Michael Steele’s election to be chairman of the Republican National Committee is an amazing step in the right direction for the GOP. The man speaks publicly about race, for christssake! But, just as electing Obama president does not mean we live in Postracial Wonderland, Steele’s election does not mean the GOP has solved its racial problems.
Not like you’d get that impression from reading Republican/conservative blogs. Not only are *some* repubs patting themselves on the back and declaring (again) the end of racism, many are crowing about how eager they are for liberals to lob racial attacks at Steele, and, I guess, thereby making all liberals hypocrites, and making the Democratic Party the true bastion of racism.
I suppose that the GOP has spent less time on racial considerations than the Dems. (NOT as though liberals and Dems don’t have plenty of racial problems as well.) Perhaps they are still getting their sea legs on this matter… perhaps nuance will soon enter their discussions on race.
Or perhaps they just think that with Steele and Obama, discussions of race are moot, unnecessary, so over. Like matter and anti-matter colliding. Which is convenient, since the “race issue” seemed to hurt the GOP at the polls moreso than Dems. Of course they want it to be over.
Conservative pundits don’t want anyone to speculate that their sudden willingness to see more blacks in power may have been influenced by Obama’s amazing campaign and decisive victory, and with the changing demographics of America that indicate old-school bigotry is losing ground. Well, those pundits do want liberal pundits to say those things, so that they can turn around and accuse them of racism.
If Obama was an abysmal failure, if Obama lost to McCain, who would have been elected as Chairman of the RNC? We’ll never know. But I still wonder… are Palin and Steele reactions to HRC and BHO, or would Palin and Steele have appeared so prominently on the political landscape without them? Did Clinton and Obama’s popularity and viability shock them awake to a new reality, or were they already grasping that reality, already looking to support more women and POC in their ambitions to advance through the GOP ranks?
I feel like Steele’s leadership is already causing Republicans to address race through their dialogues with one another and personal reflection. If they no longer need a “Southern Strategy” of dog whistles and coded language to pull in votes, if racist whites are a diminishing bloc of little future import, will it be revealed that the racist white bloc was an excuse for subtler racism up top, or an obstacle to anti-racist GOP leaders who simply had to do what was necessary to win?
Here’s some Republican/conservative chatter regarding race:
Comments on a Hot Air blog about Steele:
By liberal standards, isn’t Steele more authentically black than Obama? I assume Steele is actually the ancestor of slaves and isn’t only half black. Obama is really more of an oreo than Steele.
I think Steele is a great choice. And we’re on parity with the dems being that they cannot use race as a counter punch
Being black is an advantage, just like if he had gone to seminary (oh, he did), or he actually worked (oh, he did)…he is a package, and the package includes his skin.
Someone at a PoliPundit bit on Steele called him a “quota baby.” Other comments at that link are of equal caliber.
Then there was this:
Jay Nordlinger, in his article “A horse of a different color” for BNet:
Black Republicans who run for office are still a select group, but that group is growing. There’s Steele in Maryland, and Blackwell in Ohio. Keith Butler, a pastor and former Detroit city councilman, is running for the U.S. Senate in Michigan. Michael Williams is the railroad commissioner of Texas, not the grandest position, but one from which Williams will almost certainly go on to grander things.
Oh no you didn’t! Your examples of growing racial equality in the GOP is one Senator, one Lieutenant Governor, one state Railroad Commissioner and some people not elected yet? REACHING.
So, uh… there’s work to be done as far as equality in the GOP. Obviously. Do they care enough to do it? Will sheer survival make them do it? It’s a cliche, but *time will tell.*
UPDATE: See what Alas, a Blog has to say on this topic.