For Mr. Scott, the true test will come in 2014, when he will have to run to complete the final two years of Mr. DeMint’s term. (If Mr. Scott wins, he’d have to run again, in 2016, for a full six-year term.) As Mr. Obama has shown, the question is not whether whites are willing to vote for a black candidate, but whether black candidates can put together winning coalitions (no matter their racial makeup) and around what policies. I suspect black South Carolinians will not be drawn to Mr. Scott.
The trope of the black conservative has retained a man-bites-dog newsworthiness that is long past its shelf life. Clichés about fallen barriers are increasingly meaningless; symbols don’t make for coherent policies. Republicans will not gain significant black support unless they take policy positions that advance black interests. No number of Tim Scotts — or other cynical tokens — will change that.Tim Scott represents conservative values with sincerity. The only symbolism he presents is one that shows those values do not depend on the color of your skin. This op-ed writer demonstrates that color trumps the message, and that is something that only people like Tim Scott can change.