Commonwealth Club Ian Haney-Lopez: Race and Politics in AmericaThe program's guest is Ian Haney-Lopez, UC Berkeley professor of law and author of "Dog Whistle Politics." Haney-Lopez explains how a silent "dog whistle" language in politics sends one message to the electorate while sending a coded message to a targeted political base. He analyzes how that coded language has contributed to increasing inequality in America since the 1960s. For example, when campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan never mentioned race when he told stories of Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" and "strapping young bucks" buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. But Haney-Lopez contends that Reagan's "dog whistle" message was about racial minorities -- inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he says Reagan tapped into a long political tradition used strategically by both liberal and conservative politicians, and this language has remained relevant in the age of the Tea Party and President Obama.
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