Is Tim Scott running for president or chaplain in chief?, by Julianne Malveaux
6/1/2023, 6 p.m.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott has joined the throng of Republicans seeking to unseat the former president as the frontrunner of that party. So far, Sen. Scott is polling in the single digits, but he has $22 million left from his last senatorial race that he can use for his presidential race.
Other than the historically myopic Florida governor, Sen. Scott has scant competition to date, and from my vantage point he has about as much chance of becoming president as I do.
So why is he really in this race?
The siren call of the presidency beckons many who are long on ambition and short on possibility. But sometimes long shots can make a difference and a statement. Think the Rev. Jesse Louis Jackson, whose historic 1984 and 1988 campaigns opened doors for hundreds of African-American and progressive politicians, and footprints so deep that they are still impactful.
Or think the late Arizona Sen. John McCain whose populist Straight Talk Express was a feature of his failed 2008 presidential bid. There was Shirley Chisholm, whose presidential bid was a landmark for Black folks and for women, and Colorado’s Pat Schroeder who considered a presidential run. All these folks, and most of the others, ran to make a point and make a difference.
What is Tim Scott’s point? In his opening rally on May 22, mostly more diversely attended than usual Republican rallies, he spoke repeatedly of his faith. Punctuating his talk with frequent cries of “Amen,” faith was part of his theme. His talk was also replete with American exceptionalism, describing this nation as “the greatest nation on God’s green earth. Those who have experienced American oppression might argue the “great nation” point, but those who oppose truth-teaching claim that children are being taught to “hate” our country, when all Black Studies and Ethnic Studies want to teach is the truth.
Replete with platitudes, Sen. Scott dropped clichés, such as “from victimhood to victory.” “I chose personal responsibility over resentment”, he said, and engaged in mindless class warfare. President Biden, he says, wants to get “mechanics and waitresses” to pay for student loan forgiveness. In his rambling hour-long speech, Sen. Scott dusted off every Republican cliché about poor people, Black people and others. And he offered himself up as proof that there is no racism in this country. He can’t explain the police killings of Black folks, though he did all he could to block the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (2020) from passing. His life, he says, proves that opportunity works in America. Clearly he is too myopic to acknowledge that there is not enough opportunity for everyone.
What is Sen. Tim Scott running for? Secretary of Commerce, Labor or Housing and Urban Development? He mentioned his Empowerment Zone legislation (which many say has not yielded great results)? Does he want a role in foreign relations, given his rhetoric about China? Does he want to be Donald Trump’s running mate? Or Secretaryof Education (“less CRT and more ABC”)? Or is he running for chaplain?
What is Tim Scott running for?
I think he is running against a series of simple truths. Our nation is in decline thanks to the culture wars in which he so willingly participates. Platitudes and attitudes won’t change any of this. As long as Republicans are willing to punish the poor, restrict women’s right to choose, and improve our education, we will keep spiraling downward. And the scripture-quoting man needs to understand that Bible-thumping is not public policy and faith without works is dead (James 2:26).
The writer is an economist, author and Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at California State University at Los Angeles.