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By Robert Scott
That question was the attention-grabbing lead of an OpEd article in the Washington Postlast Friday. Many conservatives likely read that headline and said, “There goes the Washington Postagain, exposing their liberal bias.” Who would write an article with a title like that? None other than our junior Senator, Tim Scott (R-SC). And then he answered the question.
The answer, Sen. Scott said, is because of his own and his Republican colleagues’ too-frequent silence in response to those few in their number who say racist things not just in private, but in public. The public speech that Sen. Scott chose to respond to was not particularly important. The offending words were spoken during a press interview with the New York Times by a Republican congressman – Rep. Steve King, of Iowa. Rep. King said he did not understand why it was a bad thing to be called a “white nationalist” or “white supremacist.” Sen. Scott’s point was not to deny that people with such views exist within the Republican Party – just as people who truly favor “open borders” exist within the Democratic Party – but that their party comrades are naturally painted with that same brush when they fail to respond. Even though such people are a small minority within their respective parties – Republicans who see nothing wrong with “white supremacy,” Democrats who go well beyond opposing a 2000-mile wall at our southern border and advocate truly “open borders” – it is incumbent on others in the same party to denounce those views. Neither belief reflects the centrist core of their party.
Fortunately, such denunciations do occur. Sen. Scott and following him as diverse a group as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and our senior Senator, Lindsey Graham, have now criticized that advocacy of White Supremacy. Mainstream Democrats from Elizabeth Warren to Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi have criticized those on the fringe who advocate in favor of “open borders.” Neither of those causes reflects the mainstream of their party. Democrats who characterize all Republicans as being racist and Republicans who characterize all Democrats as favoring open borders know that, but they also know that such characterizations energize those who, like themselves, inhabit the fringes within their own party.
The extremes of both parties make the news for the same reason that “man bites dog” stories make the news: they are a newsworthy departure from the norm. Republicans advocating merit while opposing racism and Democrats advocating “welcoming the stranger” while opposing open borders are not seen nearly as often as their numbers would suggest. It is good to see Tim Scott publicly opposing racism and Nancy Pelosi publicly opposing open borders. Reinforcing mainstream thought by politicians from both parties indicates that there is hope, after all, for a return to governance by those in the center of our political debate. Even in politics, reason prevails in the long run. As 2019 opens with damaging political theater being played out all around us, let us hope that it prevails sooner rather than later.