Sunday, September 06, 2009

Michael Steele at Howard: Focusing on Runner’s Steps Instead of the Race

by Lenny McAllister

The RNC took a bold step last week as Chairman Michael Steele went to the campus of prestigious Howard University in an attempt to re-engage America during the “Freedom Tour.” Just as with President Barack Obama when discussing his societal impact, many are focusing on Steele’s current results as a politician too much versus of viewing the long-term direction that his actions are setting into motion.

Just the same, both men at times are kicking up dust that is unsettling and unflattering for themselves and their allies. Yet, both men are doing things in different ways that, done correctly, will yield better results for America’s future.

Whereas Obama as president seems to continue to get sympathy from the media for the overhauling that he is undertaking to strengthen the country, Steele is bashed as a convenient figurine made available whenever Republican attempts to contrast the president’s radical directives since January or to reconnect with disenchanted voters after the Bush Era are to be ridiculed.

Even as Mr. Steele makes moves that make headlines for positive and negative spin for the GOP (such as his latest commercial on “seniors’ bill of rights” or the media rumblings with Rush Limbaugh earlier this year), America seems to miss the point with the current RNC chairman and his current direction. Further, without conservatives rallying around their figurehead to defend him, it threatens to weaken his long-term effectiveness.

Michael Steele was able to be at Howard University to speak with a level of credibility that Republicans have not been afforded at a HBCU since the days of Reconstruction. That means something. The same is true with the presence of other notable Black Republicans in GOP leadership around the country, including those such as Dr. Timothy Johnson (Vice Chair of the North Carolina GOP), Dr. Ada Fisher (GOP National Committeewoman for the state of North Carolina), and Troy Rolling in Michigan.

Just like a marathon, it is a movement due to a rising need within urban America and throughout the nation overall. But, just like a marathon, you can’t focus on where you find yourself at that current time; you have to focus on where you are headed and keep running for the long haul.

I’m sure that, just as we are seeing with the Democrats regarding leadership and policy, there is a level of debate amongst the ranks that will never quite leave as long as we have a nation that guarantees free speech. All Republicans have not lined up directly behind all of the Steele’s actions or public statements, nor perhaps should they. However, with the nation looking for alternatives to the dangerous directives coming from Washington, there are prime opportunities awaiting the GOP to reclaim the confidence of likely American voters.

The level of anger and growing distrust of the president’s initiatives will only translate into second looks at Republican initiatives and candidates if more within the GOP base lend support to Steele’s attempts to re-engage those that Republicans disenchanted over the past several elections - young people, ethnic people, and new voters.

Even if Chairman Steele pulls a hamstring during the course of the race, it doesn’t mean that the GOP won’t break the tape. However, if we allow the focus to be on the short, choppy steps instead of figuring out how to collectively expand our stride, we’ll never be able to win the race. With the historically-left agenda pushed in Washington these days, without a GOP marathon win, America will eventually lose.

Lenny McAllister is the author of the new book, “Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative,)” which can be purchased online at and He is a founding contributor to HHR and is a political commentator regularly seen on “Fox News Rising” in Charlotte, WVON in Chicago, XM Radio, and the CNN media assemblage. Follow him at , on Facebook at , and at where McAllister’s weekly video commentary can be found.

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