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Monday, April 06, 2009

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STEELE THE MOMENT
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 11:15 AM RNC Chairman Michael Steele received a lot of media flak for his March 2nd speech at Tavis Smiley's "State of the Black Union" summit. But I watched the summit and saw the speech go over with its intended audience. Seated amongst liberal luminaries such as Cornel West, Al Sharpton and Lani Guinier, Steele engaged in a healthy and downto-earth dialogue about the barriers to entry that minorities still face, disparities in education and health care, and gun violence in urban communities. Could the last RNC chairman Ken Mehlman have done that? Steele talked about black successes too, but the problems are where the GOP can gain insight and advantage. Steele has already shown himself dedicated to making inroads in minority communities. To be sure, co-opting Democratic issues such as education and fighting inner city crime isn't a new idea. George Bush did it successfully as governor of Texas and tried again in 2000 with his compassionate conservatism. But as the first African-American party chairman, Steele gives minorities a seat at the GOP table. He is also probably more respected in the black community than any other Republican aside from Colin Powell. On many issues - gun rights, education, crime prevention - the GOP isn't necessarily on the wrong side; they are just on the other side and must appear to be open to negotiation. For example, gun rights sound great when you're a sport shooter or hunter and live in a nice comfortable area. It doesn't sound so great when you live in Richmond, Orlando, or another mid-major city that is plagued with gun violence. It's not a secret that certain regulations like the Lautenberg Amendment, which bars gun possession by abusers convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, gives law enforcement a leg up. But the gun lobby - NRA, et al recently supported an argument that would've gutted it. The argument was proffered by a convicted domestic abuser, based on a significantly narrow interpretation, and ruled against in the Supreme Court. In minority communities, especially black ones, it seems as though law enforcement's hands are too frequently tied when it comes to protecting black victims yet all too free when it comes to imprisoning black suspects (blacks are six times more likely to be imprisoned). This distrust naturally fosters even more problems. Steele can certainly help to cut through this distrust by supporting policies that empower urban communities, continuing to support affirmative action, and ending the condescension emanating from the likes of Rush Limbaugh (to whom he should not have recently apologized). So it's Steele's moment. The GOP should fall back and let the man work.

by

John S. Wilson
BIO see all of John's posts

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Frum on Warren's

"All the King's Men"
I blame Christopher Caldwell, I really do. A few years ago, Caldwell dropped a bunker-buster of a negative review on Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. All MORE Bookshelf

choccity2005 3/18/2009 12:20 PM

sinz54:i totally disagree with you on this issue...that the G.O.P should give up on the black vote.michael steele,ken blackwell,shleby steele,mcwhorter,davis,sowell,elder,parker...and so on and so on.The black community is dying for an alternative to the democrats.Look at michigan,new york city,new jersey,L.A,san francisco....heavy populations of blacks,in democrat controlled land.Where are there jobs?Where are there opportunities?Where are the promises of a better life for them?It's high crime,high poverty and high unemployment areas. Blacks in these areas haven't heard of vouchers,retirement accounts,new tax forms,union busting and so on and so on.they need the G.O.p more than ever.Democrats FEAR me.i'm a intelligent black conservative who still resides in the inner cities.I speak my mind....and can debate any liberal on any issue.More of me...20 percent of me and you see a differnce in politics and our lives.We need the G.O.P more than ever.

choccity2005 3/18/2009 12:11 PM

Okay......I am so tired of all this defend rush limbaugh nonsense.This is why the conservative movement is on it's death bed.Like glenn beck says'SAY what you mean and do what you say'. You know why people are so fed up with washington....cause they have shown that they are truely politicians.Like bill clinton siad'it dependss on what the meaning of is....IS.'now the repubs and conservs are the same way....one is pepsi and the other is coke.....both cola.there is no other part...brothers and sisters from the same family. Rush is of that same family.I will listen to someone when they critize thier own family,party,company,group...when that institution does not stand for the values that it's suppose to stand on. ANY RUSH DEFENDER.....Give me one link,one example when Rush,hannity,levin,other republican/conservative.....Wanted bush to fail in increasing government spending(Bailouts),expanding government(D of hom.sec,presciption drug),socialism(nationalizing banks)....mismangement of the war or katrina.WHere was the outrage over george bush.....if you can't give any examples than how can you defend these people like rush now?

