Michael Steele in an interview with GQ:
Question: Why do you think so few nonwhite Americans support the Republican Party right now?
Steele: ‘Cause we have offered them nothing! And the impression we’ve created is that we don’t give a damn about them or we just outright don’t like them. And that’s not a healthy thing for a political party. I think the way we’ve talked about immigration, the way we’ve talked about some of the issues that are important to African-Americans, like affirmative action… I mean, you know, having an absolute holier-than-thou attitude about something that’s important to a particular community doesn’t engender confidence in your leadership by that community–or consideration of you for office or other things–because you’ve already given off the vibe that you don’t care. What I’m trying to do now is to say we do give a damn.
Actually, it was the Republican Party under President Nixon that first “offered” affirmative action, in the form of race-based preferences for employment, to non-white Americans. So Steele is wrong on the facts.
Moreover, Republicans continue to back all aspects of “affirmative action” except those that bestow benefits (jobs, college admission, federal contracts) on minority group members because of their race or ethnicity. And Republicans have done precious little to overturn even these out-and-out preferences.
I’ve been wondering what Steele’s plan for the party is. Now it seems that the plan is to “offer” things to non-whites — in essence to outbid the Dems for minority votes. That’s a war Republicans cannot win without abandoning conservative, and even moderate, principles.
If talking sweetly about affirmative action (while opposing racial quotas) were sufficient, President Bush would have made a dent in the African-American vote. It never happened. Indeed, Steele himself lost the African-American vote in Maryland by a ratio of 3-1 in his 2002 run for the Senate.