Love, Scott attract national attention
By Ron Wynn
It will be both instructive and compelling to see how Love and Scott operate in the new Congress when it begins meeting next year. The Republicans in most races didn't run on anything of their own. They based their campaigns almost totally on being anti-Obama, whether it was saying they would repeal Obamacare, talking about how he was running an "Imperial Presidency," or just taking advantage of his low approval ratings, particularly among their constituency, which remains predominantly white, old and male.
But among the other parts of the electorate, particularly Blacks, Latinos, college-educated women, and young people, Democrats are still ahead, albeit with less vigor than six years ago. The Root, a Black website based in Washington, D.C. even published a hypothetical article posing the question whether the relationship between Blacks and Democrats was on the skids. They pointed to disillusionment over the still overly high Black unemployment rate, problems with HBCU funding and a general disenchantment in some quarters over a perceived lack of accountability from Democratic leadership despite decades of support from the African American community as signs of declining influence.
What this means for both Love and Scott is that they will be watched very closely over the next couple of years by not only Black voters, but political buffs curious to see if either advances further up the ranks in regards to the GOP. There hasn't been a time since the '70s, when Edward Brooke was the Republican Senator from Massachusetts, that there was a high profile Black in that body on the GOP side. Despite the Bush administration that had both Colin Powell and Condilezza Rice in Cabinet positions, neither ever made any inroads among Black voters in terms of convincing them the GOP wasn't at best indifferent and at worse dominated by racists anxious to turn back the clock.
Thus far, such Black organizations as the NAACP and Urban League have been silent in regards to their feelings about Scott and Love's wins. So have most high profile Black politicians. Since both were elected by overwhelmingly white voting bases, the assumption is that their loyalty will be first and foremost to those folks rather than to some extended Black national agenda. Yet both are also in positions of power, and thus able in some ways to also shape the direction of the Republican Party just by their presence as elected officials.
Most of the Black community is unfamiliar with either Love or Scott, and didn't pay much attention to them as they ran their campaigns. Thus they have a fairly clean slate so far as Black voters are concerned. If they become advocates for positions that look, either directly or implicitly, like racist stances they will be viewed as nothing more than Black stalking horses for white reactionaries. But if they should express support for such things as increased funding for HBCU's, more programs designed to help Black business growth, even expanded roles for faith-based support systems (dicey but something that has strong backing among the Black church sector), they can get some Blacks to possibly reconsider their views regarding the GOP.
The next two years will be rather interesting indeed, not only for Mia Love and Tim Scott, but for any savvy observer of politics in general. Only time will tell if they prove to be friends or foes of Black empowerment and improvement,
There were three dominant themes being consistently explored throughout Election Night and the immediate aftermath of the Republicans taking the Senate and expanding their margin in the House. The first was the notion presented on CNN and elsewhere that the Democratic core groups, Blacks, young people, women didn't turn out in the numbers they had for the two Presidential elections. The second was this looked very much like a rerun of the second Clinton term when the same thing happened to him,
But the third and the most intriguing was the election in South Carolina of Tim Scott to the Senate and in Utah of Mia Love to the House of Representatives. Both results were historic. The Scott victory was the first time a Black person had been elected to the Senate from South Carolina since Reconstruction (the 19th century for those who aren't history buffs). It elicited a lot of discussion in media circles about whether this represented a real turnaround for a party that's been typed in most circles as hostile (at best) to any minority and especially to Blacks, or whether this was a fluke that really was atypical rather than indicative of change.
Love's first major media interview didn't exactly make those curious about whether Republicans were suddenly interested in broadening their horizons feel warm and fuzzy. Love said she didn't consider her victory a result of anything other than the voters of Utah picking her because they trusted her vision and honesty. She denied race had anything to do with her election and expressed disdain at even being asked about the GOP and its recent history with Blacks. She considered any and all discussion about the matter "dividing people along the lines of race" or some other rhetoric.
Among past statements, Love has said she wanted to "destroy the Congressional Black Caucus," and has expressed open contempt for numerous sitting Black representatives. She was far more amenable to discussion after her win, talking about a desire to join the Caucus and see if there were areas where they could work together. Scott, who initially was a replacement appointment and now has won a full term, also initially expressed his opposition to the Caucus, but then joined and reportedly established a decent rapport with the membership, despite being at the time the only Republican in the group.