In theory, I should be happy that a Black man is going to the Senate. Even if it is a tiny, tiny sprinkle of color, it is undoubtedly needed in the sea of Whiteness that makes up the U.S. Senate. Enter South Carolina’s Rep. Tim Scott who was recently appointed to replace Jim DeMint as one of the state’s two representatives. Scott will be the first Black Republican senator since Ed Brooke (R-MA, 1967-1979), and yet, I’ve been happier to hear the voice of a belligerent bill collector for my private student loans than I was to read about this guy getting a bump in title.
As you’ll soon begin to hear more frequently, the 47-year-old Senate appointee has an interesting, even admirable background. Raised by a single Mother, as reported by the New York Times, “[Scott was] a lost child who struggled with school and with life until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him on as a protégé and schooled him in conservative principles.”
Unfortunately, therein lies much of the problem with Scott joining the Senate.
Traditional conservative values are an acquired taste (that tend to leave me feeling sour), but those who harbor them aren’t automatically political bad apples. Likewise, conservative Blacks aren’t necessarily “sell outs” or “Oreos” or whatever term you can think of to argue they are less than.
The same cannot be said of Scott’s ilk, though.
As a member of the Tea Party, Scott represents a bastardization of conservatism. He is a part of the fringe element of the Republican Party that partially built its clout on exploiting racist sentiments. Not to mention, if Scott exhibits any of the behavior he displayed in Congress, he’ll be nothing more than another nuisance getting in the way of actual work being done in Washington.
Here a few examples:
A year ago, when talks over the debt ceiling were deadlocked and the country was on the brink of defaulting, President Barack Obama asserted “that the debt ceiling itself was an unconstitutional infringement on the 14th Amendment.”
Scott responded by entertaining the notion of impeaching Obama.
Two months after entering Congress, Scott would propose a bill that would kick entire families off of food stamps if even a single member went on strike. But in 2010, Scott said, “My hope is I will take that experience and help people bring out the best that they can be. Coming from a single-parent household and almost flunking out of high school.” Meanwhile, South Carolina’s Black poverty rate stands at 38 percent.
As a South Carolina state representative, Scott backed a proposal to cut the state’s entire HIV/AIDS budget, even though South Carolina ranks in the top-third of reported AIDS cases. Who he defended instead were the oil companies, helping them to keep $50 billion in subsidies. When asked if this seemed fair, Scott retorted, “Fair is a relative word.”
When asked about his South Carolina congressional colleague, Rep. Trey Gowdy said in an interview last week, “There is not a kinder, more humble, sweet-spirited person. That is somewhat antithetical to what you’d expect at this level of politics.”
Yes, the anti-poor, anti-gay, anti-diseased, pro-big-oil politician sounds like quite the sweet soul.
Black people are not a monolithic, but when you don’t look out for your own, it’s clear that you are in a position to help make it worse for other Blacks. Tim Scott may be on his way to becoming the first Black Republican senator of South Carolina, but his policies aren’t at all different from the out-of-touch, older White man he’s replacing.
It’s history, but whoopity damn doo.