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Michael Steele Wins! Now What?

The Republican National Committee went with former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele as fundraiser-in-chief and (for now) the de facto leader of the Republican Party Friday, becoming the first African American to hold the post.

Steele beat South Carolina GOP chief Katon Dawson, who had to quit his alleged “white’s-only” country club to stay in the running, after six rounds of voting. So what shall we call this? Watershed moment? Window dressing? Political plagiarism? (Wow. There’s a lot of Negro firsts going around this political season!) Who knows? But Steele, a black Republican out of a largely Democratic state, a moderate conservative with staunch, Catholic bona fides, but not much in the way of NRA support, is now the big enchillada at the RNC.

Change is a-comin’!

Princeton University Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell went on Rachel Maddow’s show Friday night arguing that Michael Steele’s election wasn’t so much about the Republican Party wanting to reach out to minorities, but to reach out symbolically to whites who didn’t want to be associated with a party that is perceived as monochromic. (Re: Once you get saddled with the “racist” stigma, it’s pretty hard to shake.)

Former brother-in-law of Steele, Mike Tyson, jumped on the Steele for Senate bandwagon. Who knew that the endorsement of a convicted rapist with a face tattoo couldn’t win over the black masses.I tend to agree with Harris-Lacewell’s assessment, being that at least once a month I’m inundated with some rebuke of the flawed Democratic Party and its seemingly cozy relationship with blacks. In these notes I am “educated” that the Republican Party was originally the party of abolition and Lincoln, ignoring the huge hit the Republicans took in the handling of the stock market collapse of the 1930s, when more and more blacks started voting as populists during FDR’s administration. They later went solidly Democratic after the Democrats distanced themselves of their racist past via one Civil Rights Movement and the push of President Lyndon Johnson’s Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act, Great Society Plan and use of state troopers to integrate schools. For this change in beliefs, the Dems lost the South for the next forty years (as LBJ predicted) and the Dems became a hodge-podge party of inclusion.

One can ignore the fact that black people vote on issues if you’d like. You can believe that someone as skeevy as Sen. Harry Reid put the voodoo on all of us, but if blacks started voting Democratic during the 1940s when FDR wasn’t exactly known as a lover of the brown peoples of America (I believe he once referred to the black contemporaries of his wife as “Eleanor’s niggers”) that should tell you something about our ability to separate policy from people.

This is truly no different than the many Southern whites who had historically voted Democratic as they too were populists, but fled to the Republican Party after the federal government decided to send some troops down to end that whole “separate but equal” deal and ram equality and integration down their throats.

And you’d have to ignore the fact that nearly all the defectors from the Democratic Party post the passage of the Civil Rights Act tried to form their own party, the failed Dixicrats, before joining the Republicans as part of the larger “Southern Strategy.”

So, yeah, if you just ignore the last sixty years of American political history, I guess you can keep making the argument that the Democrats’ dark racist past makes them worse than the party that had a guy who was a member of a whites-only club as Steele’s main competition (IN 2009!), and before that, a guy pimping the ditties “Barack the Magic Negro” and “Star-Spanglish Banner.”

Big tent party, my ass!

It’s not that black people love Democrats. I mean, have you ever visited St. Louis? Have you asked a Negro how they feel about Dem. Mayor Francis Slay?

No one also seriously believes that all white Democrats love black people — although, they’ll proudly cling to the “I can’t be racist, I’m a Liberal” mantra even when they’re being patently racist, like it’s an immunity cloak. That is a common mistake outsiders make. Blacks, like all groups, vote their interests. You could argue that financially, it made no sense for Southerners to abandon the populist-lead Democratic Party who had served them well when they had been pro-Populist for decades. But once the culture wars took prominence over the class wars, choosing the conservatives was a no-brainer. They voted the issues. Not the brand.

So we ask, does the election of Steele change the brand?

No.

But it does give it something new and exciting to talk about after a year where the only bright spot (or malignant spot depending on which conservative intelligentsia you ask — Kathleen Parker!) was veep nominee Sarah Palin’s Alaskan pluck. This could cause some soul-searching. Or this could be color-coded rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Pat Buchanan, my favorite bigot, quite famously argued in his most jerky way that the conservatives had tried to get the black vote and lost it — and didn’t give two shits. That he’d accepted that the Latinos in the Southwest would progressively grow more Democratic. He didn’t care. He was holding fast to the belief that the Republicans needed to hold even faster to their conservative principles and representation of the North American white middle class Christian (mixed with some anti-globalization, protectionist policies), rather than mimic the Dems “big tent/big fight” structure of competing minority groups, women and union members.

He, to the face of a black conservative Mike Paul, quite loudly told him that he did not know why some blacks vote Republican, but if they do, great. But he wasn’t going to change a DAMN THING to get those votes.

Steele, as I said before, is not some happy bigot nutter like Pat. He’s reasonable. He’s intelligent. He once considered being a priest. But he’s also a wily politician. When he ran for senate in Maryland he scarely mentioned he was a Republican and quite brazenly used banners that read “Steele Democrats” at rallies. The implication was that Democrats were voting for Steele, but he lost the bid, badly. And he lost the black vote by even more.

It is the issues. Not the window dressing.

One can bring up former Klansman/Highlander candidate, Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd as proof of the Democrats’ sins, but what does it say about Byrd, A FORMER KLANSMAN, who chose to stick with a party that became increasingly more accepting of black people, resembled less and less the party he joined as a young man, electing black candidates, putting blacks in charge of committees and even supporting Barack Obama for president when as a senator from West Virginia Byrd could have made the switch right along with his former colleague Strom Thurmon years ago and no one would have faulted him.

But he didn’t. Obviously, populism trumped race for Byrd. He sucked it up and accepted that the times had changed.

Others did not.

And that is why there is such a divide.

