Dog whistles, deficits and racist politics behind pay as you go rules in Congress

Dog whistles, deficits and racist politics behind pay as you go rules in Congress

A man walks past the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 26, 2021.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

In the aftermath of the civil rights movement and the Great Society, opponents of the postwar welfare state found themselves in a new position: federal social programs, which under the New Deal had been largely reserved for whites. , were now more widely extended to blacks by the legislation of the Great Society.

This provided a powerful means of turning white public opinion against such social programs, allowing opponents to play on the (albeit unfounded) perception that these programs primarily served blacks. Yet, thanks to the civil rights movement, it was no longer socially acceptable to make explicit calls for racism.

To thread that needle, the effort to systematically dismantle our federal social programs would turn to coded racist political messages, known as “dog whistles,” to lure white voters as taxpayers.

This militarization of the racist dog whistle policy has had a profound impact on American society and continues to define our political discourse and public institutions in an underrated way that Democrats would do well to confront when they take power. .

The Great Depression achieved a historic feat in that it legitimized federal social programs and higher tax rates. But by the time the civil rights movement drove racist political rhetoric that was open to “going underground,” the memory of the depression had grown far enough away for opponents of the “big government” to begin …

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