Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina (finally) announced his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Monday.
Scott’s interest in running for president has been a topic of speculation ever since he vowed, in 2019, that 2022 would be his last Senate race and said he wouldn’t run for governor of South Carolina. This is Washington we’re talking about, so the idea of a senator willfully fading into obscurity — particularly, this senator, who has never seen a camera he didn’t like — seemed highly unlikely.
The senator’s political profile is simple. His role in the Republican Party — as the GOP’s only Black senator — is a role commonly played by Black members of today’s conservative movement: He’s largely used to rebut and downplay allegations of bigotry lobbed at Republicans over their agenda, replete with anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and anti-woman rhetoric. You could read many of my previous posts about Black men tapped to run in the Republican Party — from failed Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker to North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron — and they’ll serve as a perfect primer for what you ought to expect from Scott’s campaign.
He’s known for political minstrelsy: embarrassing public acts meant to amuse white bigots and ameliorate their policies in the public eye.
Scott has given us many examples of this in the past, but the most perfect one — a video — is rather difficult to come across these days. And that’s because Republicans appear to have tried to scrub it from the internet to the best of their ability. And for good reason.
Back in 2017, as Republicans controlled the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, they trotted out Scott to try to sell Americans on their regressive tax plan that immensely favored rich people. Someone seems to have had the brilliant idea for Scott to appear in a promotional video for Senate Republicans — and for him to deploy a catchy hashtag to misleadingly tout the tax plan as beneficial to nonwealthy Americans.
What did they come up with?
Yes, the only Black senator in the GOP rolled out this phrase, which was widely interpreted as a gross effort to appeal to Black people by using Ebonics. Republicans were ultimately able to force the tax bill through, but not before Scott and Republicans were roundly mocked for this crass effort at Black outreach.
These days, finding the original video is not easy: Senate Republicans deleted the embedded video from the tweet amid the criticism, and it doesn’t appear to be on any official GOP websites. But the image will last forever:
Fortunately, though, you can still check out this “Desus & Mero” segment, in which the hosts clown about Scott as the video plays.
You can also watch this other video of Scott awkwardly reciting the #KeepYoMoney line — flanked by a bunch of old, white lawmakers, who clearly get a kick out of hearing him deliver it.
The cringe is strong with this one.
For me, #KeepYoMoney epitomizes the new presidential candidate. Seriously, I hardly refer to him as Tim Scott in conversation anymore. To me, he’ll always be Senator #KeepYoMoney of South Carolina.
Scott and the phrase are a lot alike: unserious, deceitful and deployed in service of the white conservative establishment.