This isn’t about what Republicans did in 1864. It’s about what Republicans are doing now. I’d hope that they will become more supportive of minorities running for elective office, not pulling a JC Watts where you get lawfully and popularly elected only to wind up fighting not only the Congressional Black Caucus, but House Rep. Tom Delay, fellow Republican, who preferred a pro-abortion, female candidate over the anti-abortion, loyal conservative Watts for … who knows? I’m going to go with the fact that Watts is appreciated as a token. Not respected as a mover and shaker.

And that’s the problem. Black people aren’t blind. The Democratic Party is flawed, but if you have a choice between a flawed party where you can get elected and get support versus a party who won’t even let you touch a committee once you defy the odds to get to Congress, where your best bet is an appointment, not a popular vote — you have a problem.

Democrats aren’t fooling black people. Republicans aren’t fooling black people. Give us a party of inclusiveness, with movement for advancement, with a populist undercurrent and pro-Civil Rights stances (mixed with some fight for social justice) and you will get bundles upon bundles of black votes.

No one is putting the hoo-doo on anybody. And neither will Steele. He will represent a watershed moment. The important question will be — will Steele be respected as a true influence and leader in the party or will he find himself marginalized by individuals who only want him as a symbol of progress, not actual progress?

Or, as Rush Limbaugh said succinctly, just another dude-in-waiting as this is Sarah Palin’s America we’re living in and we’re all just squirrels in a world trying to get a tax cut.

But to congratulate Steele, I’d like to serenade his victory with a tweaked rendition one of my favorite ditties by a Mr. Chuck Berry of St. Louis, Mo., a man of my hometown:

It was an RNC election, and the old folks wished them well
You could see that Steele did truly sieze the Republican mantel
And now the young moderate and the old battle axes have rung the bell,
“C’est la vie,” say the GOP, it goes to show you never can tell

(Source: “You Never Can Tell,” Chuck Berry)

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31 thoughts on “Michael Steele Wins! Now What?

  1. Hollinsprincess says:

    I’ve been refreshing your blog all day waiting for this! I just got in an agrument with someone about this — and you have articulated everything I feel. I ❤ The Snob!

  2. RainaHavock says:

    Just what I wanted to hear. That’s exactly why I prefer the democrats over the republicans. It’s like "what have you done for me lately?" Also the Democrats really have issues that I agree with more than I have ever done with a Republican.

  3. halfmoon circle says:

    I too have been waiting for this. I’m not going to disagree with you(Suprise). I think you’re spot on about why blacks vote democratic. The squirrell trying to get a tax cut line was truly classic. I’ve noticed an underlying theme in some of your posts. Is this truly a breakthrough, or just a flavor of the week kind of thing? Are blacks finally going to be across the board included or are they still a niche? If I’m right about this than I want to ask this. Is this renaissance of black activism going to rise and fall with Obama? You’re right blacks have their own agenda(for the most part) but isn’t this going to change? Doesn’t it have to? I don’t think there are that many cultural differences between former democratic now republican populist southern whites and stalwart democrat blacks. Isn’t it possible that the black vote will naturally dissipate in a truly inclusive Obama era? Will they fall into other socio-economic or value voting segments. Do you even think it’s possible? I listened to your NPR piece(it had OJ Simpson in the Title) and I agree with you about Obama becoming an Icon after Iowa. He won an all-white state, an impossiblity according to black conventional wisdom. But, putting down the pessimism for just one second, if color lines are now at least blurred will he recieve the irreproachable support of black america in the way other leaders have. If he does, and he is percieved to fail, what does that mean? What if this activism does rise and fall with Obama? That would truly be a sad thing.Anyway, about Steele. The most interesting part to me was his mentioning going back into the northeast. I suppose the Rovian strategy of attacking your opponent strength’s isn’t dead yet. If you go back to our Palin conversation I did bring him up. Just sayin. Right guy, wrong group. I don’t think the idea of him being a puppet head for old white dude’s cloaking their deep seated racism is plausible. Say what you will, You brought up that Buchanan bit again. He very clumsily touched on what a lot of conservatives have been saying, they can’t change their core beliefs based on demography. They are going to have to sell it, because they can’t change it. This is I think the Litmus test for those that pay attention to it. If in 2010 Republicans mount a comeback, they don’t even have to get majorities just win seats, Michael Steele will be the real deal. I don’t think that we will see the black vote jumping ship even in the event of Catastrophic Obama failure but a vibrant and inclusive GOP could get a sizable chunk of minorites in either enviroment. But if Steele fails, the stay in the wilderness just got a little longer.

  4. Ericka says:

    You are absolutely right! It’s not that we Black folk have a love affair with the Dems. In fact, most of us don’t trust ANY politician as far as we can throw them (current POTUS notwithstanding). But the Repugnantcans are awfully brazen about not giving a damn about us or our issues, so why should we give a damn whether or not they feel loved. After all these years, they STILL don’t get it. Then again, they aren’t trying to get it anyway.

