Friday, January 30, 2009

RNC elects Steele

Today the Republicans chose their RNC Chairman, and after 6 ballots they elected former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. He is an African-American, a moderate, a great public speaker, and a committee outsider - all opposites of recent past chairmen. For a few voting rounds, I thought they might actually elect South Carolina's Katon Dawson, who would have reinforced their "old white dude" image; not insignificant, he was a member of an all-white country club. But the RNC summoned their better angels, bless them. With the election of Steele, the committee obviously is looking to create a more inclusive, forward-thinking party, and now the Republican party can start re-imaging their broken brand.

Steele will have the daunting task of curbing GOP losses nationwide. As I commented last month, the GOP is beholden to Southern conservatism which, as Nate Silver explains, creates a political "death spiral:"
Thus the Republicans, arguably, are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative, partisan, and strident their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base -- but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us. And the process loops back upon itself.
Good luck with that, Chairman Steele.

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