WASHINGTON — South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott [R-1st District] is slotted to fill the seat of outgoing Tea Party favorite, Senator Jim DeMint.
This is historic in many respects. Most notably, Scott is only the fifth African American to serve in the US Senate since the Civil War Reconstruction period. The GOP move makes Scott the only African American to currently occupy a Senate seat.
Scott’s background is impressive. He faced the challenges of growing up in the household of an under-resourced single mother. According to the New York Times, Scott (47) struggled in school, his life virtually turned around through the mentorship of a Chick-fil-A franchise owner. Subsequently, Scott went on to graduate from Charleston Southern University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science. He owns an insurance company and offers his clients financial advice. Scott’s portfolio of elected office holdings include:
- Charleston County Council (1995-2008). That tenure including becoming Chairman in 2007.
- South Carolina House of Representatives (2009-2011). In 208, Scott ran for the 117th District seat in the State House. His win made Scott the first African American to win a elected post in more than 100 years. His committee assignments included Judiciary, Labor-Commerce-Industry, and Ways and Means.
- United States House of Representatives (2011-present). Scott time in the US House included serving on the: Committee on Transportation; Committee on Small Business: and Committee on Rules. There, Scott maintained traditional GOP themes such small government.
In a proactive effort to counter detractors, Governor Nikki Halley assured party fateful that Scott was the right choice. Halley’s announcement included several explicit statements that Scott “earned” the position.[pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”30%”]“He earned this seat for what I know he’s going to do in making South Carolina and making our country proud.” —- Gov. Nikki Haley[/pullquote]
Scott is committed to conservative principles that have enabled his rise through Republican ranks. Applauding the Scott appointment, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said on Monday, “Kudos to Governor Haley for choosing a proven fiscal conservative to continue the legacy set by Jim DeMint. We are confident that Tim Scott will be a leading voice to advance the principles of individual freedom and limited-government, and he will be an excellent addition to a growing caucus of fiscal conservatives in the Senate.”
Indicators of Scott’s positions are found on his Congressional campaign website. Under the Issues tab, one can find the Congressman’s thinking on job creation, tax reform, reducing government spending, health care, and other issues. The details reflect traditional Republican Party ideas. Excerpts from Scott’s website reveal positions on eight of the policy issues listed:
Creating jobs is NOT the role of the federal government…Creating an atmosphere for our small businesses to thrive means that government must let our nation’s entrepreneurs breathe. Overreaching regulations, excessive taxation, and a big government mindset are strangling our small businesses.
REDUCING GOVERNMENT SPENDING
The biggest challenge facing our nation today is the culture of spending that has taken over Washington, D.C. I have fought hard to change the conversation from “how much can we spend” to “how much can we save”, and we have succeeded in beginning to change that mindset. However, there is still a lot of work left to be done. We must use taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently. Tax dollars don’t grow on trees – they come from the hard working men and women who earned them. If we don’t remember that, and continue bankrupting our nation, it will eventually lead to economic disaster. Restoring fiscal sanity is much more than a sound bite, it is a necessity. We must cut spending, cap our budgets and pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. The time for pet projects and special favors is over. The time for ever-expanding government bureaucracies is over. And the time for blank check spending is over.
PROTECTING WORKERS’ RIGHTS
ALL hard-working Americans should have their rights protected. ALL should have the right to have their voices heard. ALL should be free to pursue economic prospects. If left to the President and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the concept of “ALL” will be left to the side in order to advance political favors for the activist agenda of union allies. We saw here in the First District what happens when the President and the NLRB bow to their union benefactors. Thousands of jobs were threatened, and many foreign businesses expressed concern about expanding to the United States because of the environment being created. I led the charge against the President’s agenda, which he channeled through the NLRB, and thankfully we were able to save jobs in South Carolina. However, the threat remains.
I stand strongly in support of our Second Amendment rights. The Constitution grants South Carolinians the right to defend themselves and their families, and I will continue fighting to ensure that right it is not weakened in anyway… I have supported more than half-a-dozen bills in Congress to protect our Second Amendment rights:
Right now the tax code is too complex and unfair – with punitive taxes on savings and free enterprise, uneven treatment of taxpayers, and special preferences in the law, we have placed unnecessary strain on our families and job creators, and created a hindrance for economic opportunity and growth…To that end, I support many pieces of legislation aimed at putting more money back in your hands…
REINING IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Recent polls have indicated 40 percent of small business owners are hampered in their ability to create jobs because of regulations like this. Action must be taken. The federal government can’t create jobs, but it certainly can destroy them…The President’s political goals cannot be what drives our regulatory environment. We need smart regulations that protect public health and ensure consumer protections without destroying our economy – not Washington bureaucrats pushing papers to fit an agenda…I support the following measures to fight out-of-control regulation:
MILITARY AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS
When it comes to defending our homeland and supporting our men and women in uniform, the federal government has no higher responsibility than to “provide for the common defense.” It is our Constitutional duty to protect American interests both at home and abroad. In order to protect Americans at home, we must deter those who wish to do harm to us. We should not be foolish enough to believe that we can inadequately fund our military yet retain our superior position in the world…Our homeland depends on a strong, robust military. We can and must seek fiscal responsibility while also providing our troops the resources and support they need.
