Steele yourself for more embarassment



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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43 Responses

  1. Avatar Nob Akimoto says:

    The way to escape tokenism is to engage in tokenism?

    I’m not quite sure I see the thesis here. Steele simply doesn’t work because it’s not a serious attempt.Report

    • Avatar Will in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      Obviously, the GOP is not going to suddenly become the party of black people or whatever. But incremental changes in the right direction should be encouraged, in part because they presage more serious reform.Report

      • Avatar Nob Akimoto in reply to Will says:

        I don’t think you can get serious reform from what is essentially a political version of blackface.Report

        • Avatar Zach in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          To be fair, Steele’s been doing this so long it’s not an act anymore (if it ever was, that is, I don’t know the guy), having been involved in statewide campaigns in Maryland for some time. It’s not his fault that the real Michael Steele has become someone who’s always seeming to uncomfortably mimic black stereotypes.Report

  2. Avatar Ryan says:

    I think it’s worth pointing out that the GOP’s problem on the “cosmetic” end is that so many of its members – even the elected ones – are so openly racist. The Sotomayor hearing and the fixation on “wise Latina” was a pretty stark reminder that folks like Jeff Sessions just don’t like minorities.

    Whatever Michael Steele’s issues may be, the problem in the GOP runs a little deeper than tokenism.

    Also, notably, one of the major “cosmetic” changes that helped the Democrats is that all the Southern racists (cf. Strom Thurmond, et al) became Republicans.Report

  3. Avatar sidereal says:

    has since been changed from “What’s Up”

    Actually, it was the significantly more ‘clumsy and counterproductive’ “What Up”. Because the kids are, uh, hep and down wid it, I guess.

    But the answer is not, as some suggest, to stop trying. Attracting new constituencies takes effort.

    That’s true. But Steele wandering around like a jester calling people ‘slumdog’ isn’t effort. It’s quite easy. And lazy. It isn’t a path to anything. It’s pure Palinism. Replace substance with the right sequence of winks and gestures that communicate cultural solidarity, on the assumption that cultural solidarity is the most important determiner of political belief. Which seems to be the foundational assumption of the modern GOP.Report

  4. Avatar Curious says:

    Are you really suggesting disingenuous and deliberate revision of history as a legitimate means to electoral rebirth?Report

  5. Avatar EngineerScotty says:

    If the GOP needs wants to attract minorities, it needs to boot the racist themes–and theracists–out of the party. Period.

    No more Willie Hortons. No more calling the President a “boy”, or suggesting he’s a Muslim or a foreigner. No more thinly-veiled references to “welfare queens”, “illegal immigrants”, or similar terms which are widely understood to be putdowns for blacks and Latinos, respectively. No more English-only advocacy.

    There’s just one problem–it seems a significant percentage of the “base”–the folks who get out and vote–LIKE these attitudes, or at least are more than willing to tolerate them. It ain’t just a few retrograde congressmen from South Carolina, or a few blathering blowhards on the radio, or some dumb cracker from the Georgia backwoods who blames his unemployment on African-Americans. It’s a significant fraction of the party. And its encouraged and manipulated by the party’s power elite, who know that the best way to keep a downtrodden class from blaming the classes above for their condition, is to focus the blame on the classes below.Report

    • Avatar Kyle in reply to EngineerScotty says:

      I feel like the term illegal immigrant isn’t so much a putdown of Latinos as an accurate description of their status.Report

      • Avatar Ryan in reply to Kyle says:

        Hence the problem. A significant portion of the population just fundamentally doesn’t understand (or care) how offensive some of the things they say are.Report

        • Avatar Kyle in reply to Ryan says:

          You’re absolutely right, I don’t care.

          If you broke the law, you broke the law. I don’t think we need to develop euphemisms because it hurts someone’s feelings to be reminded of that uncomfortable fact.

          That term isn’t the whole of their worth as a human, it doesn’t degrade their value as a human being, it is, however, a consequence of their actions in a way that other slurs – except maybe harlot – aren’t.Report

      • Avatar EngineerScotty in reply to Kyle says:

        Perhaps not–but the terms tend to get used interchangeably.

        Point is, I suspect that many in the GOP base have bigger problems with Mexicans who come here legally, than they would with a Canadian who snuck across our northern border.

        I know lots of people who rant about illegals, and almost every time in my experience, what they are really ranting about are Mexicans.

        Mexicans know this–which is why so few of them vote Republican, despite a good many of them being politically conservative Roman Catholics who might otherwise agree with the GOP on many things.Report

        • Avatar Kyle in reply to EngineerScotty says:

          I have no doubt this is true, though to be fair Latino is a much broader category than Mexican. It’s just that when descriptive terms are then labelled “racist,” the effect isn’t to make people less racist, it’s just to make discussing immigration that much harder to do with any sense of reasonableness.

          Someone who’s actually racist (Tom Tancredo?) and complains about illegal immigrants becomes indistinguishable from someone not using the euphemism undocumented alien/immigrant, which is just that a euphemism. It’s unhealthy.Report

          • Avatar EngineerScotty in reply to Kyle says:

            Therein lies the rub. Is the guy on TV ranting about illegals really concerned about immigration law? Or is he really upset about the brown-skinned fellow putting a roof on his neighbor’s house?

