I don’t know if this was a surprise to anybody with a clear understanding of the black community’s relationship with the Republican Party. But in a speech at DePaul University in Chicago, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele admitted that for the past forty years the party of the conservatives had a southern style strategy that focused primarily on the needs of its white male constituents in the southern states while simultaneously alienating the African American community.
About forty years ago America was in the infancy of the civil rights movement. This is about the time people like Alabama Governor George Wallace was standing in the doorway of Alabama University and made it clear that racial segregation was a major entitlement for the white community. These are the same white people who spat on and harassed black people who sat at lunch carters demanding service. These are the same white people who threatened black students as they tried to attend Little Rock High School. These are the same white people who cheered and applauded when the news hit the airwaves the civil rights icon Dr. King was murdered as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. And these are the same people who wanted to use their political influence to keep the black community from becoming the true equal of the dominant community as much as possible.
Now, considering that this is the attitude of the pool of people serving as the party’s base, what incentive does a black person with strong affiliations to the black community have to support such a political agenda? It’s a fair bet that the great majority of the black people who call themselves Republicans have zero interest in addressing the issues pertinent to the black community. Yes, a nation wide unemployment rate approaching double digits might be pretty important to everyone, but the black community has been dealing with double digit unemployment rates for years. While the national rate might be somewhere in the ten percent range, the black community rate might be up in the sixteen percent range. But this issue of unemployment rates doesn’t register as a problem until it becomes a problem to the dominant community.
Some people will point a finger at Mr. Steele, not the middle one, and say that he’s off his rocker. The Republican Party is the party that freed the slaves after all. Any Republican affiliation with anybody who indulges in racism is totally coincidental and is often considered an anomaly to the larger party and any act of racism is an isolated incident from people who don’t have a single racist bone in their body. True, there might not be a single racist bone, but there are more than enough acts of racism by some high profile conservatives to call into question conservative’s sensitivity to matters of race.
More often than not conservatives will say that there’s absolutely nothing in their party’s agenda to prevent people from the black community from getting their fair share of the American dream. All black people have to do is work hard or get a quality education where they can compete fairly for various opportunities. But as soon as the black community asks for so much as a dime to make black community schools the equal of schools in the white community because the black community schools have been left to fall into such poor conditions, conservatives will say that black people need to stop asking for handouts and pull themselves up by their bootstrap. If black people would only learn to think outside the box and demonstrate some kind of personal responsibility and quit trying to appeal to the dominant community’s sense of social responsibility.
Many conservatives who heard Mr. Steele’s political assessment will simply dismiss him as irrelevant. Many will say that Mr. Steele is simply trying to inject some degree of race into the debate as to why so many of his party constituents see him as such an embarrassment to their cause. Many conservatives will say that their party is truly color blind and is far more effective at helping the black community through rough times with a social responsibility cheerfully referred to as tough love instead of the doting mother kind of love that retards personal growth. Funny how these people don’t have a problem being a doting mother to one of America’s corporate conglomerates that lobbies hard to get a multi billion dollar contract.
Many people will say that Mr. Steele missed the mark. They will say that if anything is holding the black community back it is black people’s insistence for undeserved handouts and special consideration. And that is one way to look at things. It could be called the conservative way of looking at things. But when we see high profile conservatives referring to black people with racially charged terms or descriptions, and so many conservatives continue to support such blatant disregard for the black community, it is a serious misrepresentation of facts to say that these attitudes play no roll in the subjugation and alienation of black people.
Whether or not people see Mr. Steele’s statement as accurate is moot. Whether we recognize it as true or not is little more than a matter of perception. Conservatives will say that there is no foundation. People in the black community will say it is about time somebody in the Republican Party admitted what has been going on for the past forty years or so. Do black people have any reason to vote for the Republican Party? Not really. As far as the majority of the black community thinks, the Republicans appear to be the worse of two evils.
I have to confess that when I saw then Illinois Senator Barack Obama snub the 2008 State of the Black Union program hosted by Tavis Smiley and Tom Joyner, I saw it as a bad omen for the black community. However, the fact that Michael Steele, the black Republican and former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, took the time to make an appearance was an even worse sign of things to come.
