This week on Moyers & Company, Bill continues his conversation with author and legal scholar Ian Haney López about dog whistle politics – code words that use race to turn Americans against each other.
Politicians manipulate deep prejudice to rouse hostility against minorities and the government, according to Haney López, and summon support for policies that make economic inequality even worse. And it’s not just Republicans and the tea party who have used this “strategic racism” to win votes, but Democrats as well.
“Democrats have understood, even as early as 1970, [that] race was gonna be an effective wedge issue against them. And when the Democrats responded they responded not by contesting that politics but instead by embracing it. And this is part of the story of dog-whistle politics — Republicans shift right and the Democrats have tracked rightward, following them,” Haney López tells Moyers.
The two also discuss dog whistling and the debate over food stamps, the presidency of Barack Obama and the rise of the tea party, as well as the origins of this election strategy. Haney López also tells Bill that he expects the racial provocations will evolve to target members of the Latino and Asian communities in the coming years.