[Kamikaze] Message To Michael Steele | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Kamikaze] Message To Michael Steele

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Brad Franklin

You blew it. You caved, crumbled, buckled, tucked tail and ate crow.

At first I thought that Steele's appointment as GOP chairman was nothing more than ceremonial—arguably the most racially motivated appointment since Sheriff Bart in "Blazing Saddles." Imagine hearing a middle-aged man talking about injecting hip-hop into anything, let alone the Republican Party. Still, I wanted to give the guy a chance. I've been wrong before, so I hoped that Steele would help retool the Republican Party's image. The "party of Lincoln" needs a makeover, right?

Well, as with most brothers who ascend to great heights and new positions, he has been tested early. And he has earned himself a failing grade.

When faced with the historic opportunity to be a true leader and trailblazer, Steele cowered. When up against the prospect of expanding his party's umbrella, he folded. Just as I was prepared to give him a chance, Steele proved he lacks the cantaloupes to stand up to the fanatical conservative base—you know, the yahoos who have made the Republican Party about as popular as stock tips from Bernie Madoff.

Mr. Steele, you may have proved to be the patsy I feared you would be.

There you were, nestled firmly on D.L. Hughley's CNN program just moments after a rousing speech at Tavis Smiley's "State of Black America" Conference. I'm thinking, "I vote person not party." Always have, always will. And that speech may have motivated some African Americans to at least think about taking a look at your party's platform. I'm all for balance. I'm all for not having one party own the African American vote. You called out Rush Limbaugh for what he is: a charlatan. A charlatan with 20 million listeners. The same man who said he "hopes" Obama fails even after eight years of accusing the Democratic Party of allegedly doing the same thing to Bush. The same man who once told a listener to "take the bone out of his nose." The same man who said Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's Disease was an "act." The same man who could undermine your authority as head of the RNC.

So we waited.

We waited with baited breath to see if you would indeed stand by your words like a man. And you didn't. So you can cancel selling that bag of magic beans to the hip-hop community. Because across those borders there is no respect for a man who can't speak his mind and stick to it. Period. Until someone in the RNC stands up to publicity hounds like Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, those principles you espouse will never win any converts. (The same goes for the Dems and Jesse Jackson.)

The success of either party really depends on its ability to consistently wrangle in the crazies that exist at their extremes. As racial, political and social dynamics continue to change, as lines begin to blur, this country is heading more and more toward the center. Your success, Mr. Steele, rested on your ability to take on your base and drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century: a time when we have a black president, a female secretary of state and a country where a black man could take on a broken system to make change.

Everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs. We can all agree to disagree. But the majority of America doesn't think like Limbaugh—nowhere close to it. And if you're ever planning on improving your party's image you're going to have to quiet down that loud minority.

And that's the truth ... sho-nuff!

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