In Tim Scott’s Wake
Myrtle Beach, S.C. — Tim Scott, the newest member of the U.S. Senate, got a hero’s welcome from the groups meeting here for the South Carolina Tea Party Convention this weekend. Scott, who replaced Jim DeMint as South Carolina’s junior senator this month, has had a meteoric rise in politics. Five years ago he was a member of Charleston’s city council. Since then he has won a seat in the state legislature, and in 2010, he became the first African-American Republican elected to the House from a Deep South state in decades.
Scott knows the cadences of Sunday preaching well. He has boiled down his message into sound bites that express support for free markets and traditional values, and opposition to all tax increases — all views that are “nothing more than common sense,” he said. When he asked his audience on Sunday what his platform represented, he wasn’t satisfied with the chorus that answered “common sense.” “I can’t hear you,” he exclaimed. The crowd shouted louder, and he spread out his arms and yelled back, “It’s just common sense!”
This Sunday was special to Scott because, he said, “I have the privilege of speaking to both the NAACP and the Tea Party in the same day.” “I love civil rights,” he told the crowd. Then he flashed an impish grin and added, “I just want civil rights for everybody.” With just a few words, Scott instantly bonded with his almost entirely white audience, sending the message “I know you’re not racist, your positions are valid, and it’s the other side that plays favorites.”