Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

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Overview

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 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 started with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and is more relevant than ...

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Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

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Overview

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 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 started with George Wallace and Richard Nixon, and 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 extremely 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 against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and 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. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform.

Rejecting any simple story of malevolent and obvious racism, Haney López links as never before the two central themes that dominate American politics today: the decline of the middle class and the Republican Party's increasing reliance on white voters. Dog Whistle Politics will generate a lively and much-needed debate about how racial politics has destabilized the American middle class — white and nonwhite members alike.

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Editorial Reviews

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

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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199964277
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/13/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 64,745
  • 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.

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Table of Contents

Preface Learning about Racism at Harvard Law School

Introduction Racial Politics and the Middle Class

Chapter One The Southern Strategy and the GOP's Rise as the White Man's Party

Chapter Two Beyond Hate: Strategic Racism

Chapter Three The Wrecking Begins: Ronald Reagan

Chapter Four Colorblindness and Whites as Racial Victims

Chapter Five Updating the Whistle: Clinton and W.

Chapter Six How Conservatives Get Away with Racism

Chapter Seven Makers and Takers

Chapter Eight What's the Matter with White Voters?

Chapter Nine Obama's Post-Racial Strategy

Conclusion To End Dog Whistle Politics

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 31, 2014

    essential--I wish every American would read this book

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2014

    Author, Ian Lopez has explained the subliminal attack of words a

    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..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    Kiley

    Wanna chat yone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    I claim the master

    Muahahahaha......

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    Doc/Doctor

    I might say Doc I might say Doctor I'm still the same person though. I am the original Doctor. Before the TARDIS made another me...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    I cliam

    The dalek.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    DR WHOOVES @ ALL!

    THE MAIN CHAT/RP IS AT RES FOUR! THE ONE THAT IS CALLED 'The Crunchers' OR SOMETHING!

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    Posted April 19, 2014

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    Posted April 8, 2014

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    Posted May 17, 2014

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