- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2004

We think it was quite a shame there weren’t more hours in primetime speaking slots at the Republican National Convention. Because if there were, then perhaps more Americans could have seen Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele’s truly conservative and inspirational speech on the second night of the convention. We don’t want to take away from either California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or Laura Bush, who both spoke in the precious 10 to 11 p.m. slot aired by the major television networks, but it was in fact Mr. Steele’s earlier, and far less covered, speech that Republicans, not to say Americans, should have heard.

While Mr. Schwarzenegger brought the house down by explaining characteristics of the Republican party, Mr. Steele spoke about, as so few politicians care to do, just what it means to be a conservative. And he did this by poignantly describing what a Democrat, his mother, understood: “You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and incentive. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they should do for themselves.” Very rarely has a politician revealed as eloquently the inherent fallacies of liberalism.

In a less ideological sense, however, Mr. Steele also underscored the failure of Democratic black leaders, whose rhetoric and solutions for the black middle class have not changed since the 1960s — and whose dependence on promoting fear, not hope, has only left the black community in the firm grip of the Democratic Party as a given bloc of voters. Early in the speech, Mr. Steele denounced those leaders in a subtle way: “What truly defines the civil rights challenge today isn’t whether you can get a seat at the lunch counter, it’s whether you can own that lunch counter to create a legacy of wealth for your children.”

Conservative values, as Mr. Steele described them, are never easy to promote, especially for a black politician. We believe Mr. Steele confirmed his role at the convention, not only as one of the rising stars in the conservative wing of the Republican Party, but also as a genuine voice for black Americans.

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