Tim Scott Prepares For 'Please Clap' Presidential Run

Tim Scott Prepares For 'Please Clap' Presidential Run

Friday, the New York Times ran a profile on the junior senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott, who apparently is considering public ritual humiliation, otherwise known as a presidential campaign. The headline is "Tim Scott Weighs 2024 Run, Selling Unity to a Party Eager for a Fight." That might've been good enough for a book deal and maybe even a Cabinet position 20 years ago. Now, it's just sad.

The Times notes that "Scott, the only Black Republican senator, has many political assets. What he lacks is an obvious ability to win over voters who have embraced a Trumpian brand of us-versus-them divisiveness."

That brand isn't uniquely Donald Trump. It traces back to Newt Gingrich, but it's certainly the dominant strain within the party. The days of superficial "compassionate conservatism" are long gone. Black Republicans Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice both worked in George W. Bush's administration, but they are quaint artifacts in today's MAGA reality.


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Just a day after his fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley launched her own campaign, Scott addressed the Charleston County Republican Party at an event that supposedly honored Black History Month.

“If you want to understand America, you need to start in Charleston; you need to understand and appreciate the devastation brought upon African Americans,” Scott said. “But if you stop at our original sin, you have not started the story of America, because the story of America is not defined by our original sin. The story of America is defined by our redemption.”

Amy Walter at Cook Political Report tweeted that Scott's "giving the more optimistic response to ‘war on woke.' " I wish pundits wouldn't uncritically repeat Republican statements against supposed "wokeness" without noting that most anti-racist texts focus on redemption. The much-reviled 1619 Project tells the story of Americans perfecting democracy, but those Americans are primarily Black. That's what triggers conservatives. White Republicans (and many moderates, centrists, liberals, etc.) aren't interested in the true work of redemption. They don't want to listen to Black people, especially those of us with different perspectives. They want Black people to reinforce their own prejudices.

Scott delivered his speech at the Citadel, which cadets and faculty have accused of fostering an environment of pervasive racism. That wasn't back 30 years ago but last month. This includes Blackface statues, racial slurs, and monkey calls. But tell us more about "redemption," senator.

“There is a way for us to unify this country around basic principles that lead us forward and not backward, but we have to quit buying the lie that this is the worst time in American history,” he said on Thursday. “Only if American history started today can that be true.”

This is literally MAGA's defining principle — the country was better in a more exclusionary past and we need to restore that glory. Scott talks about race like a 1990s Black Republican: He admits that institutional racism existed in the past — it's what kept his grandparents in poverty — and still exists today, which he's personally experienced when pulled over for traffic stops or when he tries to enter the Capitol. However, he assures white people that the nation isn't racist. No real change is necessary!

But Tucker Carlson's Republican Party wants to hear Scott say that his grandparents were poor because they didn't work hard enough. They don't even want to acknowledge Jim Crow racism. They certainly don't believe individual cops are sometimes racist, let alone law enforcement itself. Republicans overwhelmingly believe white people are the true victims of racial discrimination.

[Scott] left the podium to discuss the biblical story of Joseph with a white Citadel cadet and member of the Young Republicans, who said earlier in the program that when he reflected on Black history, he remembered how Joseph forgave the brothers who sold him into bondage.

Yikes. But Scott ran with the theme: “The most natural thing to do in life, it feels like, is the instinct we have to pay it back,” he said. “But the story of Joseph is more powerful than simply getting even. The story of Joseph is about getting ahead.”

Yes, forgive, forget, lie back and let your oppressors stomp their feet on your back before entering the house.

[New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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