Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mission Impossible

Michael Steele, former Lt. Governor of Maryland is now the chairman of the Republican National Committee. In what will surely be touted as an historic event similar to the Governor Sarah Palin nomination I think it is important to review what this says about the “new” Republican Party and its future direction. For Republicans it shows that it is still about image and perception and not about real change of direction or policy. For the rest of us it demonstrates just how much the Republicans despise the American people and their utter contempt for our intelligence. The Republicans will now be known as the “Alternate Reality” Party. In their “new” reality symbolism has replaced substance, imagery has replaced depth of ideas, and a comedian has replaced leadership.

The thing that bothers me the most about the last two major Republican charades – Sarah Palin as Hillary Clinton and Michael Steele as Barack Obama is the transparency of their condescension of the American people. What the Republicans fail to understand is that it is not the face that is important; it is the policy behind the face. Instead of focusing on changing the outdated and patently false narratives they have been force feeding the nation, they focus on the superficial. If we change the spokesperson it appears as if we are changing the policy when in fact we are not. Are these people so detached from reality that they believe that women supported Hillary just because she was a woman and that blacks and minorities supported Barack Obama just because he was black? While many women and minorities found a sense of pride in the candidacies of both Clinton and Obama their support went far deeper than the cosmetics of gender and race. Are they so cynical that they believe that women would have supported Ann Coulter just because she was a woman or blacks would have supported Clarence Thomas just because he is black?

The selection of Michael Steele as head of the RNC is a farce in itself. It took him six ballots to defeat a member of an all-white club, the distributor of Barack the Magic Negro cds, or the architect of the last two election cycle defeats. It definitely appears like the Republicans are learning from their past mistakes and are taking this opportunity to retool their party with new ideas and directions. As he made the rounds of the talk shows you would think that Mr. Steele would be saying the things that would be signaling the end to the rank partisanship and taking a more conciliatory tone; right? Well, you would be wrong. According to Mr. Steele the past two election cycles should have no bearing on whether Republicans should support President Obama’s policies or follow the will of the American people. It is irrelevant today that in a democracy the voters have spoken and made a choice. It is also irrelevant that we are facing a far greater challenge than the one that the former administration faced when the Republicans expected everyone to rally around the flag and support their policies.

Well, Mr. Steele those policies have failed America miserably and for you and the Republicans to continue to offer up the same ideas repackaged is an insult to the American people. As a recovered person I am reminded of the phrase that if nothing changes then nothing changes. Just because you put a new shade of paint on the outhouse doesn’t mean it won’t stink anymore. When asked why the Republicans lost Mr. Steele has answered that the Republicans needed to return to the 1994 Pact with America fashioned by Newt Gingrich. Just so I understand the way to take the Republican Party into the future is to return it to the past? This stuff is too good. You couldn’t make this stuff up. I have written previously that I thought the Republicans did not have the humility to be able to reassess their defeats and develop new ideas that resonate with the people. For some strange reason the Republicans have the mistaken belief that presentation is more important than ideas. They have every intention of presenting the same old ideas delivered by new faces.

Mr. Steele has decided to take on an impossible mission. He is being asked to sell the Republican’s rehashed ideas to an America that has changed while they have not. How anyone could review the last two election results and come up with the belief that the reason they turned out the way they did was because the Republicans were not “Republican” enough is beyond me. Mr. Steele may be black but he is no Barack Obama. He is not a visionary, but merely an opportunist that happened to be the color of the day. Despite his rhetoric to the contrary Mr. Steele will not and cannot lead the Republicans into the future unless they are willing to change their policies. The time in American history and politics where style trumps substance is thankfully over. If the Republicans think they can return to viability by resisting change versus embracing change then it really will be mission impossible. Real change is not just changing the faces but changing the ideas they represent.

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