Marian Miner Cook
Athenaeum

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How to Win Elections and Lose the Country

Mon, October 25, 2021
Dinner Program
Michael Steele

To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, madness is rare in individuals—but in political parties it is the rule. From the very founding of our American political system, we have been less than sane when it comes to our politics and political parties. But what makes the madness different today? And why does it feel so personal? How does political activism and the rise of grassroots movements such as Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and even “Trumpism” impact policymakers or even create a pathway for a “third way” as the dominant political parties try to hold on to voters and rebrand themselves? Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), doesn’t hold back in looking at both the madness and the methods of our political parties and the systems they create in the fight for domination and electoral success; and ultimately how the emergence of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and future presidential contenders may signal not just a profound transformation of both political parties but their eventual end.

When he was elected Lt. Governor of Maryland in 2003, Michael Steele made history as the first African American elected to statewide office; and again, with his subsequent chairmanship of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in 2009.

As chairman of the RNC, Steele was charged with revitalizing the Republican Party. A self-described "Lincoln Republican," under Steele’s leadership the RNC broke fundraising records (over $198 million raised during the 2010 Congressional cycle) and Republicans won 63 House seats, the biggest pickup since 1938. His commitment to grassroots organization and party building at the state and local levels produced 12 governorships and the greatest share of state legislative seats since 1928 (over 760 seats).

As Lt. Governor of Maryland, Steele’s priorities included reforming the state's Minority Business Enterprise program, improving the quality of Maryland's public education system (he championed the state’s historic Charter School law), expanding economic development in the state and fostering cooperation between government and faith-based organizations to help those in need.

Steele is a frequent guest on radio and television. He has appeared on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, and Comedy Central's The Daily Show. In addition to his work in television, Steele co-hosted the daily radio program, Steele & Ungar on the POTUS Channel on SiriusXM and is the host of the podcast The Michael Steele Podcast.

Steele’s writings on law, business and politics have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Hill.com, The Grio.com, Politico.com, The Root.com, BET.com, Townhall.com, The Journal of International Security Affairs and Catholic University Law Review, among others.

He is the author of “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda,” which is a call to arms for grassroots America and co-author of “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis”.

Born at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County, Maryland, Steele was raised in Washington, D.C. Upon graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 1981, he entered the Order of St. Augustine where he studied for the priesthood. He is a 1991 graduate of Georgetown Law Center, an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership, a University of Chicago Institute of Politics Fellow, and he currently serves as a Senior Fellow at Brown University’s Institute for International and Public Affairs.

Mr. Steele will deliver the Fall 2021 Lecture for the Res Publica Society Speaker Series.

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Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

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