  5. Danielle Belton says:

    @ halfmoonIf by magic race could be removed from the equation, most poor and middle class blacks and whites would largely vote the same. We have similar problems and similar interests, but keeping us apart has been the modus operandi of the ruling class since we got off the boat as indentured servants.Seriously, the class war ramifications of whites and blacks making below $40,000 a year for a family of four with all that Jesus flying around would scare the shit out of the aristocrats. Just as it made no sense for poor whites to die for the Confederacy (they were getting SCREWED with that whole "free labor keeping wages down.") But someone told them being white made them special so they we were willing to pit people with nothing versus people with even less)Part of the reason why Palin became such a folk hero is because she represented a new form of conservative populism, which would be popular with many blacks IF it weren’t for all the "paling around with terrorists" and that strong whiff of you’re not invited to our shindig. If anything, that is the bigger fear for the ruling class. Not so much that Palin will lead the conservative populist revival, but that the conservative populist revival is coming with or without her. Christian conservatives who watched their jobs leave to other countries and feel used by the big money players in the party are two steps from going Barry Goldwater on everyone. If the change Obama has wrought is lasting, if this is part of a larger movement towards equality and a normalization of black life in America it is only natural that blacks will begin to break politically and ideologically the same way other groups have. We "appear" to be monolithic out of necessity. But we know that there has always been a segment of the black population that has found it hard to relate to the other half. This goes pretty deep, although the most obvious example of it that comes to mind is DuBois "Talented Tenth" and his debate with Booker T. Washington over whether higher education or hard, blue collar work would save the Negro race.I’m black, but because of where and how I was raised there are entire segments of black people I have almost nothing in common with but skin tone. But protection comes in numbers when you are a historically persecuted minority. Yet you already have members of the black middle and upper middle class resentful and embarrassed of their poorer brethren and have little to nothing to do with them. They feel no need to live up to DuBois’ lofty, albeit arrogant, goals. Would like it if the ghetto would simply roll up and disappear.I still have a "we’re all in this together" mentality, even if we disagree. (I feel there should be room for debate in our community even though there tends to be resistance to that.)But back to populism for a moment — a lot of Americans, Liberal and conservative, are populists. Pat Buchanan is a populist. (That’s why he loves Sarah Palin so.) Usually the people who have disdain for the populist movement are the wealthy, Libertarians, and aristocrats because they view it as class warfare. And we all know class warfare is frightening to them. Even though no one is alive to remember the French Revolution, the last thing they need is a voter uprising of the middle class over the inequities in our society, black and white joined by a common cause of feeling screwed by an unjust system. Culture wars and race squabbles keep everyone to preoccupied until you look up one day and your economy is completely trashed.Steele is fascinating to me in a way because just this summer he was belligerent and angry over the dearth of blacks and minorities at this summer’s RNC convention. He was not towing the party line with a pretty plastic smile (like Ken Blackwell) and I thought he was two steps from pulling a JC Watts and just walking away from it all, making a life as a pundit and businessman. There tends to be a misconception that all black Republicans are toadies, but many of them are just as ambitious as the Deval Patricks and Barack Obamas of the world, but are trapped in the same system that once kept blacks down in the Democratic Party when we were drawn to their populism, but rejected for our skin tone.Steele and the like are drawn to the social conservatism, but can’t get over the hump. Now that Steele has this position it will be interesting to see how serious anyone is about giving Steele real power in changing the course of the party because, believe me, a man who dreamed of being the first black Republican senator elected since Edward William Brooke III wants to run shit. But being that he has been a member of the party for a while, he must also know that the cock block IS COMING. Who will initiate it? I don’t know. But Steele needs to have some people in power to have is back to make sure he doesn’t become another pretty brown face in the crowd, acting as a self-esteem boost for a party entrenched in its core beliefs.As for black activism via Obama, on the Dem side I think it will actually continue to grow. The boom was starting the same time Obama was entering politics, that period after Jesse’s first run for president which lead to an unprecedented amount of blacks being elected to the House of Reps. I think if nothing else, his political activism will have a long lasting effect on our youth who will no longer see politics as something beyond their reach. So for the Dems, black involvement will probably only get stronger. We don’t just have Obama, but Deval Patrick as gov. of Massachusetts. Michael Nutter as Mayor of Philadelphia, etc. A host of aspirants and future male and female Obamas-in-waiting and the first generation of blacks who no longer are lying when they say their kids could grow up and be president of the United States.That was huge.So the Republicans have some serious catching up to do because that excitement alone is enough to keep many blacks and the Dems sewn at the hip for decades to come. It might be near pointless as long as Obama is in the picture.The key is advancement. As long as blacks can keep getting elected to the House and statewide offices within the Democratic Party, coupled with Obama’s possible success as president, the movement will continue, in my opinion.Black Republicans have a harder task, because many of them, for their tough social stances, may find their children simply being "Blue Dog" Democrats. Keeping the social conservative bona fides, but latching on to the populist platform and social justice issues of the Dem Party.Heck. That was part of the problem why the black vote was even lower than usual in this election. Many black Republicans voted for Obama anyway because despite political differences they could relate to his background and admired his self-determination. He was their dream too. He just had the wrong political affiliation and philosophy. They wanted Colin Powell. This was the closest to Colin they were ever going to get.

  6. Carrie says:

    I guess the RNC also didn’t care that Michael Steele’s sister, before she married Mike Tyson, was involved with Rayful Edmond, the notorious DC drug dealer. Whoops…

  7. Knoxus says:

    I am a Black Republican and I’m not ashamed of it.I too have realize how out of synch I am with other blacks on many issues.I am conservative – about fiscal spending and government involvement in public life.I say no to big government but acknowledge when issues demand more responsibility.Blacks will never get elected as long as they limit their political participation to commentary and the ocassional ballot. When ignored by conscientious people…the only blacks in government become mainly tokens and arrogant crooks who go unchallenged.I hope this brings an era when young black professionals stand up for their principles.Being raised down south gave me an appreciation for people that will look you in the eye and tell you they don’t like the color of your skin (which means you don’t win points just for being black) vs. saying what a great friend you are but never invite you to their house (which means you are helping them fill their minority friend quota). If there is one thing a politican can’t ignore its a vote..and the umbrella politics of the dem party make it increasingly impossible for any section to stand out. I think this will be a great time for blacks to raise their stature in the party and show that we care about where this country is going and not just because there’s a black man in the white house.