            It’s hard to tell the difference. I suppose that one drawback of political correctness is that it has forced bigots to speak in code, so legitimate policy objectives (welfare reform, immigration reform, crime, etc) frequently get conflated with racist positions; in the old days, you could tell who the real bigots were because they’d be on TV ranting about n—-rs.

            Maybe what the GOP needs is a Pauline Hanson or a David Duke or a Le Pen, or some other unrepentant and open racist (despite numerous comparisons between her and Hanson, Sarah Palin isn’t it), to openly advocate racist policies from a sufficiently conspicuous platform, and lead the bigots out of the GOP to his/her side, much as the Pied Piper led the rats out of Hamlin–at which point, the GOP, having shed this ballast, could rebuild itself as a a respectable conservative party. I’m assuming, of course, that said party would remain a rump party much like the BNP or the One Nation party, and not be able to inflict any damage, at least not on the national level.Report

      • Avatar JosephFM in reply to Kyle says:

        Except, you know, when they’re not. Plenty of Latinos are US citizens. Illegal immigrants can’t vote. Heck, legal immigrants can’t vote either.

        I know it’s just an anecdote, but the Republicans managed to alienate even some of the usually-reliably-conservative Cuban-Americans with this stuff.Report

        • Avatar Kyle in reply to JosephFM says:

          Also true, to clarify I didn’t mean (all) Latinos = illegal immigrants, just that illegal immigrants = not legal immigrants, regardless of ethno-national origin.

          You’re right, I mean when you have a sheriff in Arizona who rounds people based on whether they look like immigrants or not – that’s offensive and ridiculous.

          I just think it poisons the debate when immigration becomes a proxy word for racism/support for Latinos because a loud number of xenophobes are using it that way. Surely not-crazy, not-xenophobic people can discuss immigration without it being a litmus test on racial relations.Report

          • Avatar EngineerScotty in reply to Kyle says:

            The other part of the matter is–for most non-racists, immigration (legal or otherwise) is simply a non-issue. I expect that the goverment ought to enforce immigration law and keep the streets swept, but I don’t consider either a pressing political issue, inasmuch as the government does indeed try to do both, with varying levels of success.

            The two constituencies for whom it really seems to matter are a) organized labor, who frequently view foreign labor as a threat (regardless of where it comes from), and b) racists. And like it or not, when rants about illegals come out of the GOP, it’s a fairly same bet that the speaker is not part of group a.Report

            • Avatar Kyle in reply to EngineerScotty says:

              True enough. I’m not going to stand up for the Republican party’s record on a.) discouraging racism and race baiting and b.) making arguments that don’t sound racist. It’s a poor record.

              That said, there’s an absolutely galling human cost to our broken border/immigration system and it’s ill served by the La Raza-Tancredo back and forth that serves as “debate” on cable news. I have as little use for rants about “Dey tuk er jeobs!” as I do rants on how border security is “racist.” Then again, I can see the border from my window and on any given day see as much of Mexico as I do of the United States, so in my case the local is also the international. I wonder how that fits into thoughts on localism…(paging E.D.)Report

      • Avatar nick.t. in reply to Kyle says:

        And you wonder why Latinos have looked at the GOP and decided that they have no desire to work with it?Report

        • Avatar Kyle in reply to nick.t. says:

          because they’re a monolith that all dislike the same things?

          aha if only I had looked at them as an over-sensitive interest group instead of a diverse assemblage of peoples whose ethnic and national backgrounds span three continents and a multitude of cultures and countries. How could I have been so blind?

          My refusal to stereotype and surrender factual terms to the bigots who abuse them was such an error. Thank you for your snarky rhetorical question. I have seen the light.Report

  6. Avatar Zach says:

    Is there a consulting firm that consists of a single clued in liberal who will scope out your web 2.0 attempt and let you know in advance what will draw ridicule? Seems like easy money.

    Also, “Change the game” is one word away from “Hate the game” which would actually be an interesting enough title, and I don’t see microsteele waltzing across my screen as has been reported. They’re getting closer outside of the many incredibly obese people appropriately serving as the O in GOP… I mean I think they already have Chris Cristie’s vote so I don’t see the point.Report

  7. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    I agree. Go read the answers at (especially question 4) and tell me this doesn’t sound a little optimistic.Report

  8. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Have you considered…..that the GOP constiuency is simply the product of inverse selection fitness?
    50 years of selection for people simply too stupid or too uneducated to understand either ToE or basic economics has resulted in a “low information” base that is simply not educatable?

    October 1st, 2009 at 12:29 | #28 Reply | Quote
    David Hume
    Telling people they are stupid won’t change their minds — especially if they are stupid
    this is a very good, and depressing point

    how does one presuade people that simply don’t have the substrate to be persuaded?Report

  9. Steele is one of the prime purveyors of what Will refers to as douchebaggery is all of politics. An easy path to the next step is to find a minority spokesman who’s not a douchebag.Report