Thank You, Chairman Steele
When you became chairman of the RNC, I was excited. For someone new to the world of organized politics, your ascendancy was an inspiration. For a young black conservative, it was-in a sense-validation:
I feel a sense of validation now. It’s almost like, in a single stroke, the work of most black conservatives-at least those who aren’t into playing into a stereotype-is valid. All we’ve wanted is a seat at the table, and not to have to relegate ourselves to “second-class” status to get it. Well, now we have THE seat at the table…
…and then, the, um, miscues began.
I believe you meant what you said when you called Limbaugh “incendiary and ugly.” Saw your eyes, heard your words, and that’s the conclusion I came to. If that’s so-if you really stand by your comments-then as a man, why would you feel the need to back off them to appease people? Stand by what you say. Take a lesson from-of all people-Nancy Pelosi: don’t involve yourself in the pop culture.
At the end of that post, I had pretty much written you off as a failure. The enthusiasm generated by your chairmanship had, by and large, worn off at that point.And then I got to meet you; share a few words with you. And my opinion changed, for the better.
Your head was always in the right place, even if your mouth didn’t always get there. When you said that the GOP needed to reach out to “urban, suburban, and hip-hop settings,” you were dead on. Quiet as it was kept, that began to happen; part of my job on the McDonnell campaign was making it happen. I kept that statement at the front of my mind. Still do.
If the true measure of political success is results, then November 2010 made a better case for your reelection as chairman than I ever could. Instead, people continued to focus on the gaffes, the staff slip-ups (Angela Sailor is VERY smart, but…), and the fundraising problems-which, if people are willing to be honest, pre-date your chairmanship.
So what’s next?
I fear the GOP is going to go back to “what worked” for them; namely, getting that 3-6% of the black vote so as not to lose an election. To people like me-and I believe you as well-that was never good enough. Settling was never an option. We have some crazy stuff to show for it; you came down and campaigned for a congressional candidate in a completely lost cause, and I took a candidate to the projects of Norfolk to campaign. People asked “for what?”
We knew the answer-because our message needed to be heard.
I don’t see that enthusiasm-that aggressiveness, the willingness-continuing. I see our party sliding back to holding the votes they need, without trying for more. Because that’s “safe.” That doesn’t require any effort and little expenditures.
It may be prudent…but that doesn’t make it right.
Alas, that’s the new chairman’s problem. And I can only hope that, regardless of how much money he raises, he has half the electoral success you had.
Your chairmanship was not a failure. You lead better than many of us expected.