It was a floor speech for the ages. But someday, when history looks back on Senator Tim Scott's (R-S.C.) emotional words, the greatest tragedy will be that he had to deliver them at all. Like a lot of Americans, Tim assumed the other side of the aisle was serious about having a conversation on police reform. And, like a lot of Americans, he assumed wrong. Turns out, Democrats aren't here to fix our problems. In this crisis, they are the problem.
When Senator Scott came to his chamber with this plan, he was coming as a man who'd lived the discrimination people talk about. He understands what it's like to be followed around stores because he's black, or to be questioned by the Capitol police about "where he got that Senate pin." Lives like his, Democrats say, should matter. But his pain and his experiences, apparently, do not. Liberals walked away from the table, turning their backs on the best shot at rebuilding Americans' trust.
It wasn't that his bill didn't leave room for compromise. It did. Republicans were so determined to make this a bipartisan effort that they agreed to allow as many amendments as Democrats wanted (a far cry from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's, D-Calif., debate, where the GOP was given none). "If you don't like what you see, make it better," Tim urged. "Don't walk away." But the problem, the senator said later, "is not what's being offered. It's who is offering it" -- a black man in a party that liberals will not tolerate reaching out to African Americans.
Despite all the work Republicans have put into criminal justice reform, opportunity zones, and job creation, Senate Democrats still can't stand the idea of the Republican Party making a positive difference for the black community. At the end of the day, liberals in Congress will always care more about keeping their grip on the minority vote and winning elections than healing the divides in our nation. If that weren't true, Senator Scott argued, Democrats would be flying home this month with 70 percent of what they asked for on this bill -- not zero. And African Americans wouldn't be wondering why Congress is playing politics when people are dying in the streets.
"Communities of color, young Americans of all colors, are losing faith in the institutions of authority and power in this nation, because we're playing small ball. We're playing for those in the insulated chambers. We're playing for presidential politics. Playing the big boys' game," Scott said, "is playing for the kids who can't represent themselves." Not hiding behind empty slogans and African scarves.
And at the end of the day, what are these minorities getting for their loyalty to the Democratic Party anyway? "Black men and women are being slaughtered in cities and communities of color around the country in numbers that can only be compared to war zones in Iraq and Syria," FRC's Ken Blackwell argues. "And every single one of those cities have been run by liberals, and in most cases, by Democrats. We have to begin to deal with this." And by "dealing with this," we can't just run to this excuse that America is irreparably racist. "The fact of the matter is that in 242 years, we've gone from the institution of slavery to -- whether you liked it or agreed with him or not -- to electing a black man president of the United States." Are there still incidents of racist behavior? Yes. But it's not systemic, Ken insists. "Not every problem in the black community can be attributed to slavery and Jim Crow."
But if you want to guarantee that these problems get worse, he says, go ahead and dismantle the police. Then you'll be throwing "peace-loving, progress-seeking African-American men and women and children to the wolves." The reality is, Ken went on, you can't paint every law enforcement officer with a broad, prejudiced brush. "The facts don't bear that out. But what we've seen borne out by facts is that these local leaders have found some comfort in the status quo. They have embraced a narrative that pushes the blame from their incompetence to the boogey man of systemic racism, which doesn't exist."
Meanwhile, President Trump has done everything he can to stop America from burning to the ground. But as strong and supportive as he's been, he can't manage the policing of our streets from the Oval Office. Proposals like Tim Scott's would have brought more energy, resources, and training to the local level and helped build bridges between the communities and police. But the media and Left "can't give Senator Scott any credit, because this debate spoils their narrative."
So maybe it's time for a new narrative. "E Pluribus Unum," Ken suggested. "From the many, one. It's based on the reality that in 242 years, America is the most diverse, the most prosperous society in all of human history. Are we perfect? No. As Lincoln said, we are not perfect, but we are perfectible." And in times like these, that may be all that matters.