Mr. Obama couldn’t appear to be too connected to the black community because as a national collective we have an overwhelmingly strong need to see any positive affiliation from a black politician with the black community as being too black to be good for everyone. Mr. Obama has to keep his distance. And people justify this behavior by saying Mr. Obama wasn’t going to be the President of black America, but the President of all of America. However, Mr. Obama’s various appearances in front of more generic and therefore more predominantly white organizations were never dismissed as him trying to be the President of white America. The contrast is pretty stark.
But the Republican Mr. Steele wasn’t under any such constraint. Mr. Steele could do whatever he thought appropriate to sell the idea of the Republican Party to the predominantly black audience. I have to admit that from what I can remember of the program, Mr. Steele’s appearance on the show was smooth. He was somewhat conciliatory over the fact that the Bush administration never bothered to make much of an effort to mend its relationship with the black community. But regardless, Mr. Steele made a point to say that the black community needs to stay vigilant with any and all levels of government from the local to the national. It was a pretty good performance for Mr. Steele who downplayed his affiliation with conservatives.
At the time, one black politician was working to distance himself from the black community. The black vote was in the bag so his focus was to appeal to others. The other black politician was working to minimize his affiliation with the others. Black people don’t vote his party’s affiliation so he had to spend his focus appealing to black people.
From there, Mr. Obama went on to become the nominee for President from the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Steele went on to stand in front of the Republican National Committee, working the virtually all white crowd with frenzied refrains of drill baby drill. Gone was the rather agreeable Mr. Steele at the State of the Black Union. Hello Mr. Steele the passionate representative of politically conservative ideologies. No black people in the house? That’s okay because at the end of this Republican politician’s day all that matters is drill baby drill. The conditions of the black community didn’t even register for they’re not really all that important. All the Republican Party wanted was to siphon off a greater percentage of black votes in order to win more political offices.
From there, Mr. Obama went even further and became the first black President of the United States. His popularity rivals the best of any brand new President. People are putting a lot of faith into his administration after dealing with the disappointments of his predecessor for so many years. People may not believe in their federal government, but at least they are willing to give Mr. Obama the benefit of a doubt at the moment. Mr. Obama enjoys so much of the public’s goodwill that a lot of people have become rather sensitive to some of the tactics people play on people of color. Which leads to somewhat of a dilemma, what would be the best way to take down a popular black President?
Mr. Steele went further as well. He is now the leading figurehead of the Republican Party, an organization that is for the most part void of black participants. Another contender for this title fell by the wayside after his rather juvenile attempts at humor at the expense of racial sensitivity went over so well. People should note that distributing CDs with such hits as Barack the Magic Negro does little to create a sense of racial inclusion. And another contender for the title decided enough was enough and the time had finally come to cancel his membership at his exclusively white country club after enjoying years of rubbing elbows in an environment that mimicked a Republican Party convention. The odds for Mr. Steele’s selection got better with each passing day.
But nevertheless, it is no mere coincidence that an organization so empty of black people selects a black man as their front man when the main opponent in their struggle for political aspirations is a wildly popular black President. When there’s a raging fire you fight fire with fire. When there’s a popular black President you fight black with black. Don’t want to take a chance of appearing too racist talking about Mr. Obama’s weaknesses? Get a black man to do your dirty work for you.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Steele cannot, or will not, see how he is being played. All too often people are much too willing to let themselves be used if they can achieve some personal benefit in the process. Mr. Steele could’ve used his new position to talk about how the Republicans will reach out to the black community like he did when he gave his two cents at the State of the Black Union.
Instead, he will use his position to attack a fellow black politician. He applauds the bloc mentality of his Republican compatriots in the House of Representatives to deny the stimulus package Mr. Obama seeks to put America back on the economic tracks. Mr. Steele speaks with the same selfish tone of Rush Limbaugh who said he hoped Mr. Obama fails in his attempts to turn the country around. Better to wish people continue to suffer so someone can gloat rather than run the risk of having a political opponent offer lasting economic solutions.
True, Mr. Steele is probably just very passionate about his conservative principles. He’s so coo-coo for conservatism that he’s willing to take up the mantle to attack the first black President. Just imagine what Mr. Steele might be capable of if he was just half as passionate about the black community. Chances are he wouldn’t have to convince anybody at the State of the Black Union of his black community affiliation. It would be on his sleeve, kind of like his conservative principles.
