The Republican Party is at a fork in the road.And the events of the past 10 days have propelled two of its leaders into prominent positions as it gets ready to choose its way. Each of these men exemplifies a direction that the party can take.On one side of the road stands Michael Steele, the newly elected party chairman, who is charismatic, conservative, media savvy, and, incidentally, a person of color.On the other side of the road stands Rush Limbaugh, a crude and mean-spirited individual who gets rich by playing to base fears and likes to joke about "negroes."
(As Ross Perot once said about Rush and his kind: "I don't listen to talk radio; I work for a living.")Now some may argue that the GOP really doesn't need to choose: that it can put Steele in as a figurehead chairman, and let Limbaugh and Hannity and Dobson and the other knuckle-draggers peddle fear and hate and division beneath the radar.
Maybe. But in the U.S. of A., getting elected is still a matter of numbers.
And while there are still a bunch more voters with white skin than dark skin, the dark-skinned among us are catching up.
Demography doesn't lie. Maybe the recession will dilute the effects of immigration for a time. But we are still on our way to a postracial, multihued society.
We didn't need Audacity's election to tell us that. Karl Rove and George W. Bush and Ken Mehlman have been preaching it for the past 10 years. In fact, W did a pretty good job of winning elections in Texas, and nationally, by asking big chunks of those darker-skinned Americans to vote their values, and their wallets, instead of their ethnic identity.
Because we need a Republican Party—if only to keep pointy-headed, do-gooding liberal Democrats (God bless 'em) from turning the governing of this free and magnificently disorderly country into a huge and loathsome, immensely boring PTA meeting—I am glad the GOP leaned toward the more enlightened fork by choosing Steele.
But does Steele's election signify a real change of direction and the full embrace of the Rove-Bush-Mehlman strategy, or is it merely window dressing? To use the old broadcasting chestnut, Only Time Will Tell.
I do know this: The Rush fork will lead them to disaster.
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