I promise to fight for RESPONSIBLE health care reform. Patient-centered improvements. Decisions made by doctors and patients together. Common sense reforms for our families and future generations. Increased competition and choice of plans.I was elected into office with a promise to you that I would vote to repeal Obamacare. That is why the first vote I took as a member of Congress was to repeal the health care reform package, and the first bill I authored was to deauthorize and rescind funding for it. In addition, I have cosponsored further bills to repeal parts or all of the reform:
The meaning of Scott’s appointment is debatable. On one hand, this move continues America’s march towards its national creed for people of diverse background to rise to key positions in our nation. Rep. James Clyburn [D-SC] expressed this in his statements following the announcement:
I congratulate Tim Scott on his appointment. I have worked with him for several years, and while we don’t see eye-to-eye on most political issues and more often than not cancel out each other’s votes, I believe he is the personification of South Carolina’s motto, ‘While I breathe, I hope.’ …The historic nature of this appointment is not lost on me, and I am confident Tim Scott will represent South Carolina and the country honorably.
Conversely, the move raises questions as to the Republican Party’s diagnosis of it’s image problem with African Americans; a group that soundly supported Barack Obama in the recent election. The diagnosis could be one or a combination of several elements:
- A Numbers Problem. This view suggests the GOP’s image problem is rooted in the low number of African American Republicans elected to local, state, and federal offices. This view, however, comes with its own difficulties — and some not controllable by the GOP. For instance, black politicians face elections problems, even in areas where blacks are the majority population. In-fact, in 1996, Scott challenged Democratic State Senator Robert Ford for South Carolina’s 42nd Senate district, but lost 65%-35%. A good friend who recently ran for State Congress in Ohio as a Republican noted that blacks immediately and negatively reacted to his candidacy at the very mention of Republican Party affiliation — a rejection that all too often occurred prior to the voter’ hearing the candidate’s positions. Consequently, African Americans, who might be averse to the GOP also participate in the low number of elected African Americans in the party. The Scott appointment, while a step forward and a good-faith measure, will not solve the numbers problem that overwhelming favor Democrats.
- An Ideology Problem. This view posits a rational GOP has underlying values and positions that fail to comport with the values and positions of rational [largely Democratic Party friendly] black voters. Here, for instance, a considerable gulf exists between black voters who have historically legitimate ties to active government and conservative Republicans who subscribe to Reagan’s “Government is the problem” ethos. From all indications, the GOP does not widely accept this diagnosis of its root problem. Scott comes with the credentials as couched in conservatism as party icons such as Senator Lindsey Graham [R-SC].
- A Messaging Problem. This idea goes back to early post-election theories out of Republican circles that sought to explain the Mitt Romney loss. The theory asserted the GOP has the right solutions, but failed to adequately articulate its positions (or better yet, rational for its positions). Republicans point to Romney’s infamous “47 percent” faux pas as one of many torpedoes that ultimately sunk the Romney bid for the White House. Scott’s troubled childhood, turned straight by an infusion of conservative principles makes conservatism a plausible response to the ills facing our society’s most vulnerable households.
- A Messenger Problem. Those within the GOP who cite the messenger is the problem point to Team Obama’s relatively easy crafting of Romney as an uncaring individual who has little in-common with ordinary Americans. Here, an everyday Tim Scott helps the Republican Party shed its “old white men” indictment. However, recent history has shown that putting a black face on a deeper set of problems comes with great risks. Justice Clarence Thomas was rejected by large segments of black America who viewed his relationship with Senator John Dansforth — Thomas’ brother-in-law — as an establishment selection that little reflected black concerns. Similar trepidation arose in the emergence of Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, presidential hopeful Herman Cain, Congressman Allen West, Alan Keyes ( former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs in the Reagan administration), and host of other black conservatives.
Hilary Shelton, NAACP Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, expresses a cautious perspective:
It is important that we have more integration in the U.S. Senate. It’s good to see that diversity. Mr. Scott certainly comes from a modest background, experience, and so forth, and should be sensitive to those issues. Unfortunately, his voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives raises major concerns.
It remains to be seen what image problem(s) Senator Tim Scott will pursue and the extent those efforts are successful. However this decision is received by the Republican hierarchy, South Carolina, and African Americans, the decision has historic significance. The national experience, a still unfolding one, takes another important step forward – thanks to Gov. Halley.
Ultimately, we can look to a time when such a decision is just another appointment without the racial considerations that surround the Scott decision.
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