The Era of Dog Whistles Is Now Over


Steve Benen makes a useful point today about Donald Trump’s brass-balled religious bigotry:

Jeb Bush told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd yesterday that the Trump campaign is relying on “dog-whistle proposals to prey on people’s fears.” That’s half-right — Trump is clearly preying on people’s fears, but these aren’t “dog-whistle proposals”; they’re the exact opposite. The whole point of dog-whistle politics is subtlety and coded language. Trump’s racism, however, is explicit and overt. “So what? They’re Muslim” is less of a dog whistle and more of a bullhorn.

Even Jesse Helms felt it necessary to talk about the “bloc vote”—wink wink, nudge nudge. In other contexts, candidates will use phrases familiar to evangelicals, or terms of art specific to deep knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or academese with a very specific meaning only to those in the know. Trump isn’t bothering with any of that. He thinks Muslims are all potential terrorists and he’s saying it just as loudly and as clearly as he can.

And guess what? It turns out that maybe you don’t need dog whistles after all. Republicans don’t need them because their base turns out to be pretty tolerant of outright bigotry. Democrats don’t need them because Republicans will just make up dog whistles of their own if they miss the meaning of the real ones (Agenda 21, hockey stick, etc.).

We should all hail our new era of two-fisted politics. Finally, we can just say all the stuff we’ve been holding back for so long. Doesn’t that sound great?

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