The Washington Post reports that:
Timothy Eugene Scott was growing up poor and black in Charleston, S.C., the son of a nurse’s aide who worked 16-hour shifts, when Strom Thurmond, who ran for president as the standard-bearer for segregationists, was at the peak of his powers in the Senate.
On Monday, the congressman was named to fill the office once held by Thurmond (R), making him the first black Republican to serve in the Senate since Edward Brooke of Massachusetts lost his bid for reelection in 1978. It also makes him the first African American senator from the South since Reconstruction and only the seventh black person ever to serve in that chamber. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) selected him to succeed Jim DeMint (R), who is retiring.
The appointment propels Scott, 47, into the front ranks of a Republican Party trying to demonstrate that it can speak to a broader, non-white constituency. He joins Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in putting a more diverse face on the GOP.
“It is a great day for South Carolina. It is a historic day for South Carolina,” said Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants who broke her own ground as the state’s first female governor, speaking at the statehouse in Columbia.
As the only black U.S. senator, Scott will become one of the most visible and important conservative figures in the country, one whose new prominence will require him to navigate a new set of political realities.
Following Romney's crushing defeat, the Republican Party has done some "soul searching." They have been forced to acknowledge that this country's demographics are changing. The GOP realizes that white people will no longer be the majority. At least in theory, they are looking for ways to appeal to minorities and women. Instead of modifying their repugnant policies, they have resorted to tokenism. The appointment of Tim Scott is a prime example of that tactic.
Hopefully, that tactic will not succeed. Although we all appreciate the historic significance of Tim Scott's appointment, it means nothing for black people. Based on his voting record, he will simply continue the legacy of Senator Jim DeMint in black face.
Tim Scott's policy positions are antithetical to the interests of most African Americans. He supports voter IDs laws designed to suppress black voters. He voted for the Paul Ryan budget. The Ryan budget cuts important programs such Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and food stamps. Those cuts will have a devastating impact upon African Americans. In addition, Scott voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act and to hold the first African American Attorney General, Eric Holder, in contempt of Congress. As noted in the Grio, Scott embraces the racist Tea Party and rejects his own people, the Congressional Black Caucus. By the way, why would any African American co-chair segregationist Strom Thurmond's campaign?!?!
I remember when President George Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Some misguided African Americans argued that we should support him because he is black. They argued that once appointed he would become less conservative and more progressive. Today, decades later, we see how wrong they were. Justice Thomas has used his position of power to erase civil rights gains such as affirmative action. In sum, it is not about black faces in high places. It is about policy, not pigment.
This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.