Opinion: Tim Scott Wants To Sell Unity To The Party Of White Grievance. Good Luck With That.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has not made up his mind on whether or not he will run for president, but he has recently launched a presidential exploratory committee, and based on his first week as a prospective candidate, already developed a losing strategy for a would-be bid.
Scott, the lone Black Republican member of the Senate, will reportedly tout the GOP as “the great opportunity party.”
“I will never back down in defense of the conservative values that make America exceptional,” Scott said in a tweet accompanying his announcement video, adding, “This fight is personal.”
He also stressed to voters: “The story of America is not defined by our original sin. The story of America is defined by our redemption.”
The video was filmed at Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina, where the state militia in 1861attacked federal troops and started the Civil War.
“America’s soul was put to the test,” Scott said. “And we prevailed.”
Who is the “we” here? It’s certainly not the white conservatives who gleefully wave that red flag of oppression. Nor is it the party itself, which actively stokes racial animus to win over voters, only to later use the power procured to enact policies that serve as bludgeons to the Black community.
I’m sure such viewpoints make me sound like a “radical leftist” to the likes of Scott, who once stressed in a 2021 speech, “America is not a racist country.”
On the other hand, he boasted of his ability “to disrupt the narrative of race” in his announcement video, but what does that mean exactly?
In February, while speaking at the Charleston County GOP Black History Month Banquet, Scott noted: “I’m not here to suggest that things could not get better, and I’m going to work every single day to make sure that all Americans play on a level playing field. That hasn’t always been the case. But today is not 1865. Today is not 1923. We have made tremendous progress, and it’s time that we as a people celebrate the progress we are making.”
So, Scott’s talent is that he can acknowledge the obvious ― racism is real ― but deny the active role his political party of choice plays in perpetuating systemic voters and win statewide office in a state like South Carolina.
Uh, good for him, I guess, but how is such a strategy going to win over GOP primary voters for a presidential campaign?
Let Scott and his supporters tell it, he can indeed win over Republican primary voters with a more “optimistic” vision.
“The message is resonating,” Scott told The New York Times while campaigning in Iowa late last week. That is not evident in any polling, which is why such proclamations obscure the political realities of the GOP and its base of voters.
There is hope among a few conservatives that someone will help the party “move on” from Trump, but as veteran Republican pollster Sarah Longwell explained in a piece for The Bulwark, based on all of the focus groups she’s engaged in, GOP voters don’t want anyone that reminds them of the Republican Party before Trump’s 2016 campaign.
“By the time this campaign hits New Hampshire, everyone in America — even the conservative think tank donors — will understand that we aren’t living through an interregnum, but rather have passed into a new age,” Longwell said.
Former President Donald Trump, a racist in the eyes of many for multiple reasons spanning decades, continues to have a commanding lead in all 2024 GOP primary voting ― and his argument as to why that is sounds far more reasonable than the one Scott is peddling.
Over the weekend, Trump stood before Republican National Committee donors in Nashville to argue that he single-handedly “saved” the Republican Party from “the establishment class” when he won in 2016.
“Republicans were a party known for starting wars overseas, cutting Social Security and Medicare at home, and pushing mass amnesty for illegal aliens,” Trump explained during the closed-door gathering at the Four Seasons Hotel per Politico.
And what are they known for now?
Still all of that, frankly, but more pronouncedly, their active antagonizing of marginalized groups and pursuit of restricting longstanding rights take more precedent these days.
Off the heels of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis going after AP Black history courses, GOP representatives in other states like Louisiana are seeking to prevent the teaching of racism altogether ― on par with the other bigots of the party across the country that have been targeting libraries for featuring books that challenge their views on race, gender and sexuality over the last year.
It’s all a natural evolution of the birther president’s policy initiatives like the Muslim Ban, the racist rhetoric about “shithole” countries, and the explanation that there are “very fine people” on both sides of a debate about white supremacy and antisemitism.
And after all of Trump’s displays of varying displays of prejudice, corruption and contempt for democracy, the base continues to rally behind him, thus proving his assertion in that speech to rich donors that the “old Republican Party is gone, and it is never coming back.”
Trump claimed in his nearly hour-long speech that he would make the GOP an “unstoppable juggernaut that will dominate American politics for generations to come.”
Imagine all of the people that would suffer under his rule ― to the cheers of his vengeful supporters and the party catering to them.
Trump did not bring racism to the Republican Party, but his political ascension has given others the courage to once again be more forthright with their biases ― exactly why Trump leads over all his challengers with his discount version, the empty and cruel Ron DeSantis, at a distant second.
Trump will more than likely be the nominee, and he is not selling a second term themed around hope and optimism, but one of “retribution.”
Tim Scott can hope that somehow, someway he can break through and become the first Black man since 1996 to have a credible shot at securing the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, but considering the state of the Republican Party, it might be foolish to place much hope in such an unrealistic scenario.