Michael Steele’s Treatment at CPAC Is a Sad and Worrisome Omen for the GOP


Minority voters are watching how conservatives treat my old boss, the former RNC Chair.

By: Doug Heye-Daily Beast

The news that former RNC Chairman Michael Steele was criticized on the stage of the Conservative Political Action Committee should not have been a surprise. For 15 years, Steele has had his race used against him, with the bipartisan critics and the media often amplifying the notion that he has to be kept  in his “place.”

I know first hand, having worked on Michael Steele’s 2006 Senate race and at the Republican National Committee while Steele was chairman. But while I had come to expect it from his liberal opponents, I’m distressed to see the “conservative” movement echo these lines.

It began back in the 2002 Maryland Gubernatorial race, when Steele was candidate for lieutenant governor. The liberal editorial page of the Baltimore Sun questioned Steele’s credentials, saying he brought “little to the team but the color of his skin.” Four years later, the Sun was at it again, patronizingly terming Steele a “likable man and persuasive speaker” – articulate and clean, anyone?

Steny Hoyer, the House Minority Whip has called Steele “slavish”—for which he had to apologize— while Maryland State Senate President Mike Miller called Steele “Uncle Tom.” The Democratic National Committee, in a 37-page memo by Cornell Belcher sought to “turn Steele into a typical Republican candidate — as opposed to an African-American.”

When Steele ran, successfully, for RNC chair in 2009, the dirt continued to be thrown at him. In 2009, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough declared that “Republicans are learning right now, that sometimes being black isn’t enough. They thought ‘we’re going to get a black guy to run our party.’”

Always outspoken, but also a former seminarian, Steele handled this with a characteristic mix of class and combativeness. But even as he was able to deal the slings and arrows coming his way, the comments raised serious questions about how much of the political universe views race.

With the communications director of CPAC declaring, from the stage this past week, that Steele was elected as RNC chair “because he’s a black guy,” it raises even more serious questions about how Trumpian tribalism has quickly become the rule of law within a large segment of the GOP.

This is terrible for our party.

While Republicans may see speaking to minority audiences as a low priority, they should realize that minorities are closely watching them. For African-Americans to see the man who is likely the most prominent African-American Republican on the airwaves, treated this way, is another sign of a Republican Party that is not interested in winning their votes. CPAC is an event I used to attend nearly annually but have not in several years. Over time, the conference has taken more and more of a tribal posture, seeking to cast out what it decides are “bad” conservatives in favor of “good” conservatives with a roster slouching towards the extreme. Last year it was Milo Yiannopoulos, who was ultimate disinvited from CPAC after sponsors balked. This year, it was Marion Le Pen of France’s National Front, whose politics are so controversial in her home country that French rocker Johnny Hallyday had the family banned from the funeral. Unlike Yiannopoulos, Le Pen was not disinvited. Instead, she was welcomed as a hero, if not the conquering one.

Of course, CPAC’s conquering hero is clearly Donald Trump. Just two years after canceling his 2016 speech under the threat of a walk out, Trump has become the belle of the ball, fully in control of an adoring audience all too happy to boo Senator John McCain and other Republicans who don’t sufficiently grovel to him.

Does anyone honestly believe that these comments would have been said about Steele had he been a Trump acolytes instead of a detractor? The obvious and honest answer is no. That may be fine if Trump is enjoying high popularity. But he is not. He is in a politically tenuous position—with low popularity ratings and an ever-encroaching Russia investigation—not the position of power.

All of which puts the GOP in precisely the position many believed the party was heading the day before Trump’s surprise election. It also means that whenever Trump is no longer president, the GOP will still be divided, with limited desire or effort to appeal to minorities, and no road map forward.

They will need—and should want—people like Michael Steele to help move beyond these kinds of moments and re-find their way.

 

 

Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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