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February 5th, 2009
05:34 PM ET

The New Men (and Women) of Steele

Editor's Note: Lenny McAllister shares his insight on the political issues at http://www.lennymcallister.com and is a member of the North Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee.

Lenny McAllister

Last night, my Young Republican Meeting was abuzz about Michael Steele's historic victory as the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee.

In Charlotte, our 70 member group of 18-40 year-olds is like the hundreds of other YR groups around the country. Unlike traditional Republicans, we tend to view race issues very differently. Unfortunately, we are not as diverse as we would like to be - at least not yet. We know that we have to change that , and we want to change that.

We are weary of the imagery of being the party that is exclusively rich, old, and White. We see that the election of Steele as a great opportunity for Republicans to create a new legacy, and show our link between ourselves and everyday America. We are ready for a new leader that can give a new image.

Chairman Steele is a media-savvy, eloquent politician that can present the Republican Party's positions regularly with a presence that was unmatched by his predecessor. Younger Republicans are excited to have a leader that exudes energy, affability, and strength without seeming exclusive and divisive.

The Obama campaign changed the way political races are run in America by incorporating non-traditional voters. These are traits that President Obama used to win, and we need those traits to strengthen the GOP.

The RNC could not have picked a better leader as they seek to become more relevant to a more diverse voting population. The very things that are criticized about the GOP --e.g., concern for minorities–are issues Steele knows about from his own life. Those experiences will enable him to attract new members and change the way the GOP is viewed by voters.

For now Steele may stand in the shadow of our country's first African-American president, but with a closer look, people will see that America has changed and, thus, the Republican Party is changing as well.

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. MIKE LAKE WORTH FLORIDA

    How transparent can the republican party get? No way would Steele been elected if McCain had won the election, no matter how qualified he may be. Just like Palin, being set up to play the fool.

    February 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  2. Mike

    A lot of ignorance on this thread. I really can't fault some of you though. I use to follow the same line of thinking, until I realized how much the democrat part uses blacks. We don't benefit from their big government program. We die because of them. Short-term benefit for long term suffering is all they've ever given us.

    If I had seen the light earlier I would have voted for Steele in '04 and I probably would have become more involved in his election. Back then I didn't understand anything about economics and I didn't understand how immoral it is to use other peoples money to fiance programs and things I wanted.

    We as black people need to stop basing our success and future on what the government or what white people do. That's the ultimate black militancy. Michael Steele has it and I respect him for it.

    February 7, 2009 at 7:06 pm |
  3. Mike in NYC

    Most blacks don't vote GOP because most blacks believe in big government. After all, they've benefited immensely from federal government actions over the past 50 years, not to mention the Civil War and Reconstruction. To attract more blacks, the GOP will have to move to the left on economic and "social justice" issues.

    Steele is an advocate of affirmative action, which is a betrayal of the GOP's traditional conservative White base, not to mention their proclaimed principles. Over the long run, the GOP will probably end up as a slightly more conservative version of the Democrats. Considering the way US demographics are moving, this will probably seal their fate as a permanent minority party. After all, why vote for Dem lite when you can have the real thing?

    Conservative White GOP voters will then have to choose - accept their party's abandonment of them, or leave and form a new party.

    February 6, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  4. Michael C. McHugh

    I used to be a conservative Republican, but the main reason they lost me forever was that they are too anti-labor, too much in bed with the rich and big business. A change of faces is not going to help them in that department. Now I would describe myself as a populist or a progressive, especially on economic issues, someone who really doubts that the crooks running Wall Street and corporate America are the "best people". They've led us to ruin. I'm not sure we can ever recover, at least not for many years. If the Republicans simply want to offer more of that, then they are dead in the water.

    February 6, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  5. Tina

    Go Republicans!

    February 6, 2009 at 6:36 am |
  6. Pammy

    Oh Wendy, your little backward town in Louisana is NOT the world or even reflective of the America. We saw how you folks handled Katrina. You completely overlooked the incompetent Mayor and Governor and blamed the President of the United States!! Do you realize that ALL the problems you had in the south, not having rights or access to edcuation was because of the democrates? I don't know how black's even continue to vote for them, but they do. Did you know that Pres. Johnson could not get enough democrates to vote for the Civil Rights bill of 1964, Gore's father did NOT vote for it and it took Republicans to get that bill passed. Did you know that? Now your following Gore and his hot-air.