John Wilson 3/15/2009 8:47 PM

Choccity, very true. Muslim, black and other minorities of the GOP were very perplexed as to how they should react to certain antics displayed during the election. And as you pointed out, this issue w/ Steele has also been an interesting learning experience.

choccity2005 3/15/2009 10:21 AM

The problem for the G.O.P.......Is i see us attacking michael steele really vigorously.As a black conservative....I noticed alot of right wing talk radio hosts and alot of pundits seem ever to thrilled to attack michael steele.Hotair.com seems overjoyed in creating some controversy every week.I saw foxnews do a piece on him every hour on the hour.Now to a black conservative how does that look to me.I am not the one ever to say racism at the drop of a hat.But i see it's more STEELE wants to change the party....and they don't want to allow the party to change.I am pro life...but if a woman wants to have a abortion...what would you have me do,Blow up the clinic,kill her

before she can.Where are the proposals made to make adoption easier.The amount of money needed and time wasted to get a adoption in the u.s is staggerring...hence why people go to romania or russia or asia.The problem is no one will speak out against george bush(except glen beck and oreilly,frum,steele)No one will speak against rush limbaugh.george bush didn't ease adoption regulations.You can't have a party saying We don't want women to have an abortion....then not put policies to help them. you cannot have policies saying the poor should fend for themselves ....and go up against a party who says...we'll give you money. Policies must equate to answers for people...self reliance,low taxes,small government and tax breaks for the rich is not a party platform.....The more youth that are coming into politics the more they turn away from the G.O.P.....get rid of steele and watch the party be labeled......bigots/racists and watch us fade into the shadows.

Captain America 3/12/2009 1:11 PM

sinz54....you've got your history wrong bud. Republicans voted for the '64 Voting Rights and '65 Civil Rights Acts in greater proportions than Democrats (remember the Dixiecrats?). If you were a Black southerner, your oppressors were generally affiliated with the Democratic Party (George Wallace). The Kennedy's helped provide a contrasting image of course, but the GOP was not shunned by Blacks then as it is now. What Republicans did not support were the more aggressive integration policies like bussing, welfare, housing laws and Affirmative Action. National Review and Goldwater aside, the loss of the Black vote was a slow bleed caused by the perception that Republicans did not "care" about Blacks. I don't disagree with you - Repubs screwed up big time in the 70's by not attempting to connect, but it wasn't with the landmark legislation of the 60's. BTW, Affirmative Action did a lot to agrrivate race relations but was not the cause of Black achievement

sinz54 3/12/2009 6:52 AM

I think the black vote cannot be reached by Republican efforts. The Hispanic vote is a much better opportunity. Blacks got where they are today by Federal efforts--desegregation and affirmative action. Every employer I used to work for got "brownie points" from the EEOC for hiring blacks. That makes blacks very suspicious of conservatives who diss Federal efforts and want to leave things up to the states. For blacks, "leaving things up to the states" meant institutionalized segregation at the state level. And in the 1950, National Review stated that the states had a right to segregate against blacks if they wanted. The failure of conservatives to recognize that individual rights trumps states' rights, killed black support for the GOP. In 1960, Nixon got 40% of the black vote. But once the GOP started opposing the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and affirmative action, black support for the GOP dropped to the 10% or less it is now.

Captain America 3/12/2009 4:53 AM insightdeluxe2 3/11/2009 11:04 PM John Wilson 3/11/2009 2:50 PM

insight...I'm not a telepath, so you're going to have to explain a little more

Are you guys serious?

Very true - outcomes are not guaranteed and the black community isn't looking for them or handouts either. Instead what they are looking for is a fair shot. The facts show the inequalities that exist and again that's after controlling for a multitude of factors. To think that policies couldn't be better written and implemented, more holistically devised (broader input), and refashioned when not viable is cutting minority communities short. I sincerely believe that having a gentleman such as Steele at the forefront of the GOP gives minorities a seat at the table; and a seat may not be a sufficient

condition for change but is a necessary one. I concur - excellent discussion.

Captain America 3/11/2009 12:54 PM

John....I must reiterate, outcomes are not guaranteed. It is when you try and create utopia from Capitol Hill that situations like those we see on "The Wire" come into being. There exist families that work hard, play by the rules and still have a difficult time. So what are we to do? Emphasize church and community groups. These local, volunteer organizations have been filling the gaps since the Freedmen's Bureau. Mr. Booker and Davis are interesting figures, though I have a hard time pinning down what their core beliefs are. President Obama, however, is a committed Leftist and brings the same free spending, growth stifling ways as Jimmy Carter with the same limp, conciliatory foreign policy to boot. However we may differ though, good and worthwhile discussion!

John Wilson 3/11/2009 10:57 AM

Captain America, sure I agree with you that Steele's job will be to sell those solutions to African Americans, and I also believe he's capable to do so. The question that remains is: will the GOP support him enough to enable the change he brings? As far as social pathologies in the black community, sure there are certain changes in behavior and perspective that can assist blacks tremendously in becoming much more successful than the community is at present. But for far too long critics from afar have painted that as the only reason they are not successful, and it is not. The next generation of leaders such as Obama, Corey Booker and Artur Davis have a compelling message that extends much further than the previous generations of the 60's and 70's.

