The paradox of the Black Republican pt 4
They tried that once and this is what
Michael Steele's No Substance Strategy
by Matt Stoller, Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 02:50:55 AM EST
I'm watching Maryland politics with tremendous interest. On the heels of Al Wynn's stolen election, I see Michael Steele attempting to run a campaign entirely based on African-American resentment of Democratic fecklessness and institutional racism. Gregory Kane at BlackAmericaWeb sums up this attitude.
So, once again, black folks in Maryland got chumped by the Democratic Party.
Think of it as a quadrennial tradition. In 2002, Maryland's Democratic Party chumped black folks. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, then lieutenant governor of Maryland who was running for governor as a Democrat, overlooked dozens of qualified black Democrats to choose a white running mate.
Republican candidate Robert Ehrlich, then a congressman, chose Michael Steele, a black Republican, as his running mate. Ehrlich is now governor of Maryland, running for a second term. The first black candidate elected to statewide office in Maryland -- lieutenant governor -- was a black Republican, not a black Democrat.
This year, two black Democratic candidates ran for statewide office. Former congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume ran for a U.S. Senate seat. Stuart Simms, a former Baltimore state's attorney who headed both the state departments of juvenile services and correctional services and public safety, ran for attorney general of Maryland.
Last week, both Mfume and Simms lost, rejected by the majority of Maryland's Democrats. And what were the Republicans doing? What the Democrats failed to do in 2002: Making history.
By this time, Republicans are saying "been there, done that" regarding putting a black candidate on the gubernatorial ticket. They've moved on to making a black candidate running on his own the party's nominee for a statewide office.
And what are Maryland Democrats doing? Like I said before, chumping black folks.
The rejection of both Mfume and Simms should provide Maryland's black Democrats with some food for thought and prompt some questions. And the first question should be why white Maryland Democrats don't vote for black Democratic candidates for statewide office in the same proportion black Maryland Democrats vote for white candidates for statewide office.
This resentment isn't fake, and it could have political resonance. Political and social icon Russell Simmons endorsed Steele, and the anger at Mfume's loss in the primary might boomerang. At the same time, Michael Steele's signs are identifying him as a Democrat. He's not talking about Iraq, taxes, social justice, or anything substantive, and has called George Bush 'my homeboy'.
Michael Steele's campaign is that of a dilettante, completely devoid of real political discussion. It's sort of working, with the polls tightening in Maryland. Before Cardin's primary win, it was conventional wisdom that Cardin would just kill Steele, and that Mfume was the less viable of the two. I supported Mfume in the primary because I never bought this line, and while I don't expect Steele to win this, it's important to realize that the resentment that Steele is playing on is very real. Despite a very large cash advantage, Cardin only narrowly beat Mfume, 43.8 to 40.4 in the primary. Cardin's a good guy, and a real progressive, but he's an insider who is tied into the Hoyer machine and isn't the heroic candidate-type that plays well in 2006.
First, as I told Matt, Kane is the house conservative at the Baltimore Sun. I exchanged e-mails with him over the summer. So this is his pitch to see how stupid black people really are.
Sure, there are some people frustrated with the Democratic Party, but the fact is that Steele has no appeal to black voters except on color. He has to play the race card, but leave out his alliances to some of the most reactionary elements in the GOP.
People may even say that they might vote for him, the same way you say you might sell your
Escalade for a Lexus, but it never really happens.
Black Republicans face a true paradox. On one hand, they belong to a party which demands total feality. Any black Republican who falls from grace is soon shoved aside like Armstrong Williams or Claude Allen. The feality demanded of them borders on degregation, so they have to justify their stands in bizzare, and often demeaning ways.
Kane, who rarely, if ever, raises his voice against the white Republicans who ensure his career, wants black Democrats to turn on their own interests on the basis of race alone. Yet, they assure their white patrons that they are colorblind, like Shelby Steele, even suggest that they should no longer feel guilt about racism.
They subvert the language of black nationalism to coopt it for a subservient agenda. They say the Dems founded the Klan, that blacks are being treated unfairly, stomping their feet and hoping people will be fooled by their arguments. They want blacks to carry out the goals of the GOP, so they can finally be relieved of the social isolation which results when they let people know they were Republicans.
Which is why they rely on the image of the plantation to degrade black Democrats. They use this term to reflect the contempt and weakness many blacks view them with. So they try to turn the tables. Only problem is that they cannot come to the black community on issues, so all they have is a racial appeal, the kind that Dems have not used in 20 years. When Black Democrats ask for votes, they appeal on issues, not skin color.
The problem is that the GOP doesn't respect blacks, period. Ken Mehlman did his outreach bit, but Tom Tancredo is as popular as ever. And it was GOP members who wanted to undermine the Voting Rights Act.
Black Republicans like to say on the sly "he's really a brother", meaning he's really gonna stick up for us. Which, of course, never turns out to be true. Steele's lack of character is already established.
Because, unlike the frustrated voters posters mentioned in another thread, they know their agenda is more involved. Steele would be a shitty candidate regardless of color. Just because Erlich picked him, he's done little to help him run for office and if it wasn't for the national party, Erlich would have let him fail without so much as a smile.
Black Republicans would deny it, howl when you say it actually, but many of them simply have a problem in being black. Look at LaShawn Barber. She says nothing when white supremacists comment on her site. She defends white racists. What kind of self-esteem issues are going on there?
A lot of these people want to feel special, different than other blacks. They aren't comfortable in their skin. Now, some would deny it, but how come they always defend their patrons, no matter how racist their comments or offensive their actions. There's something going on there which makes them seem off or odd. They revile people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton but consider Condoleeza Rice a role model. The Condoleeza Rice who doesn't remember the civil rights movement.
Clarence Thomas is the archtype of this.
He looked for support from black groups and got it, based mostly on skin color. Even Anita Hill was denied support by these same groups. They were working on the idea that a black voice would explain and defend our perogatives. They didn't even have to wait until he got on the court to know that wasn't going to happen. During the testimony, he described his sister as a loser on welfare. In reality, she was a nurse's aid caring for a sick aunt. Rolled her right under the bus to look good in front of white people. That ended the relationship between him and black America, and in the 15 years since, he's been a man without a country.
A mediocre justice, more joke than jurist, he is the shame of black America, a man who had every advantage and used it to harm people.
But going back to Kane's original point, Steele is an affirmative action hire in the worst sense, a politician with no spine, no ideas, just a party man in an expensive suit. No one can say that about even Al Wynn. The quality of black Democratic candidates is much, much higher. Kweise Mfume was a former Congressman and head of the NAACP. Steele would be lucky to run for the General Assembly if he didn't have other uses.
That racial appeal made by Kane shows a contempt for black intellect, the idea that many black voters are emotional children, and people who have never shown solidarity now expect it without question. But black voters have moved beyond that. Solidarity doesn't trump issues. At some point Steele, who will lose white votes anyway, will have to discuss issues other than puppies. And then he'll sink like Swann, who's running an issue free campaign as well, and Blackwell, who's issues are so wingnutty he's scaring the crap out of people
posted by Steve @ 1:31:00 AM