No, my friends, we haven’t seen nothing yet. These last two weeks of the election season are going to be increasingly over the top. And no doubt John McCain welcomes Mr. Lundsford’s support, and Sarah Palin considers him one part of Pro-America America. They say patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. I say racists posing as patriots are scoundrels. Death threats against Acorn workers. Cowardly “white powder” letters sent to Obama campaign offices. Colin Powell all but called a racist by a well known white conservative radio host. More death threats for Obama and white powder letters sent to the LA Times. Another letter to comedian Bill Maher forcing the evacuation of the theater at which he was to appear. The drumbeat from the right that Obama doesn’t believe in the right kind of America. Nasty, duplicitous robocalls that Obama associates with terrorists.

There is a reason for this, of course. The McCain/Palin (or is it Palin/McCain?) campaign has gone all in on the strategy to ignore the issues and just smear Obama. And the racist tone of these tactics is apparent. America will never be free of the taint of racism, but there is no reason base one’s campaign on playing up racial divisions and hatreds. No reason unless, that is, you think stirring up such ugly emotions is your only shot to win the election. Here are the people McCain is trying to reach with his low road appeal to white bigotry:

… Behind the high pillars of the North Carolina Country Club in Raleigh there is agitation at the prospect of a black president. That Mr Obama was born to a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas makes it all the more intolerable for some. Thirty years ago, it would have been illegal for the couple to marry and live in Virginia under the state’s “misogyny” laws which banned mixed marriages.

Gary Pearce is a Democratic political consultant and a member of the elegant country club. He described how the air turns blue in the exercise room, as members young and old discuss the unwelcome prospect of an Obama victory. “They refer to black people as ‘them’,” he said, “and cannot conceive of a black president. One man, a stockbroker said, ‘I could never vote for that nigger’. It’s really shocking to hear such open prejudice among some of the most powerful people in the state. There are two important things some Southerners need to know about the Civil War:it’s over, and we lost.”

Nobody believes the racism instilled into generations of rural whites has gone away. “It’s still there,” said Charlene Williams a black businesswoman who moved from Chicago. “But instead of being a true-blooded Republican state, it has become a melting pot. But just because Jesse Helms has died does not mean those attitudes have gone.”

The McCain campaign has openly acknowledged they are going for the “narrow” electoral victory strategy. And their “get out the Vote” effort appears to be directly tied to the nastiness of the rhetoric they and their supporters are using. It’s a hate campaign. And win or lose, it will create deep divisions in the electorate, nbetween friends, neighbors and family members, all because McCain decided to go to to that dark place he promised he’d never go, that nexus of hate, fear, prejudice, distrust, racial division and animosity that has existed for hundred of years in this America.

Mr. Lundsford with his Obama effigy is merely a sign, an omen, a portent of what is to come. I wish I could believe that it will not explode into physical, and even deadly, violence, but in all honesty, I (and you as well, dear reader) would be naive to imagine that the hornet’s nest McCain and Palin have been kicking around since at least the Republican National Convention will ultimately lead to nothing but a small measure of rancid rhetoric and ill feeling. Words have consequences. We are already starting to see that with the physical assault on Ms. Takehara, an Obama canvasser, by a McCain supporter in Wisconsin. We are headed for far worse before this is over.

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