Captain America 3/11/2009 10:14 AM

Greetings John...In defending the NRA and the 2nd Amendment I was not opposing reasonable measures such as the Lautenberg amendment, only calling for care in the crafting of such measures so that they do not give the Left an opportunity to impose restrictions on responsible, law abiding citizens. As far as the Black community is concerned, I don't intend to be condescending, but there are certain Pillars of Faith (mantras) that too many of us (hint hint) adhere to that defy objective inquiry. The primary one of those is the idea that racism is the root of Black problems with government as the answer. Can you believe that at it's 2008 summit, the NAACP concluded that "racism" was the number one issue concerning Black America? The hard truth of the matter is that in the year 2009, the social pathologies that plague African Americans are rooted in personal decisions and individual choices. As you do, I criticize conservatives and the GOP for not engaging Blacks enough, but I applaud the Party for not patronizing AA's as the Democrats do by reenforcing the notion that illegitimacy, dropout rates, and antiintellecualism among the youth are caused by "the system". John McWhorter, Bill Cosby, Ward Connerly, Larry Elder, Juan Williams (no conservative) and others echo this sentiment. Mr. Steele's job will be to "sell" the time-tested, real world solutions to these problems. School vouchers (which Democrats shamelessly stripped from D.C. kids today), family planning, and entrepreneurship are ideas that work, and that empower rather than infantalize people. I believe the old guard Civil Rights generations of the 60's and 70's may be too far entrenched in their protest-driven, fight-the-power political views, but generation X and Y can be convinced to question their preconceived notions about what conservatism and the GOP is all about.

John Wilson 3/10/2009 10:12 PM

Captain America - Thank you for reading and commenting. The Lautenberg amendment was far from a D.C. total gun ban, instead it's a common sense measure to protect those most likely to be preyed upon again - battered women. Also, the black community needs to "unlearn" certain mantras? Such as what exactly? The

statement seems condescending at best. In addition, even when you control for education, lack of a criminal record and other particulars blacks are still are less wealthy, less healthy and more likely to face, yes, "barriers." Fact is the GOP has struggled mightily to even understand minority issues much less have an actual important stance on them. And the old excuses of: "They don't like us and they follow the NAACP and Al Sharpton too much" or "They are addicted to the federal programs Democrats give them". Those days are over. The more blacks gain real influence within the Democratic party - such as President Obama has clearly done - the more the GOP will be seen as irrelevant on minority issues. This country will be a minority is majority country in the next 30 years. So the GOP can get with it or lose a few generations. Their choice. Sinz54 - Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree with your premise but not your conclusion. For moral as well as political reasons, the GOP should not just pack it in when it comes to the black vote. They are out of touch and need to understand that they govern black communities too. Just because they don't depend on the black vote doesn't mean they shouldn't be prepared to know the issues, learn the problems and seek solutions. Not needing the black vote has long been their excuse to ignore those communities. Those days are over.

Captain America 3/10/2009 7:41 PM

Instead of issuing an apology which made Mr. Steele look feeble, I would have hoped to instead see him call into Limbaugh's show for a friendly give and take. This would have shown the world that these two men disagree on very little (except perhaps tone) and given clarity to the fact that they both play two very different, but very essential roles in the conservative movement. By the way, I don't think getting - dare I say - "squishy" on Affirmative Action and gun rights is going to earn us any points with independents. Every ballot measure has shown that ending racebased preferences (which did NOT account for the success of Blacks after 64/65) is a winner with the folks. I also understand the resistance of the NRA to giving any ground because of excesses like the DC handgun ban when liberals get any kind of toe hold. Instead, to break off 5, 10% of the Black vote we need to help the few that are willing to listen "unlearn" some of the mantras that the Democratic Party has been preaching to them and have been passed down for a couple of generations now. Guns in the hand of law abiding citizens is still bad....Affirmative Action is necessary....there are "barriers" that minorities still have to face. What needs to be communicated in a respectful way is that when minorities graduate from high school, avoid a criminal record, and do not have children out of wedlock, disparities on quality of life disappear when compared to Whites. Michael Steele's mission is to convince 10% or so (already socially conservative) Blacks to break ranks with Democrats and intrusive government and come on board.

sinz54 3/10/2009 5:30 PM

I hope Mr. Steele spends more time reaching out to the Hispanic community, frankly. I very much doubt that more than a few percent of blacks will ever vote for the GOP. Among all of America's minorities, blacks had a unique situation: Their very freedom, and later their economic opportunity, came about from Federal action. Lincoln freed the slaves, the Supreme Court integrated the schools; and blacks see affirmative action as their entry point into the middle class. And because of this, blacks will always be thankful for what they got from Washington; and many feel they haven't gotten enough yet. Our message of limited government sounds to them like abandoning the Federal programs that have benefited blacks. Whereas Hispanics have always worked hard to benefit themselves; they were never slaves who had to be freed by a President. Besides, as Karl Rove recognized, Hispanics are the key

to the West. The Dems have had the black vote for decades, but it was never decisive, not even in 2008.

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