Last week, after six ballots, the Republican Party elected its first
African American party chair in the history of the party, former
Maryland Lt. Governor, Michael Steele. This new “lovefest” with
black America is almost too much to handle. First, a black president
- now a black Republican Party Chair. We
just don’t know what to do with ourselves and all this “new love.”
Is it really new love, or is it the set up for the “big payback”?
Well, we know the election of President Obama was essentially an act
of desperation (masked as “Hope”) for many independents and closet
Republicans, given the alternative the nation was presented with
(McCain-Palin). We also know President Obama is going to have a
very short honeymoon with the American public. He has had no honeymoon
with the Republicans as they began to attack him on his second day
in office and have declared that they will re-establish their party
identity on the back of his economic stimulus package.
It ain’t like the Republicans are a part of this Obama “lovefest.” Remember,
the South (except for Florida), mostly Republican, went solid for
McCain. We understand the underlying party sentiment. So, why the
huge jump to a black party chair? Are the Republicans trying to
court Blacks? Did they learn something from the Democrats? It’s
not like African Americans haven’t had a black party chair before.
forget the late Commerce Secretary, Ron Brown, was responsible for
rebuilding a torn-down Democratic Party, demoralized after 12 years
of Reaganism (eights year of Reagan and what looked like it was
going to be eight years of Bush I). Brown took a party that couldn’t
win a national election if they were the only one in the race, capitalized
on a Republican party split (Bush-Ross Perot,) and walked a small
state hillbilly (a “Bubba” by his own admission) right up the middle
to the door of the White House (Clinton in 1992).
The Brown chairship was long overdue because African Americans had been
long-term stakeholders in the Democratic Party. However, that is
not the case for the Republican Party, who likes to tout itself
as “the party of Lincoln” (responsible for the abolishment of slavery
and a dozen years of Reconstruction that produced the 13th, 14th
and 15th Amendments). Even when it was Lincoln’s “Radical Republicans,”
blacks weren’t in the leadership. What we do know is, whenever there
is a black out front in the “new” Republican Party (the party that
embraced the Dixiecrats after they bolted from the Democratic Party,
when the Democratic Party supported civil rights legislation in
the 1960s), there’s some trickaration in the game.
The Republican Party has used so-called new Black Conservatives to either
roll back social welfare legislation (Clarence Thomas, or Ward Connerly)
or roll out corrupt foreign policy “warhawk” positions (Colin Powell,
Condolezza Rice). When Oklahoma House Rep. J.C. Watts had “pulled
himself up by his own bootstraps” into a seniority posture to hold
a house leadership position, he was soundly thwarted for no legitimate
reason. It hurt his feelings so badly, he retired. He had “drunk
the kool-aid” as chief ideologue, Rush Limbaugh, likes to say.
like Clarence Thomas and Colin Powell, had taken the “personal responsibility”
pill, became “colorblind,” and advanced the rhetoric - until he
wanted access to the party’s leadership. Then he found his party
wasn’t so colorblind. Colin woke up and endorsed Obama - Clarence
is still colorblind, and doing plenty of damage in the process.
So, what’s really behind this sudden epiphany the Republicans have
had that would suggest that Steele is the right man, at the right
time, for this party? Okay, now…we’re all supposed to be “Boo Boo,
the fool,” right? The Republicans have seen “the light” by electing
this moderate ideologue to advance this reconstructing party’s new
No, the Republicans are back to their old tricks. They don’t know how
to attack President Obama and not make it look “racial.” It’s like
trying to have an alcoholic attack alcohol, it’s just not going
to work. This “same race” play was used to replace Thurgood Marshall
with an ideologue, and effectively deconstructed affirmative action
with a blackface spouting ideological demagoguery.
The Republicans have put Steele up to be the party’s attack dog on Obama,
and hope to attract some black folks in the process. How many of
us want to see two brothas up there, fighting each other for parties
that have historically cared little about African Americans? The
Republicans know there’s dirty work to be done for the party to
reclaim any prominence in the White House or the Congress. They’ve
tapped Michael Steele to help them get their country back. An old
trick, with a new face. The race play of all race plays, a convenient
opportunity for Steele.
Did the Republicans just happened to elect their first-ever black party
chair at the same time the country just happened to elect its first
black president? What a coincidence. Or, was it a cheap trick to
undermine the country’s sincere change in direction on racial politics?
You make the call, but the timing couldn’t be more suspect.
Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national columnist, managing director
of the Urban Issues Forum
and author of Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is AnthonySamad.com.
to contact Dr. Samad.