Political Animal


December 17, 2012 1:18 PM Tim Scott Named to DeMint Senate Seat

By Ryan Cooper

Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina announced the other day that he would retire; his preferred replacement was Rep. Tim Scott. Now it’s official:

Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has chosen Representative Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the United States Senate, according to three Republican officials. The move will make Mr. Scott the first black senator from the South since the late 19th century.

This was unsurprising and overall, little is changed. DeMint was perhaps the most conservative senator, and as Thinkprogress has detailed, Scott is really conservative as well.

Still, it’s a nice bit of history. South Carolina was once the center of a treasonous rebellion, a state so fanatically dedicated to chattel slavery that they started an aggressive war rather than give it up, and died in the tens of thousands as a result. And for a century afterward they enforced a system of white supremacy backed up by terrorist violence.

Now in that state the conservative party has a black senator. Obviously it’s not the cure for all racial issues, but all other things equal, it’s a good sign.


Ryan Cooper is a National Correspondent at The Week, and a former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @ryanlcooper


  • allamr18 on December 17, 2012 1:54 PM:

    Hmm I guess a black senator from SC means something to history buffs but what does it mean policy wise for SC? I mean what is tim scott going to come in and do? Demint was there and passed literally nothing for 2 years. And Scott has been around maybe 3 years and has nothing to his name either. What is he going to come in and say My name is on this bill that helped do what exactly? Just like Mike Lee of utah. They can stay elected forever and literally have nothing to show for it. Im not sure why outside of him being the african american senator from SC we should celebrate. SC is still remarkably old fashioned and conservative so nothing changes.

  • Zorro on December 17, 2012 2:02 PM:

    I'm reminded of what Justice Thurgood Marshall said when people discussed whether a black man should be nominated to replace him: "My dad told me there's no difference between a black snake and a white snake. They both bite."


  • BillFromPA on December 17, 2012 2:05 PM:

    Please! Scott is nothing more than a token the repugs will point to in their 'outreach' to African American voters, that is unless they can completely supress that demographic, their preferred solution. As a 62 yr old WASP I'll never have the opportunity to understand the mentality of a theoretically intelligent person who embraces an organization that so clearly hates me and anyone who looks like me.

  • NCSteve on December 17, 2012 2:10 PM:

    Like every other form of tyranny, American chattel slavery worked only because a certain percentage of the victims of a tyrannical regime will always be willing to collaborate with the oppressors in exchange for privileges.

  • Robb on December 17, 2012 2:42 PM:

    I personally think the minority conservatives are more a sign of the rest of the nation developing than the conservative states. The conservative states just recognize it.

    They think having a minority candidate allows gives them a get out of racist allegations free card. And it's not like the history of racism in this country hasn't been punctuated by tokens and people who are "a credit to their race."

    Conservatives consider minority candidates a convenient way to counter the "race card" they're obsessed with (dontcha know, that's the only critique anyone ever has against Obama's critics-- so say the conservatives).
    They have the same value as the "some of my best friends are ____" placeholders.
    And they often act as allegation-proof mouthpieces to push racist stereotypes. When a black man claims that people of his race are government-dependent shirkers, he's not being racist, right? At least that's conservative logic. Brought to you by the same people who think blacks that vote 90% for black Democrats and white Democrats are racist-- and that liberals don't back black Republicans somehow makes them racist.

    Don't look for a come-to-Jesus movement on racism for the South.
    This is more of a crutch for their racist beliefs than an antidote.

  • Josef K on December 17, 2012 2:57 PM:

    Forget his skin pigmentation; the policy positions he's advocated are nuts! Consider:

    *Impeachment of the President over the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations.

    *Terminate food stamps for any household with just one member as part of a labor strike.

    *Voted to slash state HIV/AIDS funding.

    Isn't the country going nuts fast enough as it is? Do we really need more certifiable lunatics in the legislature as well?

  • jim filyaw on December 17, 2012 3:21 PM:

    the only good i see coming from this is that scott is so much a step'nfetchit (denzel washington set out the dichotomy quite well in the movie, 'X') that he will end up a poster child to the disingenuity of the republican regard for the rights of the less fortunate. instead of 'uncle tom', its 'uncle tim'.

