If you haven’t been following the recent drama involving RNC Chairman Michael Steele and too-much-of-a-religious-nut-to-be-RNC-chairman Ken Blackwell, then let me give you a quick overview…
Steele and Blackwell are two of the rarest individuals on earth: African American Republicans. Though they both belong to the same party, Steele is fairly moderate (by GOP standards) while Blackwell is a complete right-wing nutjob who hates gays and thinks women should have zero control over their own reproductive systems.
They both ran for RNC chairman this year – along with a couple of old, racist white guys.
The election process was far from simple and easily decided. It was long and drawn out and Blackwell actually stuck it out for a few rounds. But when it looked like Steele was going to win and Blackwell had absolutely no chance left, Ken threw his support behind Mike – who eventually pulled off the win.
It was a big day for Michael Steele and for the Republican party. To the outside world it showed that the party might actually be willing to address the issues of mainstream America and might actually find some support among regular, working-class Americans and not just crazy, religious nutjobs.
Unfortunately for Mike (and the party), the victory was short lived and every day since has been a crazy, uncontrollable ride downhill on an old, rusted-out radio flyer.
First Steele was attacked by Rush Limbaugh over some anti-Rush comments. And now he’s being attacked by former-supporter Ken Blackwell over some very reasonable and moderate comments about gays and abortion.
In a recent Townhall interview Ken Blackwell attacked Steele for his non-crazy views. According to Ken, “Chairman Steele, as the leader of America’s Pro-Life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work — or get out of the way.”
I’m not going to go into the reasons this comment by Blackwell is completely and totally nuts. (in short: the bible and constitution say absolutely nothing about abortion or homosexuality.)
I think it’s sufficient to say that Steele was elected RNC chairman because he promised a more moderate approach that would expand the appeal of the party to regular Americans. But it looks like this approach – which I really do believe could save the Republican Party from extinction – is going to piss off so many ultra-conservatives that Mike will have to either abandon it or get kicked out of his position. And without a moderate voice at the helm, the Republican party will quickly find itself in the same position as The Greens or The Libertarian Party i.e. fucked.
Fucked for one reason and one reason alone: the rest of the party is afraid to stand up to selfish wingnuts like Blackwell and Limbaugh who are totally and completely out of touch with mainstream America.
If you are a Republican and you are looking for someone to blame for your recent electoral misfortunes, I recommend you write Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Blackwell a letter telling them both to shut the fuck up or to ‘get out of the way’.
Otherwise you can kiss your party goodbye.
Now, before you decide to write off my opinion as the wishful thinking of a liberal blogger, please consider the fact that David Frum also thinks ultra-conservatives are pushing away moderates and marginalizing the GOP. According to Frum (the Bush speechwriter who coined the phrase ‘axis of evil’):
“My main problem with talk radio is things you’re doing to excite a loyal audience are very different than things you do to try to win back the departed middle” of the electorate. “We can’t win elections by getting our core voters agitated. But if you’re a talk radio host and you have 5 million who listen and there are 50 million people who hate you, you can make a nice living. If you’re a Republican Party, you’re marginalized.”