I hate to be cynical, and I certainly hate to drag the issue of race back into the public debate while President Obama and literally millions of Americans of good will are working so hard to put this ugly issue behind us, but where I come from we believe in calling a hat a hat. And the fact is, the Republican Party's selection of Michael Steele as the very first Black chairman of the Republican National Committee in its 153-year history, just reeks of political manipulation.
But I'm virtually certain that my Republican friends are going to say, "We just can't win-first you criticize us for not being inclusive enough, now you're criticize us for electing a Black man as head of the party. Exactly what do we have to do to make you happy?"
Well, I can't answer for the rest of America, but I can answer for myself. What I would personally like to see is a Republican Party that INCLUDES minorities, not use them–and I think that's exactly what's going on with Steele-he is being used, even though it's with gleeful delight on his part–but that's exactly why the effort is going to fall flat on its face.
One of the Republican Party's biggest assets is also its greatest liability–it's clumsy. The party leaders are so out of touch with any reality other than the acquisition of power and wealth that they're totally oblivious to how clumsily transparent the elevation of Steele actually is. But their clumsiness and lack of finesse is also they're greatest asset, because many people in this country (and I'm sure I'm going to hear from them) simply refuse to believe the Republican leaders are so dumb that they think they can fool anyone with such a ploy, so the accept the gesture as sincere.
But anyone with an ounce of sense can see that this is a gimmick. Republicans were defeated so badly in the last election, and Obama is so popular, that they figure Black must be the political flavor of the season, so they went out and "got them one"–it didn't matter who, just long as his skin was dark. But again, they're so politically jaded that they're completely out of touch with the American people.
The American people didn't elect President Obama because he's Black, they elected him because he demonstrated that he was an intelligent, competent, statesman. He was also elected so overwhelmingly because for the past eight years the Republican Party has clearly demonstrated that it was overflowing with corruption, incompetence, and greed. So while it's hard for the RNC to believe, for the very first time, we had an election that was based strictly on the issues and relative competence, and not race.
But back to the RNC's failure to understand the American people. If part of the Republican calculation was that by making a Black man head of the Republican Party it's going to help their numbers in the Black community, they're going to be sadly disappointed. In fact, they've hurt the Republican brand even more. If they'd ever taken the time to truly get to know the Black community, they would have known that the only thing more toxic to Black people than a flat-out racist, is a Black conservative, with the notable exception of Colin Powell-because we suspect he's not truly conservative, just loyal.
Most Black people have very little use for Black conservatives. It's not that we disagree with everything they say, but because we're suspect of the reasons they're saying it.
Without exception, every Black conservative I've come across is an opportunist. Their conservatism tends not to be so much grounded in their actual philosophy as it is an opportunity to gain exposure. They realize that conservatives are looking high and low for Black people who will step forward to validate their views towards the Black community. So they gleefully allow themselves to be used in return for personal wealth, position, and notoriety.
Clarence Thomas is a case in point. There is no way that a man of his renowned level of mediocrity should be sitting on the highest court of this land–he shouldn't even be allowed to sit in traffic court. But due exclusively to his willingness to validate the conservative view of Black America, he's been given one of this nation's highest honors. Thus, most Black people look upon Thomas precisely the same way as White American's look upon a man guilty of treason against the United States–and other Black conservatives are not far behind.
Why? Because most of these people would have voted against the Civil Rights Act for their own personal gain if they'd had the chance. And to demonstrate how transparent they are, Thomas took the unprecedented action of lobbying his colleagues to except a meritless challenge to Barack Obama's eligibility to become president, but he didn't say a word as the Supreme Court literally appointed George Bush president after the 2002 election.
People like Thomas tend to be self-serving, and wholly lacking in character. Black people have suffered with a long history of such people, going all the way back to slavery. These were the very same people who would inform on slaves who were trying to escape to freedom: "I don't know what's wrong wit him, boss. Ya jest can't get him to appreciate nothin' you do for us. What he needs is a real good beatin'. Want me to do it?"
But I guess one could say, that's a gross generalization. How can you justify putting that baggage on Michael Steele? Well, a Wikipedia article points to some of his activities during his 2006 run against Benjamin Cardin for the Paul Sarbane's U. S. Senate seat:
"The Washington Post reported that on election day the Steele campaign arranged for buses of low income people from Philadelphia to distribute fliers at polls. The flyers contained incorrect information, including a statement that Michael Steele was endorsed by prominent state Democrats and African American leaders who had not, in fact, endorsed him. The homeless people were falsely identified as volunteers although they were paid, and the campaign funds used for this purpose of hiring the homeless were not timely or properly reported or attributed to the campaign".
Then, "Just prior to beginning his campaign Steele defended former Gov. Bob Ehrlich's decision to hold a $100,000 fund-raiser at a country club that did not have any non-White members, saying that the club's membership's policies were "not an issue" because "I don't know that much about the club, the membership, nor do I care, quite frankly, because I don't play golf.'"