Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tim Scott and the future of the Republican Party

By Frank Moraes 

In his farewell address to the Senate, Jim DeMint said, "If we can win the hearts and minds of the American people with these ideas, I know we can engage and enlist them to convince all of you here to set the politics aside, the parties aside, and to adopt those ideas that work." It has a certain charm to it: let's put politics and parties aside and all agree to be Republicans. This is kind of at the heart of the Republican Party: the religious belief that they have good ideas. But as I've written before, other than tax cuts for the rich, destroying the social safety net, and an intense desire for power as power, they have no actual ideas. And regardless, they never test their ideas. They don't mean to shrink the size of government because it will be good for the country; the want a smaller government because they believe in a smaller government.

Jamelle Bouie reports at The Plum Line blog, "GOP Elevates Reactionary Tim Scott to South Carolina Senate Seat." How reactionary? He has the usual Republi-Crazy positions: climate change denier, deep-water oil drilling proponent, stem-cell research opponent. But in addition, he proposed a bill that would deny assistance to any family that had a member who went on strike. And he wanted to impeach Obama over the debt ceiling.

Bouie notes, "It should be said that for all of the real problems the GOP has with diversity in terms of its organization and its candidate pool, the party does an excellent job of elevating the minorities that do find themselves in its tent." Of course, that is just a symptom of their fundamental racial problem. Rather than court minority groups with policy, they instead elevate those few minorities in their coalition. Frankly, I don't think that Bobby Jindal or Marco Rubio are really ready for prime-time national politics. Neither would have risen so fast in the Democratic Party.

The same is at least as true of Tim Scott, who is an African American. He has only been in the House for one term. But more to the point, he is yet another example of the Republican Party trying to change its brand without changing its policies. Michael P. Jeffries writes in The Atlantic, "Scott's policy positions prove him just as tone-deaf to the modern political world as his most conservative GOP colleagues. That makes him one of them at the same time he's a useful foil. What he won't be, however, is someone who helps the GOP win black and Hispanic voters."

Jeffries goes on to talk about how it is that Scott is just a token in the Republican Party. Primarily, as with Herman Cain, he is a black man who completely reinforces the white power structure. And as a result, he wins by getting almost exclusively support from whites. But even more, he is only accepted in the party as long as he follows along. This makes me think of David Brock who explains in his book Blinded By the Right how he was accepted as a gay man as long as he was shilling for the conservative movement. The moment he strayed even a little, he saw what he had always been to them: a useful tool.

So the Republican Party continues to look for ways to not change. The appointment of Tim Scott is an excellent example of this doomed effort.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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