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Juan Williams: Tim Scott should become a Democrat

Tim Scott has to switch parties. Join the Democrats, senator.


The South Carolina Republican senator told the truth when he said America is not a racist country.

{mosads}And that truth requires him to say that if white supremacist thinking, as inspired by former President Trump, becomes any stronger in the GOP, we risk becoming a racist country.

He can’t give it a free pass without facing the charge that he is being used to cover up racism in the party of Trump.

By crossing over, he will give the Democrats a 51-vote majority in the Senate. They will reward him with leverage over pending legislation, specifically the police reform bill he is now working on.

By staying with the Republicans, Scott is in danger of becoming the fall guy, the Black Republican who looked the other way as the party continued its poor record on Black voter suppression and police brutality.

Scott has power inside the Senate GOP caucus as its only Black member. He is “better positioned than a white Republican to push back on progressive race narratives,” in the words of William McGurn, a conservative writing in The Wall Street Journal.

But that role carries the risk of going down in the history books as the Black man designated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to distract the public while 49 other Republicans, nearly all white, post a failing record on dealing with racial tensions following the police murder of George Floyd.

At the moment, Scott is protected from hearing that criticism. In fact, he is on the verge of becoming a Black man in contention for the presidential nomination in a party that is close to 90 percent white.

That is quite a political story.

Scott tells voters he is a Black man whose family has gone from “cotton fields to Congress.” It took political skill to become the first Black southerner of any party to win a Senate seat since the 1880s, the era of post-Civil War Reconstruction.

And Scott’s rise has come in a party with a troubled history on race, ranging from its embrace of the racist ‘Southern strategy’ after the 1964 Civil Rights Act to its current efforts to suppress Black voting.

In the Trump-branded Republican party of 2021, Scott’s first challenge is police reform.

Scott has personal experience of being treated unfairly by police. By his account, he was stopped by police — including seven times in one year, without good reason.

But even with that personal testimony, Scott could not get enough Republican support for a bill to increase police accountability.

Democrats insisted that any bill end qualified immunity — the technical term for protecting police against lawsuits from people who claim abuse. Republicans refused.

That stand-off ended with no police reform. But pressure continued to build, especially with the conviction for murder of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck until he died.

Now, with Trump gone from the White House, Scott is discussing allowing civilians to sue the police departments but not the police officer.

A win for Scott on any police reform bill will be a first step in reversing the ugly racial divisiveness of the Trump era.

Trump attacked a Black Lives Matter sign as a “symbol of hate,” while always championing police. He saw people marching for racial justice as “thugs” and “anarchists,” as well as “terrorists.”

After he lost the election, Trump’s followers carried the Confederate flag as they rushed into the Capitol on Jan. 6.

{mossecondads}Scott spoke out during the 2020 presidential race when Trump, during a debate, failed to strongly refute white supremacy. That led to a White House meeting but little else.

Similarly, Scott was a rare voice among Senate Republicans calling for attention to working class people, disproportionately Black and Latino, in 2017 negotiations for the Trump tax cuts.

He successfully pushed for Trump’s tax bill to include “Opportunity Zones,” to reward investors who put money into poor neighborhoods.

But when the bill passed, it exploded the deficit with no marked increase in investment to balance the tax breaks for corporations and the rich.

Now when Scott announces that “America is not a racist country,” he opens himself to criticism that he is once again giving the GOP a way to escape responsibility for their racially polarizing policies.

Here is Michael Steele, a Black Republican and former chairman of the national party:

“When Tim puts that [“America is not a racist country”] out there …it is a distraction from the underlying reality and truth, which is that not every American is racist but there are a lot of racists in America,” Steele told Gerald F. Seib in The Wall Street Journal last week.

Vice President Harris recently agreed the U.S. is not a racist country but added, “We also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was most pointed. Scott is out of touch with the reality that “Trump…was taking us backwards” on race, she told a TV station in her home state.

That criticism fits with the reality that in the 2020 election, 87 percent of Black people voted for President Biden against Trump.

If Scott really wants to help the Black community, let him bring his talent to the one party left in America intent on enacting policies to help Black people — Democrats.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags Civil Rights Act Donald Trump Joe Biden Maxine Waters Mitch McConnell racial politics Racism Republican Party Southern Strategy Tim Scott Voter suppression

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