Clip: Ronald Reagan’s Racially Tinged Stump Speeches

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In Dog Whistle Politics, author and legal scholar Ian Haney López describes how politicians use subtle, racially coded messages — “dog whistles” — to manipulate Americans in the voting booth. One early example, Haney López says, is a story Ronald Reagan told on the campaign trail during his first run for president in 1976. Watch:

By playing on stereotypes, Reagan was able to get middle-class white voters to support economic policies that helped corporations and the wealthy. Haney López tells Bill, “Over the 1980s, the Reagan tax cuts transferred a trillion dollars to America’s top one percent. Yes, voters got the tax cuts they thought were aimed at cutting off undeserving minorities, but, in fact, it was a politics that was showering money on the very richest Americans.”

“We used to understand that the biggest threat in political life was the power of concentrated money… but now, Republicans for fifty years have been telling voters the biggest threat in your life is minorities are going to hijack government.”

Watch Bill’s conversation preview of Bill’s with Ian Haney López

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