Congratulations to Michael Steele, the newly elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee. As a young conservative, I have to admit that I was pulling for him. While I still affiliate myself with neither the Republican nor Democratic Party, I do believe that the Republicans are starting to get the message of the 2006 and 2008 elections and get right on conservatism (no pun intended). And by that I mean real conservatism of the sort espoused by this and other blogs (see "Blogs of Note" section on sidebar), not “compassionate” or neo-conservatism (for the distinction, see here and here).
The Children of the Revolution first recognized Steele’s potential briefly in an article entitled The Bizarrobamas. Mr. Steele comes from humble, self-made beginnings and started life as a Democrat. As a convert to conservatism, he brings a fresh, intelligent style to his discussions of what being conservative really means. Furthermore, since his ascendance to leadership first of GOPAC and now the RNC, he has been a champion of teaching conservative principles (something that we at COTR are very big on) and recruiting young conservatives to run for local elective offices across the country. He has distanced himself from neoconservatives by opposing a federal amendment banning gay marriage, urging the issue to be left to the states and calling it a “low priority.” He also was among the first to call for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense, saying he “wouldn’t be my Secretary of Defense.” He has repeatedly urged spending restraint and tax reform that makes tax relief permanent and simplifies the tax code.
However, he has some of the defects of Republican Party loyalty. He took a hawkish stance on Iraq and declared that he would have supported military action even if there were no weapons of mass destruction. He is also an ardent supporter of the War on Drugs. He holds some moderate views as well, and is supporter of affirmative action and upholding Roe v Wade on stare decisis grounds (which many conservatives typically oppose as bad law, holding that abortion should be left up to the states), though he is personally opposed to abortion.
Nevertheless, taken on the whole the election of Michael Steele as RNC Chairman adds up to a net positive on the part of conservatism and this blog in particular. We have ardently called for new, younger Republican leadership following the spending glut of the Bush years, among other things. Mr. Steele has led that particular charge since before it was popular in the Party. What remains to be seen is if he’ll change the Party or the Party will change him. I am aware of the possibility that his election came at a cost to his ideals, but hope that he was chosen for his character and beliefs rather than any particular demographic appeal he may have.
We’ll monitor his progress critically and closely…