There's something strange about reactions to the appointment of Rep. Tim Scott of SC to the Senate. So says New Yorker writer Kelefa Sanneh of Scott, who in January will become only the second black Republican to serve in the Senate in the modern era.
"The success of a black Republican can present an awkward situation for partisans on both sides," Sanneh writes. "Republicans, generally inclined to mock the liberal fascination with race, suddenly find themselves moved to expound upon the importance of breaking racial barriers. Meanwhile, Democrats, who normally love to celebrate African-American firsts, experience an uncharacteristic onset of reticence."
Scott will have to win election in 2014, to complete the final two years of departing GOP Senator Jim DeMint's term. It's possible Scott will keep his seat with a majority of blacks voting against him, since SC is about sixty-six percent white. And Sanneh suggests that should cause both parties to ask some tough questions.
"Shouldn't Scott's appointment be cause for celebration among liberals, even if he doesn't share their political agenda? And if Republicans want to break racial barriers, then shouldn't Scott's appointment remind them how far they have to go? If it makes sense for Republicans to be proud to have a black senator in their party, then wouldn't it also make sense for them to be bothered by the relative absence of black voters?"
Via The New Yorker.