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RNC Elects Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele

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On Friday, the Republican Party elected its first African-American chairman with the selection of Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor or Maryland. Steele won even though Republicans thought he was too moderate. Columnist Sophia Nelson, who was at the committee meeting, gives her take on what the Republicans need to do next. Read her comments below.

The big question on everyone's mind, however, is whether or not the GOP will elect its first Black Chairman in former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele or former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. Also running for Co-Chairman of the Party is Renee Amoore of Pennsylvania, a successful Black businesswoman who, if elected, would be the first Black woman to hold such a high position at the RNC.

As a 20-year long moderate Black republican, I am not very optimistic that any of the Black candidates will prevail this Friday. Even if they are successful, however, I'm not sure that it would make a big difference in the policy direction and success of the GOP in attracting Black voters in 2010 and beyond.

November 4, 2008, should have been a big wake-up call for the national Republican Party. The stinging rebuke of the GOP on Election Day sent a clear signal that Americans want a more optimistic and diverse body politic in Washington. For me, as a Black woman, I am deeply proud of the new President and First Lady, but I am equally dismayed that my own party got just 4 percent of the Black vote in 2008. The worst showing in its 150-year history. The GOP has been on a downward 40-year slide from its founding principles of equal rights, and opportunity since Richard Nixon won the Presidency in 1968.

In my opinion, the GOP has a serious leadership void to fill at the top of the party. And the leaders that we do have are sorely out of touch with people of color, and in particular with African-Americans. The party has come to be identified closely with angry conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, who sparked controversy last week when he said, "We are being told we have to hope he (Obama) succeeds, that we have to bend over and grab our ankles... because his father was Black, because he's the first Black president, we've got to accept this?"

This week's election of the new GOP Chairman will reveal a lot about the soul of the Grand Old Party. Will the party attempt to "broaden its base" by selecting someone like Steele or Amoore to help guide it for the next four years, or will it keep the status quo? Only time will tell, but if the GOP does not quickly grasp the fact that President Obama has truly tapped into the "great diversity" of our nation and begin to offer up some viable and inclusive policies of their own they may find themselves in the political minority for good.

 

Sophia A. Nelson is a popular blogger and political analyst. She is a regular guest commentator on Fox News, CNN, NPR and POTUS08. She also has written opinion articles for TheRoot.com, Politico.com, The Washington Post, and ESSENCE.com.

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