January 31, 2009

RNC Steeled for Battle

The RNC yesterday elected it's first black chairman, Michael Steele, to a two year term. It took 6 ballots to achieve the victory. Steele has a reputation as a centrist but that isn't necessarily a fair assessment. There are a good number of positives that come out of this and the RNC has elected a man who comes ready to bring the fight to the Democrats.

Some positives

After two election cycles (2006 and 2008) of substantial losses in the House and Senate, as well as the White House, Mike Duncan is gone. If nothing else, it proves that Republicans don't reward failure the way Democrats do (e.g. the auto bailouts). More importantly though, the man who was chosen by George Bush is no longer at the helm of the Republican party. He was not the right man for the job. Cleaning house after the defeats, in this case is a good idea.

Michael Steele is the chair of GOPAC, the organization that recruits and trains Republican candidates, he brings that wealth of knowledge to his chairmanship, and potentially a synergy between the two efforts.

He has vowed to fight for every vote, every group - something the RNC has seemed not to think to do at times;

"We're going to say to friend and foe alike: 'We want you to be a part of us, we
want you to with be with us.' And for those who wish to obstruct, get ready to
get knocked over," Steele said.

"There is not one inch of ground that we're going to cede to anybody," he added.

"This is the dawn of a new party moving in a new direction with strength and conviction."

That vision is something that indicates he understand there are many areas of untapped voter potential for the GOP.

What's ahead?

Steele has a challenging set of tasks ahead. He's got to improve fundraising, ensure quality candidates for 2010 and beyond, and re-visit the infrastructure and the policies of the RNC to see what's working and what needs fixing. More importantly when Steele talks about making inroads into groups, one of those groups that has to be his starting point is conservatives. There is still a lot of disillusionment among conservative voters that the GOP has left them, or at least taken them for granted. The Republican party has image repair to do, by word and deed, to not only those on the outside but those who form or formed it's core constituency. The proof early on will be in the actions of the new Chair, both words and actions are required.

We've seen Michael Steele on the talk show circuit. He has the words, now let's see him put his ideas into a party in need of revitalization. I believe he can succeed, and I wish him luck. Or, to paraphrase Rush Limbaugh talking about another new leader, I can put it into four words 'I hope he succeeds'.

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