  8. halfmoon circle says:

    Conventional wisdom is on your side when it comes to democrats and the black vote. But without the threat of token isolation and no glass ceiling what is keeping the black vote from falling for an "amnesty, acid and abortion" style campaign? The’ve already got two thirds of the "gods, guns and gays" schtick built in( and outside of urban areas, I would argue guns). I’m not trying to be inflammatory but ’08 was about race in many ways. It’s hard to win re-election on a change campaign. At some point, Obama and whatever young black office holders have used his coattails are going to have to argue their accomplishments and not someone else’s failure( I know of, but am not familiar with Nutter however Patrick isn’t having a good run of it from what I hear and Adrien Fenty is a given, it’s in DC for god’s sake). The over arching description of the DNC is not the black party and I doubt it ever will be. If the stain of America’s past is really beginning to fade (time will tell) I think the paradigm could shift in unexpected ways. I guess I’m playing my hand here, I usually think conservatives have better ideas. And if one doesn’t have to consider their own complexion when voting I think the outcome might be different.But, in all likelyhood, it’s way in the futue if it ever happens.

  9. Danielle Belton says:

    @ halfmoon The main issues that have trumped most others for blacks have been social justice, civil rights and economics (re: populism). It’s only natural that if things progress fairly that you’d have more diversity of thought and a splitting of the vote. But race would have to diminish greatly as a dividing issue between blacks and whites to get to that point.As for Patrick, Nutter and others, as well as the blacks who already make up various political positions statewide and in the House, those individuals all pre-dated Obama. Obama was more of a result of what started back in the 1960s than the cause of it. If you grow your party in the black community and do voter outreach over forty years you’re going to build up a base. Obama benefited from a platform that had been decades in the making.I don’t expect blacks to ever "take over" any party. The country is becoming more diverse, but blacks are unlikely to become a large enough majority to supersede any other minority groups. The most likely thing to happen is that as long as the Democratic platform remains inclusive and attuned to certain issues that affect African Americans they are going to have blacks playing a large roll in the political process.This was one of Steele’s points. That it didn’t make sense for the Republicans to come off as a party filled solely with older, white male voters, unwilling to elect minorities or have minorities in pivotal committee positions within the RNC. Unless you’ve come to a point where you believe minorities no longer have specific issues that are endemic solely to them, you need representation to get your needs met and voices heard.But the key would be to eliminate race as an issue and while things have gotten better I don’t think we’re anywhere near the point where race is an afterthought in elections. Also, I don’t think you get re-elected on "change." If Obama serves a second term it will be because people deemed his first term successful or the believe they want him to finish what he started in that first term believing it will lead to success. In four years he’ll have the consequences of the bills he has signed, decisions he has made and changes in our economy and the two wars to run on. It won’t be a change election. It will be a referendum on whether or not he did his job well.As for will blacks continue to vote as a block in a post-racial world that does not exist yet, who knows? Long after the discrimination ended against ethnic whites in major cities they were still largely pro-union, Democrats who later became Reagan Democrats and are now, sort of, begrudgingly Democrats again despite their mixed feelings over the president, but angry because their jobs moved oversees.I just see it as more complex than that. If it’s not one thing, it’ll be another. @ KnoxusPart of the reason why blacks within the Democratic Party hold offices, win districts and have positions of power within the party is because the Democratic Party does realize the importance of the black vote and courts it aggressively. One can argue that the process is still slow and flawed, but, once again, what are your options? A party that acknowledges the issues and supports your candidacies versus a party that is still hot and cold on diversity?And you may recall the fight that broke down during the primary where some white feminists were miffed because they felt blacks had too much pull within the party and the establishment was more interested in backing the first black candidate than the first female (discounting that the establishment had been pro-Hillary for nearly a year prior). The Democrats wanted to win more than anything after being out of office for eight years. If Barack was going to get them back in that was who they were going for.Once again, I think it’s a misconception that people are being manipulated to go with a particular party. If Democrats stripped black politicians of their committees, froze them out of local offices, did not help in raising campaign funds to get them elected and largely ignored issues like poverty, civil rights and social justice, black people would not support the Democratic Party. It’s about advancement. And as a minority it can be difficult to advance within the Republican Party due to certain members who are not interested in outreach to minorities.And I don’t necessarily see anything better versus people who wear their bigotries up front versus those who conceal them. You’re still dealing with bigotry. For most blacks if the options are open bigotry where you know you have no shot, versus tolerance and a mix of people where you may meet some opposition, but may also meet greater opportunity, you’re going to with greater opportunity. There’s no trick here. It’s about issues and advancement.I simply don’t see the members of the CBC, various city mayors and governors and the current president as "show ponies." If so, that’s A LOT of show ponies. The reality is you have one party where it’s easier to move up in through elections and another where it is not as easy. And it’s disingenuous to act like the progress of the last 60 years happened without the Democrats capitulating, losing the hardliners and backing legislation that would encourage fairness. Considering my mother went to poorly funded, segregated schools in the South, had few options (but managed to work her way out anyway), was regulated to living in only one area of town and had limited career choices, I’d argue that the changes brought about under the Johnson Administration had a huge impact on progress in the black community.Like I said, the Democrats are flawed, but if they were useless we would have disengaged from the process completely a long time ago.Also, some things are simply about political philosophies and not race. Some things are about history and personal beliefs and religious beliefs and background. If race were not an issue, people would continue to vote along class and ideological lines. But race is an issue, so … And while some of the electorate is gullible, I think most people who vote regularly have a grasp of the issues and understand what they are for and they are against. Again, I don’t think Evangelicals were duped into voting Republican anymore than blacks were conned into voting Democrat. Both used to be members of the other party and switched when those parties no longer represented their needs in their minds. It is fluid and the parties are a mere reflection of the mood of the people. Things can always change, as they have in the past.And yes, there is going to be bickering in that big tent, but the main thing that keeps people from jumping ship is that things are so polarized politically that many moderate Democrats couldn’t pass the purity test to be considered "real" conservatives or viable members of the Republican Party. Without third or fourth party options, there is no place to go. Either a big tent where you will fight for attention, sometimes marshal together and sometimes fight OR be the Lone Ranger, like Michael Steele was at the RNC this summer, decrying the fact that the Republicans had lost so many minorities due to an adversarial attitude.I guess this isn’t that big of an issue for me (as much as it fascinates me). I expect things to change if race relations continue to improve. But I don’t see Obama as a magic salve that healed race relations. I do see him as a catalyst that will continue the push to get more and more blacks politically involved. He, along with the rest of the new wave of black politicians, have helped inspire a lot of youth who otherwise had been disinterested in the process.Also, you don’t have to apologize for being a black Republican. (At least not on this blog.) It’s just a political philosophy. It’s not like you’re announcing you’re addicted to midget porn. I’m not one who thinks being a Republican makes you some sort of wackadoodle. It just means you have different views on how government should be handled. That’s
    not crazy. You should just talk about your beliefs without the caveats. I don’t quantify my statements as "I’m not ashamed of being a pro-gay agenda Liberal" because I feel very secure in that belief. It simply doesn’t need to be said.I know you’re probably secure in your beliefs as a fiscal conservative, so … no need to quantify it. Just say (or write) what you believe without the caveat.