    And poor Tre, I have NEVER heard the nonsense about Lincoln, BUT even if it were1/2 true or all true, what matters is what a man ultimately does with his life. Lincoln handled one of the biggest problems in American's history and took a bullet for. He knew they would kill him, democrates I believe, but he did the tough job anyway. Tre, what are you doing with your life, I hope it is not teaching LOL!!!

    Margaret as a fellow black female I am not sure what you are chuckling about, but I fear that one day you will be weeping because of this devasting action of voting in a man who was able to fool a segement of the population that did not even know anything about the issues, current events and unfortunately didn't even care or know to care.

    Annie Kate, you will probably have to go back to hiding under a rock so you won't have to hear anything that displeases you. Which might explain why you would even have considered voting such an empty-suit like Obama. You'll see. Of course, you will DENY it when you see it, but when that dim light comes on, remember this comment.

    Well I am done, GO MIKE STEELE!!! I am definitely ready to be a STEELE WORKER!!! Rah! Rah! LOL!!!!

    February 6, 2009 at 3:31 am |
  7. dbl.r Shreveport , LA.

    I think Michael Steele will not be greeted with open arms here . We still have some who believe we are still in the 20th century . I`m ashamed to have to be lumped in with idiots, just because I live among them .
    In Mississippi , Alabama , Tennessee it`s even worse .
    I wonder if he and David Duke will see eye to eye on anything . I think not . But hope springs eternal ....

    February 6, 2009 at 2:05 am |
  8. carbar

    Steele knew if Pres Obama became Pres it helped him for the chair. He knows they mimic what a winner (Dem) does eventually.

    Had McCain won he would not be RNC head negro in charge. Even after seeing the beating they took in '06 and '08 it still took them p[rejudice people three voting turns to pick him. He may garner 2% of minority membership and thats if Obama fails miserably.

    All people of color knows he's the poster child to get us into the fold and is being a puppet for the same Good Old Party – period.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:00 am |
  9. carbar

    History: Lincoln's party was not the GOP as we know it today, and it bugs me people don't know Dems had GOP ideas and vice versa back then. The switch of ideas came later and it was the old Dems that stopped blacks from voting because they joined the GOP which is the Dem ideas today because of Lincoln's emancipation to its extent.

    So when the GOP herals Lincoln it drives me crazy. But then again they know 95% of their base are not knowledgeable to start with.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:56 am |
  10. Tan

    We need to jump start the economy by passing the stimulus President Obama wanted. Many people I know have lost their jobs or will be out of work soon. Many business leaders and leading economists agreeing with the president as well as millions of people. I don't think we can afford politic as usual. People need job to pay for mortages and take care of their families. To the Congress...Do American People a favor by supporting the President passing the Stimulus Plan.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  11. Ron , West Coast

    I think Michael Steele has met his match in one David Duke ......
    Theres no way Duke and his cross burnin`, beer drinkin`, butt scratchin`, tobacco chewin`, rebel flag flyin`, Sarah Palin lovin` bigots will ever accept him as the chairman of the republican national committee ......
    The war between the states has begun again ! Those southern idiots will never let themselves be led by someone they consider as inferior to them . The GOP has gone and shot themselves in the foot again. Just like old John McCain did , when he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate in 08`. The thinking being that she would garner all the women votes that were for Hillary . Well we know how that bright idea turned out.
    Anyway , we all know that thinking is`nt the repubs strongest attribute .
    Michael Steele will finally realize that the republican party is not the party for him . Not just because he is black , as much as it is that he has a degree of higher intelligence than his " confederates "......

    February 6, 2009 at 1:07 am |
  12. connie

    IRepublicans sure hit the jack pot Steele Notttttttttttttttttttt,He ran for the senate in Maryland and was so ashame of his party that he put out bumpers stickers Steele Democrat for senate.He got a whole 4 percent of the votes. As Steele said How Do you like me now.And Martland replied not so good or that how we voted. He's no Obama just a want be.Republicans only pick him because President Obama won and they pick the I don't know what a VP job is but I'm excepting the offer Sarah Palin. because of H.Clinton.It want help them as long as The Good Boy run the party and the My Way OR The Highway the AMERICAN PEOPLE are not going for it any more. They have to move in to the 21 century and open up the party to all people. And listen to what the people want. Boy I am proud to be a Democrat and I am proud my party cares about working class people and not just the rich.

