GOP Michael Steele: Uncle Tom’s Party
Michael Steele, the first African American elected to lead the Republican Party, declared in his acceptance speech that it was “time for something completely different.” Palling around with the elite of the Republican Party is okay if that is your idea of having a good time. After all, this is America. However, right or wrong, people judge you by the company you keep. I wonder if Michael Steele understands that.
When the Republican National Committee selected Mr. Steele as their Chairman last week it sparked a discussion of intent and credibility that is both shocking and embarrassing within many social and political quarters. The GOP has decided to entertain itself with a game of political Monkey in the Middle (no pun intended), as their strained factions hunker down in distinctly separate bastions. I have given up in my efforts to in any way chronicle or digest the many tangled threads that were once the Republican Party. I would like to think that Mr. Steele is a capable and well intentioned leader.
In a recent Washington Times article he talked passionately about outreach to women, blacks, hispanics and the need for Republicans to get their heads out of the clouds and out of the sand. Steele also offered his concern over the influence that religion is having on the party’s clear view of politics. In short, it seems that the Republican National Committee, in the attempt to map out the future of their party, is suggesting that changes are required. Mr. Steele has now become their agent for change.
Unfortunately for Steele and the GOP, on every other front, appearances are that change is the last thing that anybody in that party really wants. Large corporations, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and right wing Christians may all be waiting with bated breath for sweeping change under Mr. Steele’s glowing leadership. I haven’t heard any of them say so.
Aside from Steele’s selection, the only significant headlines from the GOP last week were related to partisanship and racism. The Republicans in the House of Representatives responded to the President’s efforts to make concessions and an effort reach out to them on the stimulus plan with an historic 100% no vote. Two of Mr. Steele’s esteemed colleagues and competitors for the chairmanship of the RNC made headlines. One was headlined for having been a member of an all white country club, from which he only just resigned, and the other having circulated a music CD of a song entitled ‘Barack the Magic Negro’. If this is the basis from which Mr. Steele must commence the business of reaching out and cultivating a more diverse constituency, he has major problems and an embarrassing plight as well.
But what is it that he seeing? What is it about him that unto itself, would make being a Republican the least bit more palatable to a broader swath of voters? I don’t know about the women, blacks and hispanics that Mr. Steele plans to reach out to, but I do know that I don’t have any interest in aligning myself with people, as in the case of his high level RNC colleagues, who orchestrate the music of continued political partisanship, intolerance and racism. Clearly these stains are not embossed on every Republican in America. The problem is nothing about the party image or brand that says so. There is no welcome mat.
History has shown Americans that the Republican Party has been that of wealth and privilege for at least 30 years and that there is nothing that one could point to which suggests they have offered any measure of support for people of color or the American middle class. So now in a panic, they have decided to bring forth a token black guy in the hopes of engineering some sort of ‘coup de colures‘. In the past they have always been able to find one willing to do their bidding.
Mr. Steele is not and he will never be the real face of Republican Party leadership. The party has many faces of prominence, but none of them are black. The familiar faces and associated names are well known. Sadly, even non-politicians, irascible pundits such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, possess more significant levels of influence over conservative voters. This is not a national scale of acceptance that Steele could ever hope to gain.
‘Ole what’s her name’, galvanized a well defined Republican base during her run as John McCain’s sidekick. She molded that base into a hardened nucleus and regaling the visions of her rallies, there was a very intense passion and energy among her supporters. Among them, she is a rising star. If they have their way she will unquestionably be their standard bearer in 2012. There are only two problems with that. Her well-honed base is both an aging demographic as well as a socially rigid group that is overtly unwelcoming where matters of diversity and even moderate policy matters are concerned. Secondly, and more importantly, this passionate base has been rendered competitively and unsubstantial politically, due to its dwindling membership. The bulk of what remains of the party is the ‘Double Duce Club’. These are the 22 percent (W’s final approval rating) who stood by the former President to the end. Those right wing patriots watched their party run this nation into the ground economically and otherwise with impunity for the past eight years.
Desperation is the companion of futility. We have seen this before and recently! Recall what happened when Senator John McCain, in dire straits at the time, gambled by selecting ‘ole what’s her name‘ to be his Vice Presidential running mate. The bottom dropped out.
In retrospect, exactly what is it that Mr. Steele expected to do? The answer is simple. He has been initiated to sell some good old-fashioned Republican snake oil. After Michael Steele has allowed the GOP to use him like a twenty dollar whore, he can take his place among the likes of J. C. Watts and Alan Keyes. The late great black pawns that the GOP has used and cast aside no longer possess any political capital, but must endure scarred public images in perpetuity for their brief effort at prominence. What Mr. Steele has accomplished is reckless and self serving. He has accepted the responsibility to do what is socially regressive, distasteful and impossible. He has known all along that with the office comes some measure of personal wealth and recognition for having reached his dubious pinnacle. He stands before the nation, asking with open arms that voters of different strains join him as members of a political party that is fractured at best and which represents the worst of all things that now plague America. Steele is inviting us to supper with Satan. He is asking that we join him among the racists, war mongers, homophobes and theocrats…oh yes, and the thieves that have looted the Treasury and financial capital of the nation. He is asking us to do this simply because he has a warm comforting smile, a black face and because they told him to.
American politics is a platform for choice which affords us the opportunity to align ourselves with that which we individually espouse. I understand such concepts as small government and fiscal conservatism which are major cornerstones of the Republican philosophy. But we know, and they themselves acknowledge, that the GOP has been pulled from the path that would lead their constituents back to their collective political comfort zone. That is because there no longer remains a collective political comfort zone under the umbrella of the GOP. A good front man, regardless of color, is not an effective mask for a political Frankenstein.
Michael Steele may be overly ambitious and suffering with a touch of the Roland Burris syndrome. Perhaps he is a self-envisioned ‘trail blazer’ who wants to be the first black anything, no matter how deceitfully it is served up. Perhaps he is a ruthless political monster who sold his soul. Given the carnage that the Republican Party has wrought, the latter seems more logical. After all, America’s people of vast diversity do realize that there is a Republican party. We have known all along that Steele and comparatively few others of color and modest prominence reside on that side of the political landscape. What we have been wondering is…why?
I have never read the Harriet Beecher Stowe classic. No matter how the GOP dresses it up, I have no desire to live it. No. You won’t find me palling around with the likes of Michael Steele. ~ Leon Walker