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

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OUP USA, 2014 - History - 277 pages
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.
 

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User Review  - mcelhra - LibraryThing

I found Dog Whistle Politics utterly fascinating, horrifying and heartbreaking all at the same time. López defines dog whistling as “inaudible and easily denied in one range, yet stimulating strong ... Read full review

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User Review  - Mithalogica - LibraryThing

On the one hand, I love this book, and I think it's terrifically important. On the other, I was disappointed in its lack of scope. Let me back up; I received this for Early Reviewers, and I've been ... Read full review

Contents

IntroductionRacial Politics and the Middle Class
1
1 The GOPs Rise as the White Mans Party
13
Strategic Racism
35
Reagan
55
4 The False Allure of Colorblindness
77
Clinton and W
105
6 Getting Away with Racism
127
The Tea Party and Romney
147
8 Whats the Matter with White Voters? Commonsense Racism
169
9 Obamas PostRacial Strategy
191
ConclusionTo End Dog Whistle Politics
211
Appendix
233
Notes
235
Index
265
Acknowledgments
275
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About the author (2014)


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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