Organization Trends

Neera Tanden’s Own “Dog Whistle”

On the morning of New Year’s Eve Day, Center for American Progress (CAP) president and CEO Neera Tanden sent out an end-of-year fundraising e-mail—quite a common thing to do for any nonprofit organization, whether policy-oriented or not, or conservative or liberal. CAP, as reported by, was created to be a liberal alternative to conservative think tanks.

But Tanden’s e-mail curiously ends with an urgent plea to “reclaim our country on behalf of the progressive movement.” The e-mail’s full text is below (emphasis in original).

Wait a minute: “reclaim our country”? When similar language—“take our country back,” “make America great again,” or other variants—has been used by conservatives, liberals declare such exhortations to be racist “dog whistles” for which the conservative utterer should be held sternly accountable. (See here and here, for example—the latter link is from CAP’s own ThinkProgress website.)

Tanden herself has used the “dog-whistle” slur against Trump.

So, just what do CAP and Tanden actually mean with their own version of this “whistle”? Perhaps they should be held to account for it.

Dear _____,

Last week, President Donald Trump and his allies celebrated their signature achievement for 2017: a sweeping new law that radically rewrites our nation’s tax system and further rigs our economy in favor of the superrich.

They could’ve focused their time on providing long-term stability to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which supports nearly 9 million kids from families that are struggling and striving. Funding for CHIP expired back in September, sending people into panic about what the future might hold.

Instead, the president made it his priority to pass a tax bill that violates every promise he made to working class Americans. By 2019, more than half of its tax breaks will wind up in the pockets of the richest 5 percent of households, while members of the top 1 percent will receive an average tax cut that equals what most people earn in a year. And stunningly, because of this law, more than 90 million working- and middle-class families will eventually see an increase in their taxes.

We cannot let this stand. Progressives must hold conservatives accountable for their shameful attempts to enrich the big corporations and billionaires who bankroll their agenda at the expense of everyone. And we’ve already seen that the tide is beginning to turn against the president and his allies in communities throughout America.

We at the Center for American Progress will keep fighting with everything we’ve got to take on the Trump agenda. But we can’t do it alone.

I hope you’ll join our mission today. Let’s reclaim our country on behalf of the progressive movement.

Thank you,

Neera Tanden
President and CEO

Michael E. Hartmann

Hartmann is senior fellow and director of the Center for Strategic Giving at the Capital Research Center. For more than 18 years, he served on the program staff of The…
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