Can dog whistle politics keep the GOP in power, or is America too smart to stay enthralled?


Especially if, by some grotesque misunderstanding, you don’t think you’re in the 47% Mitt Romney wrote off as undeserving of a vote and a life, you ought to listen to Ian Haney López describe what’s going on in GOP and conservative politics.

From Bill Moyers.

Transcript here.

Cover of Ian Haney Lopez's Dog Whistle Politics, How coded racial appeals reinvented racism and wrecked the middle class; Oxford Books

Cover of Ian Haney Lopez’s Dog Whistle Politics, How coded racial appeals reinvented racism and wrecked the middle class; Oxford Books

Moyers’s website describes this interview:

Ian Haney López on the Dog Whistle Politics of Race

February 28, 2014

What do Cadillac-driving “welfare queens,” a “food stamp president” and the “lazy, dependent and entitled” 47 percent tell us about post-racial America? They’re all examples of a type of coded racism that this week’s guest, Ian Haney López, writes about in his new book, Dog Whistle Politics.

Haney López is an expert in how racism has evolved in America since the civil rights era. Over the past 50 years, politicians have mastered the use of dog whistles – code words that turn Americans against each other while turning the country over to plutocrats. This political tactic, says Haney López, is “the dark magic” by which middle-class voters have been seduced to vote against their own economic interests.

“It comes out of a desire to win votes. And in that sense… It’s racism as a strategy. It’s cold, it’s calculating, it’s considered,” Haney López tells Bill, “it’s the decision to achieve one’s own ends, here winning votes, by stirring racial animosity.”

Ian Haney López, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, is a senior fellow at the policy analysis and advocacy group, Demos.

Producer: Candace White. Segment Producer: Robert Booth. Editor: Sikay Tang.

Does revealing the existence of dog whistles help kill the cheap trick?  My fear is that those who hear the whistle clearly understand that they are responding to a racist call, and that is why they respond.  Exposing the racism, or exposing the subtle use of racism, only makes the politicians who use the whistle more appealing to those voter segments, and those policies more appealing to those voters (though they would not admit it).

If you think dog whistles don’t exist, consider the hot controversies surrounding education spending, vouchers to kill public schools, immigration reform needed to boost our economy, or health care reform.  Consider also the birther movement.

After hearing Mr. Haney López’s interview, what do you think?

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2 Responses to Can dog whistle politics keep the GOP in power, or is America too smart to stay enthralled?

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