The New Face of the RNC

If you haven’t heard, Michael Steele has been elected the new Chairman of the RNC.

I am not a fan of the two party system that is so common in the United States. But the election of Steele brings some interesting political drama and perhaps greater political hope.

Steele is liked by many African-Americans, he does not have the same drama surrounding him as as Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton – though his political journey is not void of some controversy – and he maintains socially conservative views while not being so politically conservative as to alienate progression. In short, his views are conservative, but he is better classified as centrist. It appears that he is a representation of the new Republican that the RNC wishes to promote.

The obvious critique is that Steele was chosen because of his skin tone. This may be true, but  that same argument can be applied to President Obama – Race-based election in a world that contains immense racial baggage is inevitable.  While race may have played a part in his election, Steele, a former Lt. Governor of Maryland,  more than qualifies for the position. Steele may have the ability to reshape the post-Bush Republican party as more compassionate, more bi-partisan, and more appealing to minorities.

It will be interesting to see what Steele can accomplish. His success may have a positive or negative correlation with Obama’s success. In one case, Steele may find success as Obama finds success. Steele can reach across party stereotypes and his moderate approach will perhaps be one echoed by Obama. If the centrist mantra of Obama continues it may equal a greater interest in the  Steele’s new republican party. Additionally, a the success of a Bi-racial president may help form a more positive public opinion of Black politicians. In another case, Steele may reap from Obama’s mistakes. Obama made some big campaign promises and has some huge tasks before him. Although Americans are voicing that they are willing to give him time, the American opinions isn’t always stable. If Obama doesn’t deliver, there is a chance that many of the moderate Americans that voted Democrat will shift to voting Republican (not only in 2012, but  depending on rhe American opinion, perhaps even in 2010). This is not solely because of Obama, but because the Democrats basically have control of Washington.  While this is hopeful for them, it is also a insecure place to be. For the Democrats, success may mean growth, but failure may mean lost hope.

Regardless of how things play out, Steele is in an interesting position. There is the possibility that he can start returning the Republican party to the that stood against slavery and against the the injustices of society or there is the possibility that he cannot turn the ship that has begun to deteriorate. While it is somewhat inconceivable to believe that that Steele will cause a significant contingency of African-Americans to convert to the Republican party, he does have the opportunity to change the landscape of American politics.


Some Thoughts and Beliefs of Steele

  • On the war in Iraq: “It is imperative we improve conditions on the
    ground so we can bring our troops home as quickly as possible and have
    the Iraqi people take control of their own destiny. At the same time,
    we should not publicly state a timetable for implementation. I do not
    support a ‘cut and run strategy.’ Any politician out there talking
    about timetables and timelines is playing into the hands of our enemies
    who have an enormous capacity to wait. It would be a disaster for us to
    cut and run, as it would destroy our credibility in the region for at
    least a generation. At the same time, it is the Iraqi’s themselves that
    will ultimately have to make democracy work in their country. We should
    stay there only long enough to give the Iraqi people the tools they
    need to secure the very democracy they voted for three times. After
    that, it’s up to them.”[44]
  • Energy policy: “To provide immediate relief for Marylanders, I have
    called on President Bush and Congress to enact an immediate moratorium
    on the federal gas tax – more than 18 cents per gallon – and an
    immediate moratorium on the 24 cents per gallon diesel tax. Moreover,
    Congress should approve legislation to suspend the tariff on ethanol
    imports. But those actions are designed to deal with our immediate
    crisis. Congress must roll up its sleeves and work to solve the
    underlying problem – our dependence on foreign sources of energy. To do
    that, I’ve called on Congress to double President Bush’s budget request
    for biomass and bio-refinery research, and create market and tax
    incentives for E85 fuels, hybrid technologies and alternative energy
    sources. Tax credits for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles need to
    be renewed and expanded. Additionally, we must increase fuel efficiency
    standards for automobiles – not just this year, but over the next
    several years.”[45]
  • The budget deficit: “Congress must also enact pro-growth policies
    that encourage the economy to expand: like making tax relief permanent
    and repealing the death tax. As we saw with the most recent deficit
    figures, a growing economy will in fact reduce the size of the budget
    deficit. In order to achieve optimal economic growth, Congress must
    adhere to sane spending guidelines while promoting smart policies
    devoted to growing businesses and creating jobs.”
  • Affirmative action: “Studies show enormous disparities still exist
    in education, healthcare, employment and economic opportunities along
    racial lines in the United States. I believe programs are still
    necessary to help close these divides. I support giving people
    opportunities. Programs must be fair to all Marylanders – of every
    color – and they should focus on economic empowerment.”[46]
  • On gay marriage: Steele has stated that he personally opposes a federal marriage amendment
    to ban same-sex marriage and believes that states should decide the
    issue for themselves but has indicated he would support it if elected
    RNC Chairman. He rates the issue of banning same-sex marriage low in
    importance. [47]
  • Stem cell research: “We have a lot to gain through furthering stem
    cell research, but medical breakthroughs should be fundamentally about
    saving, not destroying, human life. Therefore, I support stem cell
    research that does not destroy the embryo.”[48]
  • Health care: ” We need to increase access to health insurance
    through Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and high deductible policies, so
    individuals and families can purchase the insurance that’s best for
    them and meets their specific needs. . . . I support allowing small
    businesses to band together and compete for better insurance options. .
    . . To help increase our nation’s seniors access to affordable care, I
    have called to extend the sign up period for the Medicare Prescription
    Drug plan.”
    • colleen
    • February 16th, 2009

    I wonder if Steele was elected not for the color of his skin but the color that his skin wasn’t and I think there is a difference. I know that as a die-hard Republican I am tired of the image and reputation that our party has gotten, some earned and some not. But as with the pick of Palin as VP and now Steele (although I was partial to Ken Blackwell) I was glad that the RNC is moving beyond the “old white men” image. I think they picked him over Blackwell because he seems, as you said, more centrist whereas Blackwell was much more right of center.

    • That first line is a GREAT point. It is easy for someone to “because your (fill in the blank)” but perhaps more accurate to say “because you are not(fill in the blank)”. I don’t race was the most important factor, but it probably was significant. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Obama’s race was a variable in his election as was the race (and gender) of all of the white who were elected before. It is not hat we need to be color-blind we need to be fair in understanding the influence and importance we put on race. Thanks for the comments.

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