Arts and Sciences
How do politicians, particularly presidential candidates, talk about race without talking about race? Since the 1960s, race baiting in American politics has gone increasingly underground into the realm of "coded language" and dog-whistle rhetoric; that was until 2016 when the election of Donald Trump brought much of this conversation from the covert and into the over. The old codes were not gone, but they seemingly meant less. Through an examination of campaign ads and convention speeches from the elections of 1968, 1988, and 2008, this paper explores the history of coded language to provide a partial explanation of what made President Trump's rhetoric so powerful. This paper incorporates two intermediate theses to illustrate its ultimate thesis. First, that as times change race baiting language must also change in order to incite the greatest following from backlash voters. Second, that this language must occur alongside social turmoil and anxiety amongst the backlash electorate. These two theses come together to generate an ultimate thesis that Trump took years of coded practices, broke many of them, and played to backlash voters fears of outsiders, particularly Muslims and Latinos.
Bruno, Adam, "Coded Language: The History, the Message, and 2016" (2017). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 659.