Friday, January 30, 2009

Turning The Corner On Race, Religion And Politics

Or What Michael Steele May Mean To The Conservative Movement

Michael Steele, the former Lt. Governor of Maryland, has achieved the mantel of Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Already, the mainstream media is maneuvering to minimize the significance of the event with the sort of social impunity to which conservatives have become far too accustomed. Conservatives have taken it on the chin with a grin because we have understood that ours is a battle fought perpetually uphill, and we have exhaustively dodged the boulders rolling towards us - released by fearful liberals at the top of the hill - with a dogged determination that would make Gandhi curse with envy. The delicious irony is not lost on me.

Being a white, middle-aged male, I have become nearly numb to the vitriol hurled my way by a foe who has enjoyed immunity from the label of hater despite the viciousness with which they have attacked those of my ilk. It simply became fashionable and thus acceptable. I get it. Now, I have the occasion to wonder whether that same foe will demonstrate a similar grace when the tables are turned.

For as long as I can remember, the minority vote has gone nearly ninety percent for whatever democrat candidate was running in whatever race, be it local, state or nation wide. And yet I have noticed that those very minorities who vote for the most liberal of candidates are, by nature of their overt religiousness, the most socially conservative amongst us. Clearly, there is some disconnect at work.

Far be it from me to accuse religious blacks of being easily duped by slick politicians, but many of my conservative brethren from "fly-over country" have been publicly excoriated by both politicians on a national scale and by television media types for that very reason. Because they were white country folks, it was considered great sport to portray them as stupid, gun-toting rednecks. Hard as I try, I cannot excuse such behavior.

We have been led to believe that the election of Barack Obama was a proud moment for blacks in the US and the world over, and I believe there may some validity to that sentiment. But I also have to wonder how many blacks would publicly agree with many of his views as pertain to God and social mores in general. In other words, blacks and whites who believe in God and morality are much more closely aligned than the opinion-shapers would like. If racial harmony was truly the ultimate goal, what better rallying cry could there be than to embrace the conservatism both races so clearly cherish? Why have we been continually kept apart and at odds?

Enter Michael Steele as RNC Chairman. There will no doubt be a concerted effort to portray him as an enemy to the advancement of blacks, and many blacks will enthusiastically cheer on this effort. They will not realize the error of their ways, at least I predict, and will gleefully join in the tearing asunder of this good and honorable man, when it should be abundantly clear he shares the values that most blacks share in their private lives.

The media will attempt to paint Steele's ascension as a token gesture of the "all-white" republican party, a misnomer to be sure. Too many will simply nod and accept that assessment, but blacks should consider what it truly means to be a conservative because many of their number fall under that description...they just may not be aware that it is perfectly fine to let it be. To be sure, it is certainly acceptable to be appalled at the antics of some pols, but our ideologies are too similar to fight anymore.

Michael Steele is a good man and a good politician (an oxymoron, I know), who can unite the conservative movement for once, blurring the lines of "race". It is okay to be a conservative.

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