Earlier today, the Republican National Committee made history by electing Michael Steele as their first ever elected Republican Party Chairman. Steele was the former Lt. Governor of Maryland who lost a bid for the U.S. senate in 2006 to Congressman Ben Cardin. Steele is a decent and likable man, who once spent three years in a Roman Catholic seminary in study to become a priest, but then decided to attend law school and later entered Maryland state politics.
In the 2008 general election, only a mere 4% of African American voted for John McCain. And the conservative views of Steele are unlikely to sway many more votes from this community. However, Steele is a great communicator and certainly puts a polished image on some tired old Republicans ideas such as individual health insurance bank accounts or other old retreaded traditionally Republican ideas. However in other areas, such as affirmative action, Steele seems to recognize that some level of government action is needed to address inequality and to equalize the playing field.
The election of Steele is probably the most positive event for the GOP since their 2008 election drubbing by the voters. However, it is not really clear whether Steele is as effective of a manager as the party really needs right now or whether he can help to move the party towards a more centrist stance on some issues to attract more voters or not. Steele certainly has a major challenge ahead of him. Steele is also going to have to quickly decide if the role of the Republican congressional opposition against the economic stimulus legislation is harmful to the party's image or not. To many voters angry about job losses or other economic losses, such actions look merely as political.
Michael Steele now leads a party suffering from both public image problems as well politically unpopular stances on many issues only complicated by the bad aftertaste of George Bush. Steele certainly has some major work to do to rebuild his party.
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