by Luis Mazariegos
Can RNC Chairman Michael Steele turn the Republican Party’s image around with a hip-hop makeover?
Recently, Steele promised an “off the hook” marketing blitz that would apply core conservative principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings” (whatever that may mean).
He cemented his path by calling the stimulus plan “bling bling” for Democrats the other day. I kid you not.
Though on the surface this may all seem a tad ridiculous, there might be something worthwhile here.
It’s no secret that the Republican Party is trying to distance itself from the George W. Bush era – and with good reason. Bush’s spending choices and war in Iraq have made him unpopular among certain blocs of conservatives, such as those who value fiscal responsibility over everything else.
Not only that, but the Republican’s loss last election showed that unless they can appeal to younger voters and minorities, the future won’t hold better results.
And though culturally the Republican Party and hip-hop may seem miles apart, the similarities in ideology are striking.
Yes, rappers are against gun legislation and distrusting of big government’s ability to help people, hallmarks of conservatism. But most importantly, rappers are, above all, capitalists. There just aren’t very many socialist rappers. “Share the wealth” will never become a hip-hop catchphrase like “get that dough” is. It seems that hip-hop is, in reality, permeated by conservative or maybe more precisely liberterian ideals.
So yes, Michael Steele has not handled it quite gracefully. His comments mostly drew ridicule and sharp criticism. Comedian Stephen Colbert mockingly challenged Steele to a rap battle. Democratic strategist Brad Woodhouse said that “with gaffes and an attitude like this [Steele will] just lead the [GOP] into another drubbing at the polls”
In truth, calling the stimulus package “bling bling” is an oversimplification if not a bit sophomoric. But it does, to an extent, get the right idea across to a certain few people.
And it’s this kind of language, if done correctly and by the right person, that could end up attracting just the right demographics to win an election.