  10. Last time I saw Steele on FOX he was going out of his way to slam Obama. Whatever, this is window dressing. How can the party that invented "wedge politics" (does anyone remember the late Lee Atwater) expect us to join them in large numbers just because Steele is head of the RNC? Look at how he was running against. The other choices weren’t so great. A

  11. halfmoon circle says:

    I think we are both making the same point about race. I didn’t mean to sound euphoric about it but if we are to believe the hype than it is the destination we are supposed to be heading for. In reality, If Obama lives up to half the hype I think progress will be made( I just wish he didn’t have that uber lib background). But if he doesn’t I think race could become a very toxic issue in national and all the way down elections. Rightly or not, he is THE face of black politics and he could do quite a bit of damage to that long labored base on his way down. After all, that actual post-racial world we talk about doesn’t exist yet. That was really the point I was making. I wouldn’t have made the re-election aren’t about change comment if it hadn’t been the bedrock of everything he said. Yes, I know all elections are about the future and change. But change entered the vernacular this election in a way it never has thanks to him. It could and will be used against him later.

  12. Danielle Belton says:

    @ halfmoonYou’re totally throwing me off with the "optimism/pessimism" thing! LOL.Yeah, Obama is in a high risk/reward situation with for black people, both within and outside of politics on both SIDES of politics. Although the deification began long ago (I’d say Iowa), the guy just started and our country has a ton of serious, serious issues to tackle. The sort that either cause the best to rise out of our government or the worst. I’m planning on writing a post about how hard it is to be a 21st century "Great Communicator" when there is chaos in the leadership of one party and the other has nothing but James Brown’s "The Big Payback" playing on rewind/repeat in their heads. If you didn’t pick it up from my slight Harry Reid dig, I honestly don’t trust him and Pelosi any further than I can throw them. I think they are absolutely useless. And as lovable and hilarious as I find VP Joe Biden, he also has the same throwback tendencies from decades of bickering.That said, I’m not one of those Pollyannas who thinks our political parties should start being best buds and agreeing all the time because then … um, what’s the point? Isn’t that one-party rule? Like Communism? I mean, that’s an exaggeration, but you want them to fight a little if it’s productive. My biggest gripe is that everyone is being sooo petty that their blocking serious progress. The Dems have gone from Bush Era Stockholm Syndrome to Charles Bronson’s "Death Wish" in a matter of weeks and the Republicans have been on some level of Deftcon 5 I’d say since Palin bombed on CBS News.It’s painful to watch.

  13. Zion says:

    I congratulate Micheal Steele on his victory, but yet again, here we go. Look, whites are racist in both parties. The Democrats believe that we need special programs and attention because we’re victims. Republicans believe that blacks play victims even in situations where discimination is blatantly obvious. I take the most offense to are the political blogs this morning where whites want to be applauded for recognizing blacks as political powerhouses. Chairman Steele and President Obama are both well qualified men of color, and they will support each other. In other words, these two strong black men will not give white America the cock fight they are looking for. Next, where was Steele’s support in 2006? All white America is doing is responding to changing demographics. Whites are slowly becoming the minority in a country that is becoming more colorful, and they simply do not want to be left behind. I am a black Republican who supported Obama, but I think its a little unfair to say that blacks have a love affair with Democrats. Democrats were the only ones marketing to blacks, not the RNC. Second, I never hear us call whites out on their unwavering support of white candidates. Lets stop pretending as if the black voter is a mule being lead by a carrot.

  14. dilettante says:

    In these notes I am "educated" that the Republican Party was originally the party of abolition and Lincoln Who hasn’t at one time or another heard that *News flash*- the implication that we are to ignorant to know anything about American history- curiously the fact that it would also be our history is somehow obscured, or indeed not able to reason out what their best interests are.I haven’t followed Mr. Steele’s progress/ politics but I’m now really curious as to what the result of his tenure will be. Just as we are no where near being post racial, I wonder how dormant is the idea of culture wars,which some say the election of Obama vs HRC was a rejection of. Due to geography and our immigration laws- the US is still insulated from the islamist, real & imagined threats facing many European capitals. All of that to say many Black Americans who would be labeled as conservatives– Bill Cosby, Judge Clarence Thomas, LaSahwn Barber et al have at their root the black nationalism of a pre Haji , Malcolm X That brand of black conservatism/(cultural outlook ) that will never trust the larger [white] populace disdains integration- and may frame the abortion debate as a black genocide. Ms. Barber states she’s not a Republican, Mr. Thomas obviously could get past some of distrust of ‘the larger society’ to marry his wife, and indeed we may have religious objections right & left to abortion. I don’t know where to put Ward Connerly who is also anti integration. How much of black conservatism is of this stripe,?-which will never satisfy the real Sarah Palin type of true "red white and blue" Americans who vote GOP? I note the conservative brotherhood- has already posted an opposition to Mr. Steele chair- but I frankly don’t know where they/that group is coming from. It could be that black conservatives are undergoing a generational change – just as Dem’s have moved from Bobby Rush to a Patrick Duval ? Let’s face it ;some older black republicans seem to lack a certain ,lets call it ‘self regard’, but newer voices aren’t afraid to call the bull shit when the see it : Sophia A.Nelson’s It’s My party, but I don’t feel part of itUmmm i will add a caveat to say I’m a neophyte at really following with any degree American politics- this last election was the first one I truly got into, I know that my right to vote was hard won and I’ve exercised it before- but this time was totally different. Its been a joy talking to my grandmother about it- shes turned out to be quite a closet radical

