I caught RNC Chairman Michael Steele at two speaking events on Saturday and I couldn’t help but think what should have been. Steele nodded in agreement when I said that his Blueprint document from his campaign for chair was the forgotten outline for their success. In other words, they could be winning on facts, policy, and positive candidates rather than fear and loathing.
He got off the bus with the GOP candidate in Macon and smile as if to say “where did you’ll find this one.” Austin Scott is a policy wonk and the type candidate (like Scott Brown) who centrists could take in swing districts. Before the event started, I told someone that I was the most important person there. The guy said wouldn’t that be the person with the news camera. My humorous point was that I was from the center and the last month of the election is about getting our votes—not preaching to the choir by getting the same votes of the same people you had on day one.
I came to see Michael Steele “shoot the gift” and did he delivered. Old school rap fans know the term shoot the gift, which means using words to achieve an objective. Like the Nas lyric “I move swift and uplift your mind, shoot the gift when I riff in rhyme..”
Michael Steele brought the gift in Macon, Georgia, and reminded me why so many Blacks in Maryland supported him for U.S. Senate. He represents a version of conservatism that is palatable in our community. The guy spoke without being angry and some in the crowd seems to be hearing their views presented with sugar for the first time and grasp the concept.
In Statesboro, Georgia, later that day, I was talking with Steele’s staff photographer in the lobby of a hotel as we watch a college football game. Again, I said Steele really should be in the Senate and he agreed that his old friend was in his element when connecting with the people. I have known Ray McKinney, the GOP candidate from the 12th congressional district, for years and he could win the center from a Blue Dog if he pulls blue-collar labor voters. For example, the story was told at the event of a pallet of campaign materials arriving and the warehouse personnel looking for a forklift driver. As a nuclear power plant worker, Ray knows equipment and jump on the forklift himself without second thought. McKinney isn’t a country club Republican.
We Democrats accept flexible candidates in swing districts because the other voters in the area need to have their voices heard also and policy might have elements of their concerns. South conservatives traditionally have a “my way or the highway” “winner take all” mentality. I think that isn’t a healthy way to run a diverse nation and my friends and I will support GOPers like Steele, Scott and McKinney who add range to the game.
Steele will be in my congressional district this coming week but I won’t be there. My community likes our Blue Dog just fine–thank you very much.