U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Rising Star in American Politics, Visits McCormick
By Greg Deal
~ Political News/Commentary ~
When he enters a room, he’s every bit the rock star. Everyone wants to shake his hand. Republicans. Democrats. Independents. It doesn’t matter.
Photo by Greg K. Deal
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) commands a crowd wherever he goes. The first African-American United States senator from South Carolina doesn’t go around the Palmetto State telling a rags-to-riches African-American story of struggle and perseverance. He tells an American story with those characteristics, and it’s just that which elevates him above race and party and sets him apart as someone to watch as a rising star in American politics.
“I’m called to be a senator for all constituents,” Scott said as he met this week with community members at the McCormick County Administration building. “I don’t say, ‘My doors are open,’ but I go into the communities to meet people.”
Scott doesn’t sound like any other politician in Washington. He might be the closest thing to the real deal most people will see these days. He believes you shouldn’t hide from your past, but instead be authentic and embrace life struggles as a way to connect with people. When asked about bringing more African-Americans into a party that represents family values and entrepreneurship – two things that are very important in the minority communities – he stressed just being honest, real and authentic … things he believes transcend race, but also allows one to reach out to minority communities, like McCormick, where African-American-owned businesses are prominent.
The conservative Republican doesn’t speak to one crowd in one voice and change tune when speaking to another group. You get what you get. He told the crowd in McCormick he didn’t want to tell his story because he believes his story is best told when he answers constituents’ questions. Refreshing. Unexpected. Certainly a wakeup call for any reporter who has covered politicians for 20 years who go from stump to stump telling the same faux jokes.
Sen. Scott isn’t afraid to say his parents were divorced and that his mother’s best method of discipline was a belt. He admits he flunked out of high school as a freshman – before his family and a community business owner rallied around him and ensured he reached his potential and didn’t “fall through the cracks,” as he put it.
A small business owner helped a then-young African-American male understand the value of competition in a free-market society. This strong evangelical Christian, who went on to achieve a higher education and played football for Presbyterian College, learned that, “People connect to your pain more than your prosperity.” He said his life struggles help define who he is, but family and those in the business world helped him see within himself the potential that he could not see.
Sen. Scott was appointed to his current office by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley after Republican Sen. Jim DeMint’s resignation to become president of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. Scott was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives before his appointment to the Senate this year.
He graduated from Charleston Southern University after attending Presbyterian College on a partial football scholarship. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from CSU in 1988 and is a financial adviser.
The 47-year-old, who has a bright, wide smile and broad shoulders – and doesn’t look a day over 35 – is confident but not cocky. He can work a room and answer the simple and the toughest of questions with ease, grace and passion. He’s clearly self-assured and confident in his conservative ideals, as he said he doesn’t believe in moving to the center or to the left of the political aisle, but rather believes in helping people see what he has learned to be true – that his personal beliefs in conservatism are worth more than a cursory look by people from all political backgrounds.
Sen. Scott was riding to Lowe’s with his 93-year-old grandfather in a Ford F-150 recently, and his grandfather explained how proud he is of how far America has come in his lifetime. His grandfather talked about what he has seen and where we are today. “It’s miraculous,” Sen. Scott quotes his grandfather as saying. Then the wise grandfather told Sen. Scott that he has been blessed by God to do something special.
The senator says his family’s legacy is in using hands instead of giving speeches, and this defines Sen. Scott, who says it’s important to use commonsense in politics and also meet people where they are instead of waiting for them to come to him. In McCormick, the senator did not walk in and rattle off the typical canned political speech. Instead, he started working the room and learning about people. He knew he was on a tight schedule, but he clearly wanted to not just listen but truly to hear what constituents had to say.
The senator’s mother always told him to shoot for the moon, and, if he falls short, he’ll be among the stars. In other words, don’t set your goals at the lowest expectation, but instead aim much higher. If you come short then, coming short will still be pretty spectacular.
Scott has learned education is the key to success. In fact, education and entrepreneurship are two items he fuses together in his agenda. He is extremely positive about America: “We have a fascinating opportunity coming our way,” he said.
Like professor John Keating speaking to his class in the inspirational film “Dead Poets Society,” Sen. Scott urges for carpe diem – Latin for “seize the day (or moment)” – when it comes to righting America and setting us on the course for a bright future. A part of doing that is not living on borrowed money, he said. He compared the interest and years of paying the minimum payment on a credit card to how the federal government is running itself. He says it must stop. He said many of the programs, including the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), wouldn’t be funded if not for “continuing resolutions,” which he said is the “dumbest way” the government could possibly handle short-term financial issues. He harkens back to his family advice about using commonsense and says he’ll be voting against continuing resolutions.
A continuing resolution is a type of appropriations legislation used by Congress to fund government agencies if a formal appropriations bill has not been signed into law by the end of the congressional fiscal year.
On ObamaCare, Scott had an interesting set of facts and opinions on how the funding and rollout have translated into impacting the uninsured. He said we started with 15 percent of Americans who were uninsured, and the original ObamaCare funding estimate was $900 billion. In 2011, that figure was revised to $1.8 trillion to fund the entitlement program, and then later revised to a current $3 trillion.
Since the advent of ObamaCare, Scott said, 10 percent of the country is still uninsured and the quality and access to healthcare has been greatly reduced. He said family practitioners are leaving their professions, also – a statement backed by recent research and reports in newspapers such as the Washington Times, and on TV networks such as CNN. PhysiciansPractice.com and other physician-focused websites are filled with testimonies of longtime family doctors and specialists like cardiologists who are quitting their practices or retiring early because they feel the government is encroaching on their private, personal relationships with patients.
Scott also said, in response to a question about who can make those in elected office follow the Constitution, that there is “no authority” for picking and choosing what you like and don’t like about a law. He said this “shoots at” the very nature of the rule of law. He said the only way to stop a runaway federal government or president who sidesteps laws is for the American people to bring lawsuits against the federal government.
Scott says he does not let himself get mired in partisan politics, but instead looks for a conservative solution that works for a more robust economy for everyone. He fielded questions about the president’s leadership – or, as several questioners clearly believed, lack of leadership – in recent foreign crises, scandals or gaffes.
He said that in Egypt, it’s critical we “step up to the plate” and not sit around and let others make decisions that impact our ability to make good decisions on behalf of America. He said we must do what’s in the national interest, and he said that involves protecting our ally, Israel, during the process.
Scott also fielded a question about nuclear waste storage in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The site’s status remains uncertain after litigation and opposition from Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D), who is also the Senate majority leader. Pressure by Reid and orders from the White House under President Obama have kept the Yucca Mountain Repository site in balance, and many states, including South Carolina, have critical interest in nuclear waste storage. Scott said this is just another example of picking and choosing laws to obey and ones to ignore. The site was approved for use under a Republican Congress, but it was defunded under the present administration.
Scott had other visits in the Lakelands region on Monday, including Greenwood and Abbeville. He’s making his way around the state to meet with constituents, regardless of party affiliation or lack of party affiliation, to hear, firsthand, their concerns and address them face-to-face.
Scott’s status as the first African-American U.S. Senator from this state has not become some sideshow attraction. Listening to questions and hearing the answers, it’s clear Sen. Scott – though proud of his heritage – is a rising star in the Republican Party not because of his ability to attract the minority vote, but because he has ideas that resonate, he doesn’t speak from well-worn talking points, and he comes off as authentic and genuinely concerned in the lifestyle and wellbeing of the people he represents.
Scott might very well represent a powerful new voice in the party for years to come – with the White House, in a decade or so, not out of the question.
This news/political commentary includes both news fact and opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Shorelines Media.