Dog-whistle politics, also known as the use of code words, is a type of political campaigning or speechmaking employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has a different or more specific meaning for a targeted subgroup of the audience. The term is usually used pejoratively by those that do not approve of the tactics. According to blogger Ian Welsh,
When you speak in code(...), most of the time the only people who hear and understand what you just said are the intended group, who have an understanding of the world and a use of words that is not shared by the majority of the population.
One group of American code words is claimed to appeal to racism of the intended audience. The phrase "states' rights", although literally referring to powers of individual state governments in the United States, has been described as a code word for institutionalized segregation and racism. Other terms that some people say are used to indicate alleged veiled racism are "crime in the streets" and "welfare queens".
President George W. Bush is claimed to use coded language in his speeches to send messages to his supporters among the religious right that will be ignored by other parts of the U.S. population. Examples include his frequent use of biblical phrases and the veiled mention of the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in the 2004 Presidential debates. The latter refers to overturning Roe v. Wade, which is likened to the Dred Scott case by some of its critics.
David Gergen claimed that the McCain campaign's tactics against Barack Obama as a dog whistle campaign targeting racists, while retaining plausible deniability.
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