Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Republican Base

Yesterday was a 'soul searching day' for the Republican party - literally.

For GOP members of Congress that means going on retreat. A few things stood out for me following Bob Inglis on Twitter. He kept tweeting about speakers at the retreat, from Newt Gingrich to even now Mitch Daniels from Indiana keep telling them not to speak of the 'base' but to represent 'all the people.'

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana is telling us at breakfast here at retreat never to speak of the "base." Represent all the people, he says. from TwitterBerry

Newt: Don't gear toward mobilizing the base. Represent everyone in your district. They want jobs, take home pay and savings. We're with them from TwitterBerry

For the RNC it meant voting on a new Chairman, a process that took 6 rounds of voting and nearly 5 hours. In the end the GOP decided against going for the man who most represented their 'base' - Katon Dawson, a Southerner, a White Man, and an Social Conservative amongst other 'qualities,' such as this, this and this. Instead they chose Michael Steele who is by contrast a moderate, a 'northerner' and obviously not white. So an African American is leading a party that is less than 10% African American, congratulations Chairman Steele. In his speech he even talked about reaching out to people and making in roads in places where the doors to the Republican party seem shuttered.

So why would the party want to circle the wagons and become introspective? Electoral defeat of course, not necessarily the track record of the party over the past eight years but the incredible defeat they suffered at the ballot box. At present what is the Republican party? It is a party that, in the wake of this election, is demarcated as a purely regional party of the South and the Mountain West - or as a friend of mine now refers to the Republican Party, the "Old Confederacy and Buffalo Commons" Party, though Democrats made slight and significant inroads even there.. It is a party that is dominated by an extreme ideological bent that represents fewer and fewer people but expresses greater and greater control.

This stands in contrast to the things the Congressmen heard from their speakers on retreat and certainly stands in contrast to the election of Steele right? Well, we don't just no yet. The cynic would say politicians listening to other politicians talking about representing people would say that's just a way of retaining power. And the election of Steele as big of a step as it appears is hampered by his willingness to compromise on his more 'moderate' views on social issues and the like. In fact according to David Brody in an interview with Steele in December he stated that though he believes Gay Marriage is a states issue if he's elected he'll acquiesce to the party and support a federal amendment. Is it electing a leader or simply a mouth piece in a black face?

Meanwhile as the Republican party is in a precarious situation of trying to reach out to others beyond the white evangelical rural southern base, folks like Rush Limbaugh are reminding the Party "All your base are belong to us" and showing exactly who controls the direction of the Republican Party.

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