Sen. Tim Scott running for governor of South Carolina? That sounds like a great thing for the white folks that helped elect Donald Trump into office, but this is not progress for black people.
Sen. Tim Scott is mulling over a 2018 run for governor of the Palmetto State, with Gov. Nikki Haley set to go to Washington to help make America great again as Trump’s UN Ambassador, if she is confirmed. Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster would serve out the remaining two years of Haley’s second term in office.
Appointed by Haley to fill retiring Sen. Jim DeMint’s seat in 2012, then-Congressman Scott had been the first black Republican representative in the state since 1897. He later ran for the seat and became the first black U.S. senator elected in the South since Reconstruction.
Scott could actually pull this thing off. But what would it look like to have an African-American governor of a red state that voted for Trump? It’s not so hard to envision when you consider that the governor would not serve the interests of black folks in South Carolina. Running as a Tea Party candidate in his 2010 run for the House, Scott was endorsed by a who’s who of white ultra-rightwing interests, including Sarah Palin, the Club for Growth, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. DeMint, who now heads the Heritage Foundation and was one of the most conservative Tea Party members of the Senate.
It is worth noting that Sen. Scott is not a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and he scored an F from the NAACP for his voting record. He also voted against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. And he has pursued an anti-labor agenda, which includes introducing a bill to deny food stamps to striking workers. Scott even voted to put a hold on the federal settlement payment to black farmers who had faced discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The black farmers!
Most of all, Scott supported Trump for president, even as he claimed he found the man’s statements and actions as “disgusting,” “indefensible” and “racially toxic.” It just doesn’t square with his amiable personality. After all, Sen. Scott is not some angry, hotheaded, mean-spirited conservative. But he tows the party line. And that line is the white supremacy and nationalism of the Republican Party.
Although he has opened up about being mistreated by the Capitol police because of his race, it seems he has learned nothing from being a black man in America.
Meanwhile, the senator said the decision to go for the governor’s mansion will come down to “God, my family and Trey Gowdy,” his best friend on Capitol Hill and potential running mate as lieutenant governor. Rep. Gowdy was the chair of that worthless and wasteful witch hunt known as the Benghazi committee and was on the short list for attorney general until Trump chose Jeff Sessions for the spot. And both Gowdy and Scott were recently named to Trump’s transition team.
In addition, Scott is even talked about as a Republican Plan B for the 2020 presidential race if Trump doesn’t work out.
“If you call progress electing a person with the pigmentation that he has, who votes against the interest and aspirations of 95 percent of the black people in South Carolina, then I guess that’s progress,” Rep. Jim Clyburn said of Scott to the Washington Post.
Normally, the prospect of first black governor in the Deep South since Reconstruction would be cause for celebration. But there are two different paths to get there. One is by embracing the new South — with its growing Latino population, along with African-Americans and white professionals. Some of these states are destined to turn blue, as white conservatives find themselves in the minority, and the deepest fears of the old plantation owners are realized.
That brings us to the second path, which apparently the South has chosen for now — white backlash and a return to the old South, with voter suppression against people of color, hate crimes and intimidation and a rollback of civil rights. And whether those policies are implemented by white faces or by honorary whites with black or brown skin is irrelevant.
Today, we live in a dangerous America, where black people, Latinos, Muslims and others fear for their lives, because Trump and his lynch mob of a cabinet are coming after us. The stakes are high, and millions of lives hang in the balance. And black politicians such as Tim Scott must decide what army they’re fighting for.
Because as Trump’s foot soldiers, black conservatives — who have long overstayed their welcome since the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court — now are uniquely positioned to do historic, Biblical damage to the hopes and dreams of vulnerable and disenfranchised populations. And some of us will be on hand with pen and pad, taking notes and keeping a tally of those who sold their people down the river for a plate of grits and salt pork.
This is no time for handkerchief heads, but for white folks in South Carolina there is undoubtedly a market for them. And one can always find a black fool somewhere to oblige. If elected governor, Tim Scott would serve the white people of his state well.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove