Now, that’s not a novel claim and, indeed, dog whistle politics is not my phrase. It’s a kind of “inside the beltway” phrase. Most people who recognize that this sort of coded racial appeal is an essential part of our politics, fail to recognize two things that I think are crucial, and that’s the real contribution of my book. First, these coded racial appeals are not simply marginal or not the work of desperate politicians. So we can think about Newt Gingrich talking about [Barack] Obama as a food-stamp president. He was censured for this sort of race baiting but also presented as marginal and desperate. This is not just the actions of some folks who are marginal and desperate. This has been a concerted GOP strategy since 1963. And we see it no more effectively than in 2014, when the major themes of the Republican candidates were ISIS and Ebola, crossing the southern border, plus Obama’s incompetence. These are all racially charged allegations.
That’s our first mistake, to think it’s marginal. It’s not marginal. There’s a 50-year history here, and it’s central to the GOP.Another way to see this is the GOP today draws 93, 94 percent of its support from whites, and that thought ought to give you serious pause. In a country that’s 65 percent white, how can that be that one of our two major political parties is essentially a party for whites? So that’s one claim. Here’s the other claim, and this one is more important. Race baiting … is harnessed to a particular ideological vision of government … that we ought to distrust government, because government coddles minorities through things like social welfare and public education. The theme is not just fear minorities but demonize government for coddling and refusing to control minorities. And the prescribed solution, you’ll recognize these: tax cuts, disinvestment in social services and getting government out of the way of business. These are the GOP talking points that have led to levels of wealth and inequality our country hasn’t seen since the Great Depression.