While I don’t agree with him on every issue, I have to like Michael Steele. The former Lt. Governor of Maryland is running for the leadership of the GOP. There have been rumblings from some “true believers” that, because of his work in reviving the moderate Republican Leadership Council (a group I support), he would make a bad leader for the Republican party. For a while, he was trying to distance himself from the RLC and all things moderate. Now he seems to be changing his tune:
“They have been beating me upside the head with it and let me give it to you straight on: Wake up people. I mean what are you going to do? Are you going to kick these folks out of the party? I have watched this party self disintegrate for the last four or five years. I’ve watched this party isolate itself from itself.”
“This may be a unique opportunity to build a relationship or a bridge between the conservatives and the moderates in our party and so she asked me to serve on her board and I said well this will be good. It’ll be a pro-life conservative voice on a board with a pro-choice leadership that is looking to elect moderates. We have to elect moderates in the party.”
I applaud Mr. Steele for showing some backbone and standing up to those who want to diss him because he dares to try to widen the party. But I have to sadly agree with Justin Gardner, I don’t think the people who really control the party are in the mood to really expand the party and actually make a case. In the view of many, anyone that isn’t sufficiently pro-life or incredibly anti-gay is not fit to be a proper Republican.
Social conservatives like to pretend that they have no power in the party. They love to play the part of victim (the Right knows how to play victim politics as well as the Left does) even though they have this party by the you-know-what. Case in point, many think John McCain wanted to pick either Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge for Veep, but the mere mention that he would consider a pro-choice candidate (both politicians from “blue states”) brought howls of protest from the “so-cons.” In the end he picked Sarah Palin, who was wonderful on their issues and fired-up social conservatives, but did little to win the center.
Still, Steele is to be commended for his honesty. It might have doomed his candidacy, but he still has his pride.
Bravo, Mr. Steele.