Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steele is So Scary

GOP chair Michael Steele recently made some waves when, speaking to Roland Martin, he had the following exchange:
MARTIN: But your candidates got to talk to them. One of the criticisms I've always had is Republicans -- white Republicans -- have been scared of black folks.

STEELE: You're absolutely right. I mean I've been in the room and they've been scared of me. I'm like, "I'm on your side" and so I can imagine going out there and talking to someone like you, you know, [you're like,] "I'll listen." And they're like "Well." Let me tell you.

Steve Benen says that informing Black folks that Republicans really are scared of Black people isn't going to help their outreach. Adam Serwer is a little more charitable, but says the real problem is that Steele can't commit to actually doing the sort of things outreach to non-White communities would actually require (things that actually might legitimately scare the White male base).

It's a shame, really. When Steele was campaigning for GOP chiefdom, he actually did make some good remarks on why the Republican Party was failing in its efforts to secure more non-White support. He hasn't followed up at all in office, and I think it is because he's discovered that -- even from the top of the pile -- lots of Republicans simply don't trust him.

UPDATE: Black Republicans don't seem to be taking Steele's comments so kindly. But one thing they're forgetting is that the whole point of appealing to non-Whites is that most of those people aren't Republican now. It's fab that these folks feel comfortable in GOP clothes. I mean that. But Steele has to speak to the vast majority of African-Americans whose experience with the Republican Party has not been so kind. If Steele went on radio and say "I can tell you that all you've heard about the GOP being hostile to Black people is a lie," he'd be dismissed as a tool. Not even because he'd be lying about his own experience, but because it so flagrantly contradicts the experience of the folks he's trying to talk to.

UPDATE #2: This goes without saying, but White Republicans are furious. I note that there is virtually no acknowledgment that what Steele might be saying is a true account of his own experience -- that he really does sense "fear" from White Republicans. There is just a knee-jerk "take it back!" response. That bodes well for Black folk observing whether the GOP will take their claims and experiences seriously in policy decisions.


PG said...

That bodes well for Black folk observing whether the GOP will take their claims and experiences seriously in policy decisions.

Indeed, the Hot Air guy is very upset that Steele doesn't understand just "how sensitive most righties are about being demagogued by the left with false, politically calculated charges of racism."

Amusingly, he doesn't say "white righties," even though the POC I know on the right aren't hyper-sensitive about being called out for racism.

For example, my dad has dealt with racism. Unlike the Hot Air types, he knows it's real, not something that Democrats made up for political gain. But the only time he's not supported a Republican candidate for office was when the Republican was overtly xenophobic. Dad's in a position where he feels secure enough not to have to worry about racism as much as he worries about keeping his money, running a small business without too much government interference, and bombing Muslims, all of which add up to voting Republican.

Superdestroyer said...

The idea that the more conservative Party can ever appeal to blacks is laughable. Blacks are the most liberal groups in the U.S. (the support race based reparations at about the 80% level) and will never vote for the more conservative party.

The long range question and why white conservatives are scared of black politicians is that it will be virtually impossible to have an European style socialist government when a majority of the tax payers are black and Hispanic.