It’s been a while since we’ve heard the kind of optimism contained in Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) announcement of a presidential run.
Usually, it is gloom and doom, racism, white supremacy, claims that Republicans want to eliminate Social Security and the rest of the left’s depressing litany.
Scott chose a different narrative. Instead of talking about overcoming, he overcame. He said he had gone “from cotton to Congress” and embraced “victory over victimhood.”
How’s this for inspiration: “We live in the land where it is possible for a kid raised in poverty by a single mother in a small apartment to one day serve in the People’s House and maybe even the White House.”
Echoing Ronald Reagan, Scott added: “America is the city on the hill. I’m living proof that God and a good family and the United States of America can do all things if we believe.”
Predictably, he took some rhetorical shots at President Biden: “America is not a nation in decline,” but under the president he said, it has become “a nation in retreat.”
In 2020, Scott introduced a serious police reform bill. Democrats opposed it. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) used a racially charged word when he claimed Scott’s bill was a “token, half-hearted approach.” It was nothing of the kind, but the partisanship is so deep in Washington that neither side will give credit to the other for anything reasonable and workable.
Scott has said he believes “racism is alive,” but doesn’t dwell on it. Again, from his announcement speech: “When I cut your taxes, they called me a prop. When I re-funded the police, they called me a token. When I pushed back on President Biden, they even called me the N-word. I disrupt their narrative. I threaten their control. The truth of my life disrupts their lies!”
Scott has an impressive $22 million in campaign cash and some early endorsements, including Senate Republican colleagues John Thune and Mike Rounds. Thune calls Scott “the real deal.” Scott quotes the Bible from memory and has the cadence of some Black preachers.
The problem for Scott and other current and future GOP presidential candidates can be summed up in two words: Donald Trump. The former president has an enormous lead in every poll, but circumstances can rapidly change in politics. Trump’s current and future legal troubles might result in a loss of support, but his loyalists have not abandoned him yet, so it seems unlikely they will switch to someone else no matter what happens.
Scott seems disinclined to indulge in personal attacks, unlike Trump who demeans anyone opposing him and makes everything about himself.
During a town hall meeting at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire earlier this month, a questioner asked Scott about President Biden’s age and what some critics have said is his “frailty” and “mental fitness.” Scott didn’t take the bait, preferring to criticize the president’s policies: “I think he’s failing his job because he’s incompetent. I refuse to say it’s because he’s too old or he’s too frail. I think the bottom line is he has been co-opted by the radical left in his party. He ran as a uniter, he’s become a divider.”
Scott will do well on a debate stage and good performances will inevitably boost his name recognition. One of his core issues — school choice — ought to appeal to those inner-city voters who want to get their kids out of failing public schools. The question is whether those voters, who have largely voted for Democrats in the past, try something and someone different?
I give you the words of Max Homa from The Golf Channel: “If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you’re getting.” He was talking about the right way to grip a club, but his statement would fit in Scott’s campaign.