I have been saying this in person to people, re-doubling my ongoing recommendation that people listen to KCRW's Left, Right and Center with Josh Barro, so I should also say it here: the show is great, and has been made even greater with the addition of Micheal Steele, former head of the RNC, representing the views from the right.
Aside from his excellent radio etiquette (the previous 'Right' was Rich Lowry, who has a strange manner of speaking on radio – not a comment on character at all, merely about the structure of audio-only media), he's insightful. His analysis of Joe Biden's running mate selection on his first appearance was what made me essentially an instant-fan, but his humor and humanity really shine through as well.
One of the stories he mentioned, in that first episode, really stuck with me. After he was hired to be the head of the RNC, a Republican congressperson had said, aloud and on microphone, that they only hired him because he's black.
Obviously that's bananas racist, and Micheal Steele taking the time to have a direct and honest conversation with him about that is a testament to his patience and character more broadly. He didn't have the job forever, and the timing in relation to Barack Obama is... indicative that the hiring and firing choice was at least in some small part race-aware. But (as with most racist things politicians say), there's a second layer: it's stone cold stupid!
Steele took the grassroots Tea Party movement, and turned it into a massive political gain, both at the national and local levels. These people got into office. That's the job, and (without looking at any statistics), has got to be one of the better jobs of the current era at converting public sentiment to election wins.
The important reference class here includes Occupy Wall Street – similar scale, same dissatisfaction, but Occupy leaned left instead of right. But guess what? Zero of those people got into office, they didn't get any laws past, they didn't get anything they wanted, and eventually, they all went home. This is the default outcome for these grassroots movements.
Whatever you believe, you want people like Micheal Steele. If people running the party can efficiently convert the opinions of ordinary people into actual political change, the whole system of representative democracy is made more efficient. Even if you disagree with them, surely the principle of democracy is that their voices should be represented in the law-making process.
So I'm not willing to hear any of this silliness about race – Micheal Steele is very likely the most effective major party leader in recent history, and if that makes me some weirdo who's trying to rewrite history to make it match my understanding, so be it. I'm a Micheal Steele truther – he was exceptionally effective at his job, and a competent organization would have kept him on for as long as humanly possible.