Our positive new senator
Deep partisan divisions inevitably fuel dire warnings from politicians. Listen to enough of those alarms, and it’s all too easy to become downcast over our nation’s seemingly negative fate — and angry at the ideological opposition for inflicting it.
But from Charleston County Council to the S.C. House to the U.S. House and now beyond, Tim Scott has always resisted that ugly trend by maintaining an upbeat approach.
He has predictably drawn plenty of national attention since being appointed last month by Gov. Nikki Haley to replace Jim DeMint: He is the first black person to serve as a U.S. senator from South Carolina — and the only one in the current Senate.
However, as more Americans get to know Sen. Scott, they’ll see that he also stands out in the political crowd as a resolute optimist.
Yes, on Friday Sen. Scott again fairly disputed NAACP President Ben Jealous’ charge that he doesn’t “believe in civil rights.” But after branding that notion “ridiculous” Thursday night during an appearance on Fox News’ “On The Record with Greta Van Susteren,” he characteristically stressed the positive.
The man who grew up in humble circumstances in North Charleston even acted as a cheerleader of sorts, explaining: “In the next two weeks, I’ll speak at my high school — Stall High School. Go Warriors!”
Stall students had watched a live feed from Washington earlier Thursday as the former Warrior running back was sworn into the Senate by Vice President Joe Biden. If they listened later that night, they heard him give this preview of what he will tell them: “I’m looking forward to going to my old high school and talking about the teachers who empowered me to think for myself, looking at an opportunity to talk to kids who are coming up in single-parent homes about the fact that if you work hard, you have a strong work ethic and you have discipline, the future’s very bright for you.”
He added, though, that his future was looking rather dim after his first year at Stall: “As a freshman I failed world geography, civics, Spanish and English. When you fail Spanish and English, they don’t call you bilingual — they call you ignorant.”
Now they call him “Senator.”
He gave fair credit to his mother and his mentors for setting him on the right path: “I was able to have folks come into my life at the right time and help me to jump forward.”
A proven fiscal conservative, Sen. Scott correctly stressed the related needs to protect “the free-market system” and promote “the small-government concept.” Yet he didn’t sully that pitch by accusing liberals of bad intentions.
Far too many on both political sides poison the national debate by questioning not just each other’s judgments but their motives.
Fortunately, that’s not our new senator’s style.
Even those who differ with his opinions on public policy should admire his ability to rise above the increasingly bitter partisan fray.
They also should applaud this message he expressed Thursday night: “I think about kids who are coming up in the same situation that I came up in. We can talk to those kids about the fact that this country — the American Dream — is alive. It’s well.”
And we expect Tim Scott’s positive approach to serve him — and us — well in the Senate.