Based on the Preface, Introduction, and Chapters 1-4 of Ian Haney López's Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class How did George...

Based on the Preface, Introduction, and Chapters 1-4 of Ian Haney López's Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

How did George Wallace change his political strategy from the 1950s into the early 1960s when running for governor? What his political strategy when running for president in the 1960s and 1970s?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Wallace changed his political strategy of the 1950's after losing the race for governor. At that time he was considered a racial moderate, who, if anything, leaned toward the liberal side. But, after his opponent defeated him, Wallace realized that he had been defeated because of underlying racial preferences that his opponent supported.

After his defeat in 1958 for the position of Governor of Alabama, Wallace sat for a long time in his car, chewing his cigar and pondering his loss. He had been supported by the NAACP while his opponent was backed by the KKK. But, the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional, caused many of the citizens of Alabama, who perceived Wallace to be soft on the race issue, to vote against him. Realizing the reason for his defeat, Wallace vowed that no one "will ever out-n****r me again." So, four years later, he ran as a racial reactionary in the gubernatorial race. With this persona, then, Governor Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama as he declared, "Segregation now, segregation forever!" even though he knew he would allow the African-American students to enter the university two hours later. He was simply using "dog whistle politics." For, hundreds of letters flooded the governor's office, applauding his actions. Ninety-five per cent of these letters praised Wallace's stand.

After receiving these letters from all over the country, Wallace realized that he had tapped into a fear that was spread throughout the nation. So, in his presidential run in 1968 as a candidate for the American Independent Party, Wallace appealed to blue-collar workers and those who were anti-federal government control and more for "states' rights." Also, he offered generous increases for beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare, and he declared that if the Vietnam Conflict were not winnable in 90 days, it would be ended.

In 1972 as he ran for president, Wallace was more radical and more explicit about his opposition to his opponents as he declared, "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats," implying that both wanted to radically desegregate the South (dog whistle politics). Wallace received more support from extremist groups during this campaign.