How will Tim Scott help Republicans in the Senate?

Opinion

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But the soon-to-be senator seems to care about children if they are unborn, as he cosponsored legislation as a state representative to create a “monument on the statehouse grounds to remember all the aborted babies in” South Carolina.  In addition, the congressman has voted to defund Planned Parenthood, ban federal funding of abortion, and restrict abortion after 20 weeks in Washington, DC.

On immigration, Scott sponsored legislation modeled after Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, and supported legislation eliminating birthright citizenship to children born in the U.S.  He also wants to “promote patriotic assimilation” by making English the official language and forcing new immigrants to learn the language.

Haley’s task was to choose someone who can win the seat outright in the 2013 special election.  In selecting Scott for the Senate seat, Gov. Haley said, “It is very important to me, as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat. He earned this seat for the person that he is. He earned this seat for the results he has shown.”

And he has earned that seat for the value he brings to his party. Like his rabid, recently-defeated colleague Rep. Allen West (R-Florida), Scott will faithfully vouch for the worst policies imaginable, providing cover for the GOP on racially polarizing positions because of his skin color.  Similarly, conservative women such as Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) put a friendly face on the war on women.

Republicans of color such as Scott, Haley, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) are popular among conservatives because of their ideas, not their racial or ethnic background.  They don’t speak to the issues of concern to constituents of color because those voters are not a part of the GOP base.  Scott, who beat Strom Thurmond’s son for the GOP nomination for the House seat, did not have to concern himself with the black vote because he ran in a district that is 73 percent white.  Further, Rubio would have been Romney’s running made had he been able to deliver the Latino vote for Romney in Florida.  Black voters are not fooled by a politician with a black face if that person does not speak to their issues in their language.

Ask Artur Davis, who lost the black vote in the Alabama Democratic gubernatorial primary to his white challenger Ron Sparks.  Davis became the first black candidate to lose the black vote in a statewide election in Alabama, because he snubbed the black community and courted the white conservative vote instead.  Subsequently, Davis proved the black folk right by becoming a Republican and supporting voter ID.

Besides, African-Americans are reminded of Clarence Thomas, whose Supreme Court nomination represented the most cynical form of affirmative action, and an outright assault on a rich legacy left by his predecessor Thurgood Marshall.  Justice Thomas’ humble roots in Pin Point, Georgia and his attitude of self-reliance made him a Republican favorite.  Moreover, he became a tool in the dismantling of civil rights, and a disappointment to African-Americans.  As President George W. Bush would say, “You can’t get fooled again.”

And this is why the Republican experiment of placing darker faces in high places is doomed to fail, even as it may score them some diversity points in the near term.

The Scott appointment, however historic, is pure window dressing, a facade of diversity, and more of the same old Tea Party tricks.  Perhaps the face of the Republican Party is changing—or at least some faces—but their message of extremism and intolerance remains the same.  Cosmetics are no substitute for a substantive policy shift.  And with that strategy, the GOP shores up the base, yet yields no black voters, no white moderates and no women.

Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove