Google+ Five years ago I really wanted to stay in the GOP

Five years ago I really wanted to stay in the GOP

DR_Tucker.jpgAround this time five years ago, I actually believed that the newly-elected RNC chair Michael Steele would make a sincere effort to reach beyond the old-straight-fundie-white-guy demographic, and that his selection as RNC chair was a powerful symbol of the GOP realizing that it had to deal with the reality of American life in 2009, as opposed to 1959.

I recognize today that Steele's selection was a powerful symbol of something else (tokenism), but at the time I truly thought that he would be able to take the party in a different direction. On January 31, 2009, I wrote the following for Human Events Online — you can see the flawed passion all throughout this piece. And if you think this is bad, you should have seen the piece I wrote for my now-defunct blog several weeks later, defending Steele's remarks about reaching out to so-called "urban-suburban hip-hop settings." 

steelernc.jpgHope Makes a Comeback

by D.R. Tucker, Jan. 31, 2009
Whoooooo! Now we go to school. 
 
The election of Michael Steele as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee is a stimulus package for the GOP—a stimulus that will actually work. For the first time since Newt Gingrich left Congress, the Republican Party has a real leader.
 
I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t think Steele could pull it off. I figured that he would be doomed by allegations that he wasn’t really conservative enough for the position, and that a candidate like Ken Blackwell or Saul Azunis would get the gig. Thank goodness I was wrong. Yesterday, Steele showed that anything is possible in America.
 
Steele is a committed conservative, a gifted speaker, a big-picture thinker. He admires Reagan, but he recognizes that we are not in Reagan’s time, and that the country needs a new conservatism for a new era. Under Steele, the GOP could reach heights it hasn’t seen since the 1980s.
 
The last two months have been distressing for conservative Republicans. (I would argue that the last eight years have been distressing for conservative Republicans because of the former President’s fetish for big government, but that’s for another day.) We lost the White House by running a weak, old, ideologically incoherent candidate against the most politically skilled Democrat in ages. Our Vice Presidential candidate was smeared in a manner similar to the way Robert Bork was treated in 1987. The GOP began to morph into a rump party as blacks, Latinos, Asians and young whites washed their hands of the Republicans, seemingly for good.
 
Can Steele reverse this trend? If he can’t do it, it cannot be done. Luckily, Steele has the talent necessary to make things work.
 Maryland’s former lieutenant governor ran a tremendous US Senate campaign against Ben Cardin three years ago; considering his disadvantages (the deep-blue nature of Maryland politics, the national unpopularity of the GOP, the loyalty of the state’s black voters to the Democrat Party), Steele’s 44 percent finish in the Senate contest was quite impressive. Steele has vowed to make the GOP competitive again in the Northeast; having bet against him once and lost, I will not bet against him again with regard to achieving this goal.
 
Steele has the intelligence, the integrity and the desire to make the Republican Party strong again. He will be our political Columbus, taking conservatism to previously undiscovered territory. Steele will be everywhere, penetrating the barriers of dogmatic liberalism with his optimistic and principled message. He can take conservatism to the nightclub, the beauty salon, the barbershop, the corner store. He can take conservatism right back to the top, where it belongs.
 
He’ll have haters on the far left and haters on the far right. The moonbats will call him the same vulgar names they used to attack Clarence and Condi and Connerly. So what? They can’t stop him. The wingnuts—the hardcore ideologues whose minds are as small as the folks who now seek Jed Babbin’s ouster from Human Eventsbecause he doesn’t hate Mitt Romney—will also scandalize his name, calling him a RINO and a moderate because he has acknowledged that not everyone agrees with every last aspect of the GOP’s philosophy. So what? They can’t stop him either.
 
Michael Steele is now the GOP’s main-event star, a charismatic, compelling figure with a vision for victory and a plan to achieve it. While the road ahead of him is difficult, filled with such challenges as the Fourth Estate’s hostility and Obama’s popularity, he has what it takes to reach his destination.
 
Steele, of course, is the first black person to serve as Chairman of the RNC. That shouldn’t matter. Race shouldn’t matter. Yet we must acknowledge this achievement, because it finally exorcizes the ghost of race that haunted the GOP since the 1960s.
 
The “Southern Strategy” is now officially dead. All the old embarrassments—Earl Butz, James Watt, Trent Lott, Chip Saltsman—don’t matter anymore. At long last, the GOP is the “party of Lincoln” again. Under Michael Steele’s leadership, we will issue a new Emancipation Proclamation, one that liberates the country from the burdens of government waste and excess. 
 
Yesterday was a good day to be a conservative, a good day to be a Republican, but more importantly, a good day to be an American. Steele is a man of courage, a man of honor, a man of wisdom, a man of accomplishment. Now, as the head of the RNC, he is the man of the hour.

After being ousted as RNC head in January 2011, Michael Steele spoke to Rachel Maddow about his experiences running the GOP:
In February 2009, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry explained why Michael Steele's outreach efforts were doomed:
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