The symbolism of Michael Steele's new job
Writing in The Hill’s online publication, Texas Republican polling company owner David R. Hill said the symbolic value of Michael Steele’s selection as Republican National Committee chairman has proven to be of limited value in the early weeks of Steele’s tenure, and that Steele's success will rest on substance.
“While Michael Steele seems like a good and decent man, worthy of respect and honor, we have to be frank and admit that his selection was driven by symbolism,” Hill writes. “Like African-Americans who have fallen into the trap of one-party politics, Republicans have wandered into an ambush of one-upmanship on race. The Democrats gave you a black president; we’ll give you a black party chairman. Michael Steele didn’t have the most party administrative experience. He didn’t have the coolest technology plan. He didn’t even necessarily have the best story to tell about why he’s a Republican. Yet we chose him, because we wanted to send a symbolic message about race.”
Hill continues: “Eventually, Steele will be a fine chairman. He’s doing a thorough job of evaluating the party’s bureaucratic structures. And he’s welcoming new faces into that process. These are hopeful first steps that will doubtless be followed by others. He clearly wants to succeed and has the skills to do so. But it’s a little ugly in the unfolding. And when all is said and done, Steele will succeed on substantive issues rather than symbolic imagery. Centrists, liberals and minorities are not going to be fooled into rethinking our party just because we have a black chairman. It’ll actually take some substantive shifts to successfully woo any of those votes to our side.”
Hill concludes that Republicans should be “leaving symbolic politics to the Democrats." To read the full piece, click here.