Racism, socialism, Ashley the Todd, Joe Plumber blahblahblah

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Thanks to everyone who sent me clips of McCain folks acting a fool at rallies and evidence of McCain campaign race-baiting. I know I haven't talking much about Ashley Tood, and Sammy Davis and welfare lately. I was outraged for awhile and now I'm just kinda "meh" about the whole thing. Part of it is because I think Obama is going to win. But the other part is that something about it just feels petty. There are white racists among the American electorate, and the lionshare of them are supporting McCain. OK, now what?

Anyway,  there's been a pretty lively debate raging between Yglesias, Douthat, Judis and Feeny. It'll probably come as no surprise that I mostly agree with Douthat, if with a significant twist. It's not that I put it past McCain's people to race-bait, it's that I really don't care.  I basically think it's to our disadvantage to ascribe mystical powers to words like "welfare" and "socialism." True, I've done my share of indicting. But, I really believe that the first step in garnering the votes of any group of people, is to see them human beings with all the complexities and myriad emotions weighing on them that actual people have.

This is why I think Barack Obama will ultimately prevail. McCain's whole style is crude--vote for me if you like beefy white guys with bald heads who talk tough. Vote for me if you hate socialists. Vote for me if you think Northern Virginia is a colony of the French. Vote for me if you hate welfare. Perhaps I am giving the voters too much credit, but I just think in these economic times, in this hip-hop era, with these two campaigns, the people are paying attention. Again, that doesn't mean that the McCain's aren't race-baiting. I guess I'm just stuck on "How would I know and why do I care?"

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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