Friday, January 30, 2009
Chairman Steele! (Thoughts from the Hotel Lobby)
Well, Michael Steele has been elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and I am personally very pleased. I spent all day camped out in the lobby of the Capital Hilton, where the election took place, and I hoped to send you some updates. Instead, I spent a lot of time fighting the hotel's WiFi system before finally resigning myself to the fact that the stupid thing was never going to work. However, I did get the chance to chat with a lot of people, and I thought the whole experience rather interesting.
A lot of hard-core conservatives seem puzzled about how Mr. Steele (supposedly the most moderate man in the race) stormed to victory over more conservative candidates. In particular, they seem flabbergasted that Ken Blackwell (the most conservative candidate..and my personal favorite) endorsed Steele when he dropped out of the race. Personally, it makes perfect sense to me. Blackwell and Steele share a commitment to radical change in the RNC. They both want to drastically improve the way we use technology, they both want to decentralize, and they both want to make a concerted effort to fight in blue states. A lot of people in the lobby thought that Blackwell's votes, and those from third-place finisher Saul Anuzis, would go to runner-up Katon Dawson (who was supposedly more conservative than Steele). However, this line of thinking made little sense to me, as both Blackwell and Anuzis seemed more aligned with Steele when it came to strategy.
In the final analysis, I think that the voters realized that the RNC Chairmanship is not a purely ideological office - but rather an administrative one. You need a leader who has a firm grasp of conservative ideals (which Steele does), but it is arguably more important to have a chairman with a bold vision and a cohesive, winning strategy for the future. Steele had the commitment to operational reform that Republicans so desperately crave, and that is why he rightly came out the victor today.