  15. Anarchy1 says:

    As soon as I heard about the Michael Steele pick, I immediately thought of George Wallace following an election defeat early in his career. He was defeated by a man who ran on a segregationist platform and denounced him as a pro-civil rights candidate (who’da thunk it?). After giving his concession speech, Wallace spoke to an aide saying the one thing he’d change about that election was that he’d "never get out N***ered again." To me, that is exactly what the GOP is thinking by making this move. In the past, they have never hesitated to choose anti-civil rights, bigoted, or ultra-conservative figures to head their National Committees…why now? They understand two things: One, the math is against them. As the esteemed Snob said, the constituency they cater to is getting smaller and smaller. Within the next twenty years or so, whites will be a minority. Continuing to run on platforms geared towards concepts of "whiteness" and "good ol Americanism" may not be enough in future elections. They’re gonna have to make some trips to places they’ve never been to get votes…better get a guide and a map. Choosing South Carolina’s own Katon Dawson (we’ll gladly trade this guy for a ham sandwich) would have doomed them completely with minorities. A whites only country club? They still make those? Choosing Steele may convince lukewarm Republicans to join the party rather than placing them in a gray area where they vote based on a single issue like abortion or stay home. It also provides those who dislike minorities in their party "a black friend" to point to as an example of their party’s inclusiveness (see Rice, Powell, Blackwell, etc). The second reason the GOP went this route is that they know its going to be a long road back. Choose an ultra conservative like Dawson and the tent grows even smaller. The party goes the way of the Whigs. A moderate like Steele may be more flexible to ideas like fixing infrastructure (requires spending), amnesty, and devising ideas that appeal to urban residents. If Obama screws up (god forbid) maybe they’ll have more answers for those who have lost their jobs and are frustrated than "tax cuts." Lastly, I think both parties should be worried. A huge reason (other than race) Obama had so much support is because he was a new face. Its almost like we have an independent as President. I know I didn’t think of him as an establishment candidate before all this. Hell, he couldn’t even get a seat at the table before Iowa. Remember how long it took Teddy Kennedy and others to get on board? This election was not about party. It was about the person and a rejection of business as usual. A lot of folks would’ve voted for a parrot over McCain/Bush if it meant progress. The electorate is very frustrated right now. As the middle class disappears, that frustration could produce "class warfare" like we’ve never seen.P.S. Midget porn is awesome. Just kidding. No midgets were harmed in the making of this political statement.

  16. Anon says:

    Political endorsements DO NOT define the political party. This is the same for the supporters of Obama; does Omar Kaddafi¡Çs endorsement make Obama a dictator, or terrorist sympathizer? Does his campaign excepting money from members of Hamas make him an anti-Semite? How about him belonging to a church that supported the fascist and racist Nation of Islam? Or what about Al Sharptons, who endorsed Obama, affiliation with members of The New Black Panther Party? Do you justify these affiliations because his father was from Africa, and he is black, that somehow he is vindicated of his racist affiliations because its "payback" for racist white sentiment that was pervasive in this nations past? Did Obama¡Çs ancestors even suffer the African Americans ancestral plight of slavery? You play the race card like a hooker at a brothel house gambling her life away in a game of poker. It¡Çs pathetic that this is what your political discussion is about. A smoke screen to cover up the real news and issues that hurt America. Tabloid politics.

  17. halfmoon circle says:

    Snob, two quick things.If you’re going to discuss the pitfalls of an information age presidency, I’ll be curious to see your level of objectivity.Second, Um I would like to see your list of high profie non white democrats that you do dig( or that isn’t possibly trying to secretly undermine Obama). I say this because it can’t always be someone else’s fault. Also interesting here is the fact that for the past 8 or so years there has been a bloodletting in the GOP. I think we are about to see one on the other side. What the F*** could possibly be lovable or hilarious about Joe Biden? Oh my god. You have got to be kidding. That’s all I got.

  18. Erika M says:

    I really appreciate this post. I’d like to reference my father who will be 57 tomorrow. Although he has voted Democratic since he began voting, he has never felt like the guy he was voting for truly represented him nor did he really trust him. He always felt that voting for a Democrat was the lesser of two evils. Our current President is the first that he has actually believed in.

