On dog whistle politics

Everyone, I'm going to do this on the cheap, because I want to leave time for a lot of other things I have to do, like getting away from the home and putting in some time in wilderness far from human beings and their COVID-19.

From the Wikipedia page for "Dog Whistle Politics":

Dog-whistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the population of the general public at large while also simultaneously having an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The analogy is to a dog whistle, whose ultrasonic tone is heard by dogs but inaudible to humans.

So when you are listening to, or reading, a particular speaker or writer on a particular topic, and they use a set of terms that identify them as a (D) attacking (R) people or as an (R) attacking (D) people, so for instance:

Republicans and conservatives: you all can move east of the Mississippi River, and you can have Oklahoma and Wyoming too. The rest of us will live in the other states. In 20 years when your economy has devolved into corporate slavery, and your environment has become a toxic waste dump, and your dismal literacy rates and low life-expectancy have you wondering if you made the wrong choice, you can glance over the river at our green, peaceful ideal world and content yourselves knowing that at least someone got it right.

Or on the other hand, from a thread demanding reopening:

More People are coming to realize that this whole mess has been utilized to push agendas that the neo-marxist cult have been trying, and failing, to implement over the past 30 years or more, hopefully many more will come to realize this as well, and the subversive (I would even say terrorist.) network will be exposed. I certainly don't want what happened to russia in 1917 re-happening here.

This is what politics has become, though. It's for the most part dog whistles. Listeners or readers have been duly trained to interpret your message according to what is typically called "selective listening," to try to figure out what your ideology and political-party affiliation is. There's no philosophy to it, and there's no practical sense of there being a problem in need of a solution. It's expression without communication. All of our friends who share our partisan affiliation will cheer us on, the opponents on the other side will respond with their own dog whistle politics, and we'll call it a "debate" when in fact nothing of the sort has happened.

What I'm suggesting, here, is that breaking through the facades of dog whistle politics is really our primary task-at-hand as political communicators.

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free is better
you go mighty far
and thanks

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

Granma's picture

@QMS a lot lately. I've been thinking about what questions to ask that will make people stop and think.
I had a birthday recently, and received calls from lots of family members. After good wishes, conversation went to current events. I didn't hear dog whistle stuff, but much that was untrue.
There has to be a way to talk with people that gets them to think a little. Nothing is accomplished by arguing. But it seems to me asking questions could be a way to break through whatever propaganda they have bought into.

I hope this is on topic. I don't want to hijack the discussion.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Granma & as I told mimi, I need better examples. As it stands my discussion here is that of tribal discourse, not of dog-whistle discourse in particular.

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"To ask how capitalism puts natures of all kinds to work is also to recognize capitalism’s pathology – and its exterminism." -- Jason W. Moore

@QMS

although personally, I'd go with the Long John Baldry version (1971)

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@Blue Republic

have to agree this is a better version
first I heard it.
Thanks!

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mimi's picture

what I felt is happening here on C99p.

I happened to have the unlikely experience (all just by poor luck and not intended) to visit and listen and watch folks, others usually haven't. Among others some what you call - I think - in English - native / aborigine / indigene small groups of humans, all with their own dialects, living not far from each other, but getting along - most of the time - as long as they keep polite distance.

I observed that those - tribal clans - all enjoyed using their native dialects - because they knew the next clan / tribe around their neighborhood, couldn't understand them. So, their dialect functioned a little bit as a code language to the next clan/tribe. Oh boy, it is just so much fun to talk in code. I saw a lot of those faces among them:
Mosking

I tried to explain that to myself and believe (more or less), that people WANT to create their tribes and/or clans, in order to create a home for themselves among friends, so that they can talk openly by using their code / dielact language. That allowes them to talk among each other without arousing dangerous tensions. Those tensions would otherwise for certain bubble up, if everybody would understand what the 'other side' really meant to say. So code language has some peace-keeping side effects as well.

I thought lately you can see the tendency here on C99p too. The conversations are lovely funny in a way. Sometimes the choice of music people post and love tells me more about them than their code language using hiding efforts... Wink

So many codes, so little understanding, hell, don't break into my code, people, it's all mine, mine ... I wanna tell some folks behind the curtains in the pm area, though I feel it's not what the purpose of the open public forum of this blog is supposedly all about.

Thanks for the essay. It was a good read in the morning. Smile

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Cassiodorus's picture

@mimi My examples are too blatant, not subtle enough.

But thank you!

