In new research, Francesco Barilari and Diego Zambiasi study how President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush’s rhetoric on the War on Drugs while on the campaign trail, particularly targeting crack cocaine abuse, was enough to alter policing policy. Specifically, the authors find that increased rhetoric led to an increase in arrests of Black Americans. Their study contributes to a literature on the material impact that political rhetoric can have on policing and public policy.
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