To analyze the Republican Party primaries, which will begin next year and crown Joe Biden’s challenger, we cannot help but fall into a de facto bipolarity between former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. However, a primary election does not consist only of the favorites – the so-called frontrunner – but also from a number of secondary candidates who have an interest in exploiting the media visibility they will receive in recent months to obtain better positions within the Party and, why not, in the event of mistakes by the main contenders, get back in the race to win.
Among these, the figure of Tim Scott. Senator for the state of South Carolina since 2012 and congressman since 2010, he is the first African-American member of the Southern Senate since Blanche Bruce, who held the position for six years, between 1875 and 1881, in full Reconstruction. Scott’s epic is a story that we can read through the lens of the American Dream: the grandson of an illiterate man who picked cotton for fifty cents a day, the son of a poor couple who divorced when he was only seven, finds himself in high school unable to figure out what his future might be. These are also the most interesting pages of and memoir which the Senator himself published last year, America, a redemption story; so far it seems like a very often heard story, that of a working-class African American from the South who can’t stand out in a system designed to keep him from doing so.
The origins of the epic
As in every great novel, the figure who changes the fate of this scarred life is unsuspected: John Monizthe owner of a shop belonging to the franchise chain Chick-Fil-A, famous for being the closest to the Republican Party among American fast-food restaurants. Moniz, whom Scott often thanks in his speeches for having literally saved his life, takes a young drifter under his wing and educates him according to the values of conservatism, trying to elevate it with respect to the previous social status. In addition to being a particular story, it is also very expendable among the public of the Southa society that prides itself on being much more communitarian than an individualistic North.
Since that meeting Scott has climbed the South Carolina company pyramid to become its Senator in Washington in 2012 in what defines itself as a story that starts, like that of many African Americans, from the grandfather’s cotton harvest, to close as a member of the country’s legislative power, from cotton to Congress. Precisely for this reason, one of his key topics is that of defend America as a land of opportunitycriticizing the defeatism of the majority of African Americans, especially those who vote for the Democratic Party: according to his personal story it is not possible to speak of systemic racismprecisely because this would be nothing more than a clear example of the goodness of mind of the Americans.
A tormented anti-Trumpian
Despite this, in his time in the Senate he did not act forgetting where he came from: entered the daily life of news cycle of Washington when he personally went to the Oval Office to do a “lesson” to Trump on what white supremacy was, a movement that for centuries has sought to keep minority communities out of power. This fact was even more important because it happened immediately after the Charlottesville riots, in which the President improperly compared racists and their protesters. He was an important part of the process that led to theEmmett Till AntiLynching Billwho outlawed lynching as a federal crime, and has spoken openly about being subjected to improper police scrutiny, even after his nomination as a Senator.
Scott’s goal is build a positive message, especially in a campaign that, from the debates onwards, will become increasingly polarized with vitriolic attacks between Trump and his opponents. It is not hidden that one of the electoral segments to which the Senator aims is that of evangelical communityand for this reason he has been tested several times on his personal policies regarding the right to abortion: in recent months he has declared himself firmly pro-life, he was co-sponsor of a bill which limited abortion at the federal level to no later than the twentieth week, but he has always tried, especially if incited on national television, to fail to respond firmly to questions about active policies on the issue he would pursue as president. This because the evangelical Scott collides in this disagreementwhich must be radical in its support for pro-life campaigns to win votes, in the hope that the ex-President’s moral scandals will alienate their support, and the positive Scottwho would like to bring together the disappointed by Trumpism, the moderate republicans for whom, however, abortion is an acquired right.
It follows that the figure of Scott is weak precisely because in the middle of a ford in that which is an electoral cycle that promises to be radical in its proposals, on both the Democratic and Republican sides; and even if the South Carolina Senator cannot be defined as moderate, his calm and conciliatory attitude makes him an alternative to the attacks of the frontrunners. Perhaps one avenue remains for him: he hasn’t attacked anyone head-on, he’s not particularly hated by his opponents and belongs to a group of votes, the African-American one, in which the Republicans must necessarily improve if they want to have a chance of winning. Let this make it a viable candidate for Vice President Who will emerge victorious in the Primary? It could be the final culmination of a journey that began in absolute poverty.
Cover photo EPA/CJ GUNTHER