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"To ask how capitalism puts natures of all kinds to work is also to recognize capitalism’s pathology – and its exterminism." -- Jason W. Moore

mimi's picture

@Cassiodorus

Sigh. Misunderstanding something, or not knowing why and what people say, or why they are dismayed about something I said, seems to happen to me too often.

Let's just say I don't understand many things around here, and I am more often puzzled.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@mimi I was just commenting about how I wrote this diary in a hurry, and picked examples that were ready-to-hand, and perhaps not the best ones.

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"To ask how capitalism puts natures of all kinds to work is also to recognize capitalism’s pathology – and its exterminism." -- Jason W. Moore

mimi's picture

@Cassiodorus

Dog-whistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the population of the general public at large while also simultaneously having an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The analogy is to a dog whistle, whose ultrasonic tone is heard by dogs but inaudible to humans.

... reminded me of how the dialects of small tribes function in a same manner and so I tried to describe that and talked about. Was a little far fetched but it just crossed my mind and memory.

Have a good day.

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but for politics, I ask questions. Mostly of people in the same economic strata as me. What has the (local, state, federal) government done for you, your kids, your family? Usually the answer is...... nothing...... "but!!!" the political spin comes in to play. Welfare queens, neo-nazis, blah blah blah. So what, if somebody stomps on "those people" how does that help you?

Then I point out the wealthier libdems and conreps get along fine . Same neighborhood of high class homes, same country club, kids go to some ritzy prep school together, then on to Harvard. They eyeroll each other about politics but hey, those tax cuts and IRS deductions are so sweet. Kumbayah!

Then us, we get to argue about what we need to cut from our kids school budget cause property taxes went up, juggling car payments, health care, child care and worrying about everything we care about. So, with our worries and problems, our answer is to fight about Trump or Obama? Neither one give a rats ass about us except to keep us in line.

I don't think it does much to change minds, but I would much prefer some actual "what's in it for me" ism than endless defense of Biden, Obama, Hilary or Trump.

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longtalldrink's picture

@Snode Usually the answer is...... nothing...... "but!!!" the political spin comes in to play.

I think it is because we (as others have amply noted) have a "team" mentality. I once knew a guy that had a hat for every NFL team stored away in his closet, that way he could always don the "winning" team's hat. Needless to say, when people heard of his hat collection, they were extremely angry. You have to pick a team, they would say, and stay with that team all through winning and losing. You were not allowed to be a "fair weather friend".

Some view politics in the same way...die with your chosen team, no matter if they are constant losers.

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Well done is better than well said-Ben Franklin

Shahryar's picture

this goes back to gjohnsit's essay the other day about the "lockdown protestors".

They are only superficially protesting a lockdown. They are actually hearing the dog whistle and protesting "libs". They are not protesting economic conditions. They are protesting "libs". They are not supporting anything other than "bashing libs". And that is why we can't join them on our preferred issue.

Besides, our economic injustice is different from theirs. Ours is "everyone deserves a fair chance, a fair shake, a fair wage". Theirs is....well, something else.

I write this having had experience talking to wingers.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Shahryar the ones I put into the end of the political interviews: 1) how would the world be if it could be as you want it to be? and 2) how could we bring such a world into being? Do you think those questions would reveal the Nutcase Pride festival-goers for who they were?

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"To ask how capitalism puts natures of all kinds to work is also to recognize capitalism’s pathology – and its exterminism." -- Jason W. Moore

Shahryar's picture

@Cassiodorus

I think most people would have a hard time articulating what their perfect world would be.

I'd love to hear/read what wingers would say. I'm going to ask my winger acquaintances and will report back.

And I'll do the same with my local Biden supporting friends. Obviously, if Biden got 67% this week I'm sure to find them on my block.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Shahryar the ideal world of some of them is probably the antebellum South...

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"To ask how capitalism puts natures of all kinds to work is also to recognize capitalism’s pathology – and its exterminism." -- Jason W. Moore

Cassiodorus's picture

@Shahryar it's good to remember that Biden's strength lies in them pretending Biden is someone he's not...

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"To ask how capitalism puts natures of all kinds to work is also to recognize capitalism’s pathology – and its exterminism." -- Jason W. Moore

Shahryar's picture

@Cassiodorus

so there are plenty of right leaning folks. I have no idea if they'll participate in this or if they'll get hostile right off the bat.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Shahryar Perhaps they all become millionaires, after which the perfect world appears as the sports fan's version of Cockaigne.

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"To ask how capitalism puts natures of all kinds to work is also to recognize capitalism’s pathology – and its exterminism." -- Jason W. Moore