    February 6, 2009 at 12:33 am |
  13. Felton

    Palin is divisive and can you see how she handles this country and the other countries of the world.? Our imagin in the world stinks and the conservatives thinks that she, Joe the Plumber, Rush and Hannity will bring back our respect.

    February 6, 2009 at 12:16 am |
  14. Carl J

    Sara Palin, Michael Steel and Roland Burris should all send a huge Thank You note to Barack O'bama for their new notoriety status and jobs. He definitely brought change to all 3 of them.

    February 5, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  15. Anil S

    Just like McCain chose The Palin to get Hilarry votes , the GOP choose this Steel guy a dummy candidate to play their dirty tactics behind the scenes...

    February 5, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  16. ronald l. gigliotti

    RE: Michael Phelps So sorry to keep hearing about Michael Phelps private live. What happened to the land of the free! Are there that many among us that have never sinned or broke some out dated law in there life. I'm a retired Policeman from upstate N.Y. and the Government better get with the program and legalize something they can never ever stop and get some tax money out of it! In my over 20 years this drug in particular has never caused any problems but peace and tranquility. Most law Officers look the other way when confronted with small amounts because they know what a large scale it plays in the everyday lives of Good Americans! Yours Truly: woodstock ron: No I don't Smoke! Peace!

    February 5, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  17. Rebecca Ludwig

    This President broke every record when he got elected BY THE PEOPLE...I really believe that he deserves more respect from these Senators who are in opposItion to the simulus plan! Lets not forget that for the last 8 yrs they got us in this mess we are now in and I can't and won't accept business are usual by this idiots in the Senate that oppose my President! PLEASE LIST THE NAMES OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL THAT IS IN OPPOSITION ON YOUR SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    ANGRY AND FED UP WITH INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL NOT SUPPORT A PRESIDENT WHO IS TRYING TO HELP!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  18. Dorothy Morgan

    Can the Republicans ever come up with their own ideas. They have to be copy cats. McCain wanted a woman because it thought the Women voters was upset because Hilary did not become the Democratic Party Presidential Candidate. This also sound so familiar with President Barrack was running for Senator in Illinois, when the Republicans decided to found another toten black man from Maryland. Steele that is all that you are and all that you will ever be. The Republicans know that you are a toten. They seem to think because the Country voted for a black man, let's us find a black man to be head of our Party. I believe and I know that we are more smarter and educated than that. Your tactics have not changed. Republicans your stripes are still there. You might think you are hiding them, but they are still visisble. I was born and raised in the South. I know what Corporate America is about. The Good Old Boys you call them. You can fool so of the people some of the time, but you will not fool all of the people all of the time. I am so thankful for the internet, so that I can vent some of my frustrating. It is a releasing mechanisms. Racisms is still alive and well. I feel sorry for you Steele because you think you have arrive and that you are bigger than life right know. I am glad that it is you and not I. You might think you are working in the Big House, but the truth, you are still been seen as a Field Hand.

    February 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  19. Kristen-University Park, PA

    Steele may be qualified but really this seems more like the Republicans trying to buy support from minorities than them really changing.

    This is the same party that months ago sent out a Christmas song "Barack the Magic Negro" and now they "vote" the parties 1st African American chairman.

    In John McCains words "Thats not change, thats more of the same". Politics as usual with them.

    February 5, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  20. Wendy

    Poor, Lenny you just don't get it. Steele is not going to garner any minority vote, when Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Joe The Plumber, and Ann Coulter are considered the "face" of the Republican party. Republican just don't under stand that people are tired of the trickle down effect and big business first.

    In my small home town in Louisiana Micheal Steele cannot even attend a meeting at the local Country Club because it is still an all white establishment. They won't even bury blacks and whites in the same cemetry. This country is getting browner and more education. The Republican party is never going to embrace immigration, pro-choice, and issues related to middle class citizens.

    There is not one single black republican in Congress. Minorities realize that under the Democratic Party it is not a dream but a reality that their child can be President of the United States.

