With Republican Chairman Michael Steele shaping and steering the
course for that party’s future, Americans will have two very distinct
options for who best represents their beliefs.
The heads of both parties are black men of great competence,
intelligence, ambition and idealism. Obama is Christian and
liberal, Steele is Roman Catholic and conservative. NCRegister considers the ramifications.
Steele’s election is a very interesting one for many
reasons, not least because it highlights the wide discrepancy between
President Barack Obama’s views and those of many other black Americans
on hot-button cultural issues like homosexual rights.
Few political observers dispute that the GOP’s selection of Steele was motivated substantially by a desire to
signal that the party is sympathetic to the aspirations of the black community, and other ethnic Americans.
But blacks generally vote overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic
candidates over their Republican opponents. And that disparity only
became more glaring in the 2008 election cycle dominated by Obama’s
candidacy and his election as the nation’s first African-American
However, this African-American attachment to Democratic candidates
in general, and Obama in particular, obscures the reality that Obama’s
extremely liberal stances on social issues and his relative disinterest
in religion (a recent Washington Post article reported Obama has not
attended church regularly for at least five years) are unrepresentative
of the black community.
According to Steele’s RNC campaign website, he spent
three years as a young man at a Catholic seminary studying to become an
Augustinian priest before discerning he had a different vocation.
Currently, Steele serves on the the administrative board of the
Maryland Catholic Conference.
The Register notes that on the same day Steele was elected as
Republican Chairman, a Pew Research Center Forum on Religion &
Public Life study was released.
“The analysis finds that African-Americans are markedly
more religious than the U.S. population as a whole on a variety of
measures, including reporting a religious affiliation, attendance at
religious services, frequency of prayer and the importance of religion
in people’s lives.
“Compared with other racial and ethnic groups, African-Americans are
among the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation, with
fully 87% of African-Americans describing themselves as belonging to
one religious group or another. The analysis also finds that nearly
eight-in-ten African-Americans (79%) say religion is very important in
their lives, compared with 56% among all U.S. adults.”
The Register recalls this important fact:
And the outcome of California’s Proposition 8 ballot
measure that amended the state constitution to define marriage as a
one-man, one woman institution provided clear evidence that the
collective religiosity of black Americans has important political
consequences. According to CNN’s exit polling data, African-Americans
voted in favor of the measure affirming traditional marriage by an
overwhelming 70%-30% margin.
It’s not a conclusion, but certainly key markers on a path forward.
Of course, electing a charismatic, religiously motivated
black politician as the Republican National Committee’s new chairman
can’t be expected to do much by itself to tug the black community away
from its close political embrace of the Democratic Party.
But it’s a new beginning, a course-correction, to re-establish what
the two parties stand for and do it with clarity. And then give
Americans a real and representative choice.