Friday, March 06, 2009

Michael Steele's Hip Hop Plan

In just a few short weeks Michael Steel has proven beyond a doubt that he is a hopelessy flawed leader with an impossible mission. In one of Mr. Steele's first proposals, he has indicated that he plans an "off the hook" public relations offensive to attract young Hispanics and Blacks. He has stated that he intends to apply conservative principles to urban hip hop settings. Mr. Steele appears to believe that he need only repackage his message in a way that will be more alluring to the demographic he desires to attract.

As has been most of the GOP strategies over the last several years, this one is remarkably flawed. Mr. Steele appears to believe that young Blacks and Hispanics attraction to the President is related to race and culture as opposed to policy. Were Mr. Steele truly in connection with that community he would have realized that President Obama is by no means a hip hop culture icon. President Obama is a supremely articulate Harvard Lawyer. The closest he comes to hip hop is wearing a designer business suit with no tie and his top button open. From the perspective of music culture, President Obama fits much better in the "jazz music cool" category than hip hop "off the hook". We can much more easily picture our President wearing a pair of dark shades strumming a base guitar than we can wearing baggy jeans and gold chains spewing street slang.

Unfortunately for Mr. Steele, he must operate in an environment that will not, and can not admit that policy is the driving force behind President Obama's youthful following. Admitting that "policy is the issue which creates the attraction" immediately begs the question whether the GOP is willing to question their current policies. Questioning GOP policies is extremely risky for Mr. Steele because the Party's brittle dogmatic base may view that as treason and turn on him en masse. The GOP base, particularly the Southern Evangelicals, have equated their policies to a set of opaque moral values which ultimately means that questioning Party policy is an attack on morality from their perspective.

Chairman Steele is in an unenviable position. His Party obviously felt that the reactionary pick of a Black Committee Chairman to a Black President would counter the Democrats dominance in the Black community. His impossible job is to promote a set of policies designed to favor the wealthy and corporate class, placate the dogmatists, and attract people of color to a Party culturally associated with the Confederacy. Compounding Steele's dilemma is the fact that his "less than stellar" political career indicates that he would likely struggle leading the GOP in the best of times.

Michael Steel may survive just long enough to be an effective scapegoat. Unfortunately for him, GOP leaders have discovered their error in assuming that choosing a Black Chairman would guarantee Black votes. They have also began to notice his conspicuously lacking administrative skills. It is not unreasonable to assume that a plan to unseat him has already been hatched and will be executed at first opportunity.

The irony in this political farce is that the anti-affirmative action Party selected a candidate for the RNC Chairmanship based almost solely on race and ended up with a seemingly incompetent Leader. Then again, maybe it was all just a devious well executed plan to discredit affirmative. Whatever the case, I doubt that Steele's "off the hook" hip hop plan will either bear a great deal of fruit or save his job.

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