  • meady on December 17, 2012 3:23 PM:

    The existance and elevation of a black politician to Senator does not inoculate the GOP from allegations of racism. Tokenism is still racism. I don't know enough about Scott to know whether or not he would have been considered were he white. I get the impression that this may be a case of his being exactly what the Southern GOP would like and was chosen in spite of his skin color rather than because of it. That in itself does show an odd sort of progress. Though the emerging charaterization of appears to be self-loathing on the part of Scott (along racial lines) tends to highlight what is very precient in this nation. Like the the gun loving, Christianity obsessed, fear, and paranoia that grips the nation; there are signals of mental instability. The need to not only to see the world in absolutes, but that the absolutes are almost entirely negative stereotypes against large portions of humans/US citizens and that this country is only made stronger by diminishing those people. The notion that a man who sees the rest of the world in absolutes and yet sees himself as exceptions to those absolutes is the perfect replacement for Demint should be horrifying to sane people. Yet his selection surprises no one. This world is scary and crazy.

  • T2 on December 17, 2012 3:29 PM:

    "a good sign" I think the guy has extreme, dangerous views on many issues accepted and taken for granted by most Americans. Now he's in the Senate and that's a good sign? I think we'll find out otherwise.

  • c u n d gulag on December 17, 2012 3:41 PM:

    There's some really nice money in being a "token."
    Some prestige, and maybe even some power, too.

    And all you have to do, is sit there, and laugh at their jokes about people like you, and nod when they tell you that, "Not YOU!", but people like you, are the problem with this country and the world.

    If you can take that without it eating at your insides, and your soul, you will retire fairly well off.
    If you have any conscience though, the self-loathing may lead to an early grave.

  • Peter C on December 17, 2012 3:52 PM:

    From what @Josef K reports, it seems that Mr. Scott (like Alan West) will 'wear' his crazy 'loud and proud'. That won't help the Republican Party with its overall image among thinking Americans.

    We need a 50-state strategy so that we can effectively seize these opportunities.

  • Zorro on December 17, 2012 4:00 PM:

    We need a 50-state strategy so that we can effectively seize these opportunities.

    The Dems had a 50 state strategy- with that very name- when Howard Dean was the DNC chair; the Dems dumped him b/c I think they'd rather lose comfortably than actually compete everywhere.

    Pathetic, really,

  • MuddyLee on December 17, 2012 4:11 PM:

    South Carolina now has a minority senator and a minority governor - both extremely conservative. So we have the sort of diversity that republicans like. Gov Haley could have done worse - maybe - she could have selected Mick Mulvaney or Trey Gowdy. Interesting fact: Tim Scott has the House seat once occupied by Mark Sanford and it's possible that Jenny Sanford will run for that seat. She is also very conservative. Scott's first words after the official announcement: we have a spending problem, not a revenues problem. I'll bet he doesn't think we have a MILITARY spending problem, however. Haley owes her office to Palin's endorsement. Scott owes his office to DeMint's endorsement. Sigh...

  • AndThenThere'sThat on December 17, 2012 7:05 PM:

    Now in that state the conservative party has a black senator. ....itís a good sign.

    It would have been a "good sign" had the people populating the state of SC actually "voted" for a black senator, which of course, they did not.

    Still, itís a nice bit of history.

    If by nice bit of history you mean, the first Southern black senator in over a hundred years being put there by fiat, then yes it is a nice bit of history.

  • TCinLA on December 17, 2012 7:38 PM:

    Exactly how does the rise of Senator Step'n Fetchit, Ol' Massa's chief house servant, a guy who is politically indistinguishable from Jim DeMint, advance anything politically progressive????

  • Nick on December 18, 2012 12:20 AM:

    A 'good sign'? Of what? The unending lunacy of the GOP?

  • grandpa john on December 18, 2012 11:32 AM:

    It would have been a "good sign" had the people populating the state of SC actually "voted" for a black senator, which of course, they did not.
    And being from SC i would be willing to say they won't vote for him in 2014 either

  • grandpa john on December 18, 2012 11:33 AM:

    It would have been a "good sign" had the people populating the state of SC actually "voted" for a black senator, which of course, they did not.
    And being from SC i would be willing to say they won't vote for him in 2014 either