    February 5, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  21. Larry

    Yep, not a nasty word ever came from the lips of a democrat towards Sen. McCain, Gov. Palin, President Bush, VP Cheney. The democrats don't have a spiteful bone in their body, infact they even welcome one of their own, HRC, back into their loving arms.

    February 5, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  22. Philoan Tran - Houston

    I am sure that Michael Steele is very qualified for his job as Chairman of the Republican party; however, this is a farce on the part of the GOP to save its image after 8 years of Bush's failure and a shameful presidential loss. The GOP does NOT believe in racial or gender equality. In reality, there are many and many GOPs who are still stuck in the racist mentality and would never accept Mr. Steele. There are counties in East Texas and Mississippi (etc. in the South) where they still believe in lynching any minority or who is not a white trash (if only they could get away with it). Did you not see the crazy people in McCain/Palin's Republican crowds who yelled nasty and scary things about President Obama?

    February 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  23. c,ca

    The Republicans are sending mixed messages. On one hand they appoint Michael Steele as their Chairman, but on the other hand they say that Palin is their future and they have Joe The Plumber giving them advice. Palin is a right-wing, Christian, extremist and Joe the Plumber is an idiot. How is this moving the Party forward?

    Steele looks like a token to pander to minority voters. I don't think people are that stupid.

    February 5, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  24. Stan from California

    Nice victory for minorites in politics, but this seems like the Palin pick. Lame a$$ Republicans.

    February 5, 2009 at 8:56 pm |
  25. sandra shuck

    I have heard him on TV-very knowledgeable and really can move people with his intelligence.
    Very impressed-

    February 5, 2009 at 8:27 pm |
  26. Isabel Abreu, Brazil

    The US, a historically racist country, is changing. This means a great victory against prejudice. But we must go further, breaking the racism that is in the customs of many people, far beyond the White House and the Republican National Committee.

    February 5, 2009 at 8:01 pm |
  27. Annie Kate

    I have a list of people I don't want to hear news about – Joe the Plumber (although him saying the US people did not deserve him was the truest thing I have ever heard but in the opposite sense in which he said it), Paris Hilton, George Bush, Dick Cheney, OJ Simpson and Warren Jeffs. I've had my fill of them to last from now to eternity. I would like to see some international news – there is more than the Middle East and the US in this world.

    February 5, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  28. Larry

    I'm hoping that La. Gov. Jindal will be the GOP candidate in 2012. Sure, he's not an old guy eg: Obama & Steele, but he's building an impressive resume politically and educationally.

    I guess the dems will be going with Obama, AGAIN.

    I see another Obama nominee, Hilda Solis, has TAX problems; what a surprise.

    February 5, 2009 at 7:58 pm |
  29. tre

    Republican ARE the party of Lincoln, thats what worry me the most. I think if you dig deeper into who Abrahamn Lincoln really was republican wouldn't be so quick to associate themselves so proudly with him. When my father was a young boy he ran moonshine for a man who he said was apart of the klu klux klan and Lincoln allowed the blacks to fight in the civil war, and he defeated the south because of it. Are you starting to get the picture Im painting, God is the reason blacks are free and he is the reason Barack is president because he created the circumstances for these great things to happen, these men were only stepping stones.

    To God be the Glory
    Tre

    February 5, 2009 at 7:50 pm |
  30. Margaret

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. This young black female got a nice chuckle from this one!

    February 5, 2009 at 7:12 pm |
  31. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I am part of that young Republican blood (eeking it out at almost 41). It was so exciting to see Mr. Steele in charge. I have been a Republican all my life, and I'm glad we've finally entered the 21st century in his selection and in supporting a woman VP on the party presidential ticket. In Louisiana, we elected the first Indian-American Republican governor, Bobby Jindal. That was pretty exciting in and of itself in terms of changing the face of the party. We're not as backward thinking as the Dems would love to project us as being. Republicans are the party of Lincoln after all. I do look forward to seeing how we grow and evolve better and stronger under the leadership of Michael Steele. That will truly be change I can believe in.

    February 5, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  32. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    I wonder how many y\budding young idiots like G W Bush and Sarah Palin were in that crowd.

    February 5, 2009 at 6:47 pm |