Tim Scott is a welcome addition to GOP presidential primary

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina is running for president. I welcome his entry into the field and look forward to hearing more from him as this primary season progresses.

Scott is an admirable figure with a proper understanding of what America represents. His aim in running for president, he said this morning, is to counter the “lie that our country is evil,” to declare that “America is not a racist country,” and to celebrate the “goodness of our nation.” There are, Scott argued, two paths ahead: One can be “bitter,” or one can be “better,” but one cannot be both. These are not mere abstractions. Scott was raised poor by a single mother. His grandfather was an uneducated cotton-picker who grew up under Jim Crow. As a teenager, he almost failed out of high school. “Today,” Scott contended, “I am living proof that America is the land of opportunity, not a land of oppression.” Indeed so.

Scott has a great deal to recommend him. He is popular with his colleagues in the Senate. He presents conservatism well, in a manner that is likely to attract converts. He has a friendly, honest, and open affect, which helps him discuss the thorniest issues in America in an unusually constructive way. In a word: He is an optimist. Historically, Republicans have done well when they have run optimists. All things being equal, the party has tended to do better when led by those who embodied the upward mobility from humble beginnings that the party preaches.

As both a member of the House and as a senator, Scott has exhibited a solid conservatism. He has backed tax cuts, supported American energy independence, made efforts to secure the border, and introduced legislation to tie welfare more closely to work. He is pro-life, supportive of the Second Amendment, and a champion of conscience rights. He is in favor of school choice and critical of national education policies. His record on judges is excellent.

Nevertheless, Scott’s candidacy remains a long shot. He has no public executive experience, he is untested on the national stage, and he has not yet had to formulate comprehensive positions in areas that are important to the presidency, such as trade, foreign policy, and the daily oversight of federal agencies. This is already a crowded field, with Donald Trump the strong front-runner, with Ron DeSantis in second, and with many others — including Nikki Haley, who hails from the same state as Scott — making up the rest of the field. And it is yet to be seen whether Scott’s Reaganesque optimism is what the Republican primary electorate will be seeking. Since the fall of 2015, anger and near despair have determined the party’s course more than optimism and hope.

For many voters, anger is a proxy for the courage to fight for one’s convictions. Scott will have to run as himself, but in order to persuade primary voters, he will need to convince them — as Reagan once did — that he has the steel to fight for their concerns with a smile.

Still, in politics as in life, things continue as they are until, suddenly, they stop. It is May 2023, a year and a half before the next presidential election, and, at this point, anything can happen. There are good reasons for the Republican Party to wish to limit the size of its field by discouraging vanity candidates from running, but those reasons do not apply to Tim Scott, a serious man who should be given a serious chance to make his case.

If it doesn’t work out, he should have the wisdom to drop out before playing the role of spoiler. But we look forward to having his voice in the race.
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post