Dog whistle (politics)

In politics, a dog whistle is the use of coded or suggestive language in political messaging to garner support from a particular group without provoking opposition. The concept is named for ultrasonic dog whistles used in shepherding, which are audible to dogs but not humans. Accusations of dog whistling are, by their nature, hard to prove and may be false.

Dog whistles use language that appears normal to the majority but communicate specific things to intended audiences. They are generally used to convey messages on issues likely to provoke controversy without attracting negative attention. One example may be the use of a phrase such as family values to signal to Christians that a candidate would support policies promoting Christian values without alienating non-Christian supporters.[1] Another may be the use of the phrase "international bankers" to signal to racists that a candidate is antisemitic without alienating non-racist supporters.[2] On parties that support abortion, the phrase reproductive rights is preferred to avoid turning off any pro-Life ally.