I was listening to a now forgotten political pundit describing the Republican National Convention. Of particular note was when the crowd started chanting the refrain drill baby drill in response to the GOPAC Chairman Michael Steele’s speech. The political pundit said that the current price of energy has spawned serious pushes towards alternative fuels. There’s more talk about developing wind and solar energy. There’s talk about developing more all electric cars. All of this talk is being fueled by the high cost of oil that makes alternative fuels that much more attractive.
The political pundit compared the mindset of the drill baby drill crowd, with its focus on keeping the drill for more oil anywhere we can find it status quo, to the mindset of anyone who resist change. The total focus on more drilling while we are on the cusp of new energy technologies was compared to people who would embrace the old technology of IBM Selectric typewriters when the Pentium personal computers were in the early stages of development. We could develop computers to replace typewriters and try to make the business environment more efficient. But why would we develop such technology when we already have the proven technology of typewriters? Type baby type!
Currently, Americans consume something like twenty millions barrels of oil per day. According to the Energy Information Administration, a subdivision of the Department of Energy that produces official energy related statistics, and the National Petroleum Council, it is believed that about sixty billion barrels of undiscovered but recoverable oil reserves exist off the outer continental shelf. Of this sixty billion barrels, nearly a third of it is in areas where drilling has been banned, leaving more than forty billion barrels of oil in areas that are currently open to leasing and development. The problem with these oil reserves is that it might not be economically feasible to recover the oil with the current standards of oil drilling technology.
However, by lifting the current ban on drilling, it would be expected that by 2025 oil resources from these parts of the outer continental shelf could increase United States crude oil production by more than one million barrels per day. But production would not start in any measure before 2017. In an article published by Kyriacos Zygourakis in EV World that quotes David Kirsch, an oil analyst at PFC Energy, if the most promising areas off of the Florida and California coastlines were opened for drilling, their peak output could be as little as a quarter million barrels per day. These production numbers would hardly make a dent in our consumption numbers. The net result would literally be pennies on the gallon.
Add the fact that refineries are already operating at near capacity, and the infrastructure to deliver oil would need considerable investment as well, the idea that we can simply drill our way back to cheaper oil prices is a fallacy. And the more we use exorbitant, but nevertheless limited, funds to fuel our oil addiction the fewer funds we will have for the development of alternative energy resources.
Drill baby drill is a mantra of people with severely limited vision for the future. It is a chorus from people who resist change and the development of most things new. Drill baby drill is coded language for keeping the status quo exactly the way it is. These people do not want the uncertainty of a reality but the comfort of having a secured belief in what’s around the corner, even though the reality of what is around the corner is very, very different.
No matter how much or how many facts these people hear about what is happening and how the world is changing, no matter how much science and education is devoted to the study of issues, there is an adherence to the familiar. Science can be refuted. All you have to do is find a scientist who is all too willing to sell his or her shingle to the highest bidder and suddenly you have the makings of a scientific debate and can claim that the science in inconclusive. Deceive baby deceive!
This is the stereotypical mindset of the Pacific Islanders we associate with B class movies and programs who would grab the white woman who visits their island along with the professor. The islanders would worship Gork the volcano god. The professor would try to tell the islanders the science about volcanoes and lava and magma. But the islanders would hear nothing of this modern world witchcraft and would stick with their single minded, superstitious focus to please the volcano god with the greatest sacrifice they can find, the white woman. Once the white woman is thrown into the volcano Gork will stop his rumbling and the island would be spared his wrath. No offense to the white woman or the professor, but Gork baby Gork!
It is nothing but smoke and mirrors to think that all the drilling in the world is going to pull gasoline prices back down to a point where Dodge Vipers and Lincoln Navigators will become attractive again to the commoners. Such excesses are a thing of the past. The future belongs in the hands of those who are more likely to kick old habits to the curb and embrace new ideas. Without such forward thinking the majority of us would probably be stuck on the myth that the world is flat and there are a couple of big garage door on either size of the horizon that swallows the sun at night and releases it in the morning. The idea of such ignorant thinking in the twenty first century is ludicrous at best. And yet, so many of us believe that all we have to do is drill our way out of our current situation. Stuck baby stuck.