so as not to forget. Persuasive and insightful, this book is a must for anyone (hopefully everyone) who is interested in learning more about how racial relations has influenced our past and current political situation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THE MAIN CHAT/RP IS AT RES FOUR! THE ONE THAT IS CALLED 'The Crunchers' OR SOMETHING!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Muahahahaha......