It’s “morning in America” for Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. That phrase will ring a bell for older Americans who remember President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign. Whether that slogan struck a chord with Scott, who was turning 20 at the time, is not clear. However, the senator, who officially announced his candidacy for president May 22, has chosen to hitch his star to the attitude of optimism for his presidential campaign. Whether it will resonate with a 21st-century electorate remains to be seen; for Scott, it is in keeping with who he is and his experience as an American.
Optimism may be a tough sell in 2023. A Gallup survey revealed an 18% drop in an optimistic worldview from 2019, with only 42% of those polled saying they believe their children will have a better life than they do. Gallup noted, “The general pattern throughout the trend has been that in periods of economic challenges, such as elevated unemployment, recession or high inflation, optimism is comparatively low.” Thus, considering the current economic conditions, voters are not feeling too upbeat.
So why would Scott be selling something that voters are unlikely to buy? The answer may lie in the authenticity of the candidate. His campaign slogan — Faith in America — is a clever double entendre. While many pundits will certainly make much of this senator’s race, his faith, not the color of his skin, is what animates him.
Defined as “the belief that … good will ultimately triumph over evil,” optimism dovetails perfectly with the South Carolinian’s closely held faith. As a Christian, Scott knows the Bible’s fundamental message is the same.
Tim Scott on the Political Road to Damascus
Born in North Charleston in 1965, Scott was raised by a single mom after his parents divorced when he was only seven years old. His early life was fraught with challenges as his mother worked double shifts as a nursing assistant to maintain a family of two boys, Tim and his older brother Ben. His senatorial website reveals his troubled early days and asserts: “Tim’s path forward was murky at best.”
But America is replete with stories of men and women who overcame poverty and hardship on the pathway to success, and Tim Scott is one of these. After graduating from public high school, he matriculated at Presbyterian College but graduated from Charleston Southern University.
South Carolina’s junior senator credits the Palmetto State Program (a youth leadership curriculum) with fueling his desire for public service. He ran for Charleston County Council and won; he subsequently lost a state senate race. However, the political school of hard knocks didn’t keep him down for long. He persevered in state politics until 2008, ultimately becoming chairman of the County Council.
Scott entered the race for the US House of Representatives in 2008, won the GOP primary with 53% of the vote, and sailed unopposed to victory in the general election. In an ironic twist, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Scott to the upper chamber when Sen. Jim DeMint decided to retire to become president of the Heritage Foundation (now run by Kevin D. Roberts.) Haley has since announced her candidacy for president, and one wonders if she may have created her own Waterloo.
Many supporters maintain Scott has sterling GOP credentials. He’s also written legislation on police reform and race that leftists have used as a cudgel to beat the junior senator over the head. As Liberty Nation’s Graham J Noble wrote, “Little wonder then that Scott has been continually bombarded with abuse – some of it very racist in nature – since he has become known as a force to be reckoned with.” Worse still for Democrats, as the New York Times postulated, “his candidacy could raise not only his profile, but those of Black conservatives across the country.”
Scott’s positive attitude and enthusiasm were apparent in making his announcement. He was loose and relaxed, sported an infectious smile, and made jokes about his inability to dance. The senator opened with “God bless you” and “I’m so proud to be an American. Are you proud to be an American?” Then he got down to business: “For those of you who wonder if it’s possible for a broken kid in a broken home to rise beyond their circumstances, the answer is yes,” he told an inspired group of supporters. His speech came off as a sincere and genuine expression of who he is.
When Reagan blanketed the airwaves with “morning in America” ads during the 1984 presidential campaign in his successful bid for a second term in the White House, he was capitalizing on the country’s renewed optimism built over the four years he had already served. Whether that message would have resonated with Americans when he first ran against Jimmy Carter in 1980, when the country faced economic peril, is questionable. Will optimism sell in today’s America? Sen. Tim Scott is about to find out.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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