  19. Danielle Belton says:

    @ AnonI honestly don’t know where you’re coming from here. No one on this thread is talking about party endorsements. It’s about Steele being elected RNC chairman, how blacks feel about both political parties and if changes like Steele’s election and Obama’s presidency change politics within those two parties. I mean, the post wasn’t even about anything you responded to, so I don’t really know how to address that.@ halfmoonEverything has its positives and negatives, including politicking in the information age (although I don’t recall bringing this issue up in any of my responses or the original post. So, I’m kind of out in left field on this one). I’m part of that information age and I’m a journalist in trade. I believe in the free dissemination of information. Other than that, I don’t know where you’re coming from there as I thought we were having a different dialog.I also don’t know where the "can’t be someone else’s fault" line came from either, because other than some mild Reid and Pelosi bashing. I mean, we’re talking about politicians. They have a job to do. Often aren’t meant to be liked necessarily. It’s their results that’s more interesting. Biden makes me laugh because he’s funny. He’s a complete goofball. You have to find the humor in politics otherwise you’d be miserable all the time. For instance, I completely love Mitt Romney, quite irrationally, simply because he is hilarious to me and fascinating to watch. His drive despite the fact that he struggles with sincerity, yet he pushes on is medal worthy even though I’ll never vote for him.! It’s amazing. And the flipping on nearly ever stance he had as Mass. gov. to only lose the bid for the nomination. But he’s fascinating. His story is fascinating. And there’s a difference in what is interesting and what is politically viable.I affectionately call Biden "Mad Dog" because I think he’s INSANE. Politics are like a sport for me with real world consequences. I can’t say there is any politician, white, black or otherwise, I’m truly enamored with. Other than my fondness for Obama (in the fact that I supported and voted for the man), some admiration for Patrick in Mass., some respect for Maxine Waters, John Conyers, Charlie Rangel (even though he’s long-winded and crustily old school) and John Lewis. There’s no one I passionately love. Politicians are like doctors or lawyers to me. I want them to fix things. Obama is more of a special phenomenon for me where I actually care about the politico beyond his day job.Unless they have some hilarious flaw I enjoy mocking.But of individuals I see as promising in the long term I suppose would be Adrian Fenty, Harold Ford Jr. (even though I don’t see him ever getting as far as he would like, but there are other avenues he could find himself in within the party), Anthony Brown the Lt. Gov of Maryland, Ala. Rep. Artur Davis, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, social climbing pretty boy Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa from LA (Although I don’t see him getting out of LA, unless he moves beyond the photo ops), Bill Richardson before he blew it (although he wouldn’t be the first to comeback from a political snafu), DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee could become a political folk hero if she manages to turn DC schools around in the next 10 to 15 years, then there’s Keith Ellison the first Muslim member of congress, veteran Tammy Duckworth, recent Obama appointees Susan Rice and Mona Stupen have potential (hell, Rice already has a good rep). I mean, there are a lot of people both dreaming of being the next Obama or senator or governor or mayor. Some are working in the Administration. Others are plotting their rise. Politicians are an ambitious bunch. Some are former volunteers right out of college planning their first runs for office in some place I’ve never even thought of.But many of these people, with the exceptions of some of the present mayors and Gov. Patrick, are still in gestation periods, planning their next moves under the Obama Administration.I still don’t know where your comment about "fault" though came from. You have minorities and women in both parties trying to make inroads, always. The success depends on a myriad of things, including party support, their own intelligence and charisma and timing. You simply never know.But these are human beings. I simply expect them to do their jobs. I find them interesting in the sense that I enjoy politics and all the drama that entails, but I’m not quite sure what you’re asking here? Are you implying that there’s a dearth of young talent of minorities in the party? Because that’s not really an issue. Along with elected officials you have the countless aspirants on the local and state levels who could use those smaller platforms to launch into larger ones. One of my best friends is married to the first black party exec. in her state. I’d say that if he plays his cards right he could have a decent career.Anything could happen.

  20. halfmoon circle says:

    My information age president question was apparently unclear. Let me give it another shot.Your statement.I’m planning on writing a post about how hard it is to be a 21st century "Great Communicator" when there is chaos in the leadership of one party and the other has nothing but James Brown’s "The Big Payback" playing on rewind/repeat in their heads. The information age part was a synonym to 21st century. Which, other than 11 days and some odd clinton time has been a bush monopoly. So I’m interested to see your take on the entirity of the past 9 years or the past 11 days( I didn’t think you would touch Clinton). I see this as ripe for another long lettered discussion, and I was already picking my arguing point. So if you do it, you’ll already know ( if it matters) where the volleys will be coming from(Friendly volleys, mind you). I hope that clarifies things.As far as the someone else’s fault thing, here’s a little more clarity. This stimulus has already turned into a circus. And instead of pinning the frustration and blame on Obama’s feet his congressional underlings are catching the heat. I see this as a recurring theme for any shortcomings that come in the future( it certainly was with bush, no need to go there). I think some if not most of the old democratic guard is on the chopping block(i.e. Dodd). Even the Republicans are taking the "All democrats suck but Obama" tone. I’m not sure that’s an enduring strategy. Eventually, Obama will own the bad news. And I meant to say white instead of non white democrats. Because the battle seems to be shaping up between the power in the old "flawed" and the new "multi-hued" democratic party. So my question really is, outside of the CBC and your list of up and comers in the black and hispanic communities, where does whitey fit in in this brave new world? According to you.I totally disagreedwith, but understood, your Civil war comments(I’m from the south, big civil war buff, so forth and so on and yeah we probably don’t see that anywhere near the same, but hey, let’s be constructive here). Biden reminds me of every northerner that has moved to the south in the past few years just to mock it ( oh yeah and to become a rabid nascar fan). Sure he’s a politician but I just really don’t dig him. I’d rather sit in a room and listen to a bowl of oatmeal than to discuss him much further. Hilarious and lovable are the last words I would ever use for him. So that’s that.Say what you will about Romney, He suffers from the same redman in a blue state syndrome that Steele has, if he had been on the ticket things might have been different. I’m not defending the guy but his flaws were already known and the Mormon Nation isn’ t shrinking by any means. He was Rove’s pick. He practically begged to put him on the ticket. I hope this made things a little more clear. Sorry.

