This started out as such a brilliant idea — getting one of those “clean and articulate” African-Americans Vice President Biden always talks about to be the new chairman of the RNC. Then the Republicans’ grand plan started to unravel. The first strand was Steele v. Rush. Attacking Rush Limbaugh always gets you points with the Democrats and with the leftist media, but it doesn’t do much to keep the support of the conservative base of the Republican party. What I believe Chairman Steele fails to understand about Rush’s influence is that he expresses what the majority of his audience already believes. Rush Limbaugh is not the leader of the Republican Party, and he would never want to be. That’s not his job. He is an entertainer, as Steele said, but he is also an important voice for conservatism. In addition to the occasional mindless drone who looks to Rush to tell him/her what to think and believe everyday, Rush’s audience also includes grassroots activists who are motivated by their ideology to volunteer for the party in their local communities, and to encourage others to do the same. In the Steele v. Rush debate, all the Chairman accomplished by his scattershot comments is to alienate many of my fellow conservatives who wish to be included in this new big tent we are creating in the party with all those important moderates and independents. In the absence of Republican leadership, many voices clamor to be heard, and there is much competition to be the most powerful and influential representative of my party. Right now that person doesn’t seem to be the chairman of the RNC.
The second so-called controversy that’s currently getting airplay is about his comments on abortion in GQ, and how he believes that it’s a woman’s “individual choice”. Well, yeah. Of course it is. I’m not sure we can win hearts and minds to the pro-life position by arguing over this point. I don’t think that this says anything significant about Michael Steele’s personal beliefs on the abortion issue, although those who were initially skeptical about his abortion views won’t be reassured by his current comments on the subject. While there may be room for a difference of opinion among my fellow Republicans on abortion, ultimately the Republican Party is and always has been a pro-life party. Social conservatives have a home in this party, and they make up a significant portion of the grassroots army the Republicans need to win elections. That’s why the current mindset of our RNC chair is troubling to me. He doesn’t seem to understand a significant portion of the people he represents, and yet he wants to expand our base to include moderates and independents. This would mean watering down the principles we claim to have always stood for, even if the execution of those ideals has never been perfect. If he can’t keep the trust of the base, then all the moderates and independents he could gain won’t do much to our electoral prospects going forward into ’10 and ’12.
Do I think we should throw Michael Steele under the bus? Not yet. Possibly not at all. The Democrats managed to succeed in spite of Howard Dean, didn’t they? Right…so there is still hope for the RNC to get its act together in time for the next election.