So began a concerted effort by Nixon, and later Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, to divide the black and white working class, the groups with the most vested interest in social welfare programs. Using subtly race-infused language, Nixon shored up an army of white working class voters that railed against the perceived excesses of American liberalism by the “undeserving” (i.e., black) poor. In the 1990s, Clinton used the same rhetoric to justify passage of his welfare reform bill, which slashed benefits and criminalized the poor, taking aim specifically at poor people of color.
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