  21. Danielle Belton says:

    @ halfmoonHumor is how I deal with everyone’s flaws. It’s what keeps my pleasant demeanor. Biden, for his flaws, is funny to me. He just is. Politically, he is a hack. But many are. I appreciate his work on the behalf of battered women. His humor often falls painfully flat. I mean, maybe it’s the satirist in me.Per your question, I think you may have to wait for the post. As much as I enjoy getting into chats on the comment threads I maintain two part-time jobs, two blogs and am in the midst of a spring promotional push for my own personal career advancement that I am managing.Long story short: I’m going to have to shorten this exchange to stay true to the larger purpose of the blog and to be fair to the other readers who expect me to spend some of my time coming up with new things to write about.But to touch of a few points: Obama is taking heat from the media and pundits for not being able to get Republicans in the House to go along with the stimulus package almost as much as people are wondering if the Republicans are committing political seppuku by voting in a bloc against the bill. I watch and read an unfortunate amount of news, so the criticism is there. I think Obama gets some leeway for his attempts to reach out, which many see is differing from Rove’s plan of a permanent campaign that was a fixture of the Bush White House, but, of course, if all fails, the president will shoulder a bulk of the blame.But my dislike of Pelosi and Reid (more so Reid) is something very separate from Obama. I actually wasn’t even thinking of him or the stimulus when I wrote my comment about Reid.And if I had to toss out a few names of white Dems with potential off the top of my head the short list would included, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, NY Attorney Gen. Andrew Cuomo, Iowa’s Kathleen Seibilus (even though I think she’s dull), Tim Kaine, Ed Rendell, Dem-leaning Independent NY Mayor Bloomberg, god knows how many of the young, clear-eyed white males who are making their way in the Obama Administration, Sen. Clair McCaskill and Florida’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, etc. etc. Even crazy Terry MacAuliffe is considering a run.Whether I like or dislike these people is a little irrelevant because I vote on issues more so than personality, but they all seem to be intent on moving on further than their current station in life.I mean, the Democratic Party isn’t running out of white people. Just as in the Republican Party and in part with being the majority of the US population, white people hold the bulk of the positions of leadership in both parties.There are going to be up-and-comers, stars and unknowns who will surprise us.As for the "Great Communicator" line, I believe Obama fancies himself as someone who has the ability to bring people together, but finds that it is easier said than done. That was about Obama trying to use his position and clout to make things happen. Not so much about the information age. (It was a Reagan reference of all things.) Everyone has their own agendas and historically the Democratic Party is one that is known to fight themselves just as hard as the opposition. Sometimes it can seem like the party is tearing itself apart. Other times that’s just Monday. The descent in the Republican Party simply seems more glaring because they are, traditionally, the more disciplined party.So that’s all that statement meant. He needs to develop the skills it takes to herd cats.

  22. halfmoon circle says:

    Good luck with the spring promotional. I’ll check in from time to time. I can’t help from being a little too lengthy, it’s just how I roll.

  23. Danielle Belton says:

    @ halfmoonHey. It’s understandable. But, life indicates that I gotta move on to other stories and topics. Tis the way of the blogger.

  24. Princess B says:

    I am a registered Republican (PROUD Obamacan of course) and I am still struggling to wrap my head around this Steele thing … I don’t quite know what to think. Is it a step in the right direction, or tokenism that will probably not change anything? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

  25. Rocko says:

    "It’s not that black people love Democrats."If black people don’t love Democrats, there must be special kind of word for the feelings black people have towards Republicans. I mean George Bush, and by extension Republicans, hate black people, right Kanye? But at least the Democratic party reformed so they can claim the lock that the pollsters and the pundits give them election after election on the black vote.I did notice you left out President Eisenhower sending in Federal Troops to protect the Little Rock Nine. And way before that, President Grant’s support of the 15th Amendment and use of Federal Troops to fight the KKK. Also that the great majority of Southern Democrats opposed the Civil Rights Act, Northern Republicans and Democrats passed the bill. But kudos to President Johnson for pushing for the bill, the increase in federal spending and lying about the war.

  26. Danielle Belton says:

    @ RockoUm. If you read correctly you would have noticed that my "reason" for why blacks switched to voting Democratic had to do with populism, with the later rebuke of segregation as the thing that put it over the top. As I pointed out, FDR wasn’t a fan of black people, but black people voted for FDR based on POPULISM. Republicans, historically, have not been the party of populism. They are the party of free markets, low taxes, low regulation and low government intervention. I also made the point that if more Republicans adopted populism (along with more openly addressing issues like poverty and social justice) they would get more positive attention from blacks as these are the issues blacks voted on. But while there are some populists within the Republican Party, it is not a popular political view as it does not jibe with the free markets, low taxes, low regulation and low government intervention.So I can understand you taking it a tad personal with individuals who don’t know the history of the two parties, but I’m going to have to assume you were responding to something other than what I wrote. Perhaps something based on others. I stand by my argument that all people, white and black, vote on their interests. Blacks for years voted Republican but switched because the Democrat’s endorsement of populism jibbed with their efforts in looking for ways to move up in the class system. AND it did not help the Republican Party, PR wise, when they adopted the Southern Strategy and the Dixicrats who defected from the Democratic Party. To ignore the aspects of class issues and the defection of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party as the Republicans worked to build a base in the South that historically they never had is an incredible myopia. So you can accuse blacks who vote Democratic of partnering up with their historic tormentors, but how do you explain how the South, a place where a Republican once could not get elected dogcatcher went overwhelmingly Republican post the 1970s, other than everyone switched sides when the game changed? Historically, Southerners have every reason to despise the Republican Party and for what they did to the region in the years after the Civil War, yet Obama barely won Virginia and North Carolina and places like Mississippi were never in the bag. Are white Southerns being "disloyal" to the Democrats who once fought on their behalf? Why do black people owe Republicans anything based on history any more than Southerners owe Democrats? They’re political parties. Things change. People change. Priorities change. This isn’t a cult, you can walk away at any time. That’s the beauty of the Democratic process. You can’t win blacks back to the Republican Party based on history. People vote on the now.Based on history, I should hate this country and live in Canada, but I don’t.

  27. Knoxus says:

    To call Steele’s selection tokenism is a discredit to the man and the hardwork he brings to the post and pesumes almost nonexistent qualifications ..the most important which is probably a willingness to take the blame. I don’t think his mere selection has to mean anything for anyone personally at this point as far the Reps are concerned. To do so is to overthink a singular event. Judge the man based on his actions and effectiveness as his party’s leader…not on the color of his skin. I am genuinely happy for Steele because I think its a great career opportunity…not because I think little black boys and girls on the street corner in Houston Texas care about it or suddenly believe they can be the next Rush Limbaugh.

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