Portrait of Tim Scott

Op-Ed by Tim Scott: Liberal Control Has Failed Urban America

November 03, 2023


Last week, I toured the South Side of Chicago with Pastor Corey Brooks, a maverick man of God and community activist, and borrowed his pulpit.

I brought a message of love and concern for Chicago and cities nationwide: The progressive monopoly in urban politics, policy, and culture has been a devastating failure for our cities — and the African-American community in particular.

Cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco have settled virtually every policy question in the liberal direction. They have given progressivism the keys to the kingdom.

They have strict gun control laws, high taxes, expansive social programs, soaring funding for union-dominated K-12 school systems, and leaders who jumped on the anti-police bandwagon in 2020 and 2021.

How's it going?

In Chicago, even after years of a hot job market, black unemployment is stuck above 10%. Fewer than 17% of minority kids can read at grade level. And four of every five African-American kids are born to a mom and dad who aren't married.

In Baltimore, where government schools are getting record funding, 13 high schools had zero students proficient in math. In New York City, tax dollars are putting illegal immigrants up in hotels while American citizens are crushed by housing inflation. In Philadelphia, a radical district attorney is undermining the rule of law and getting innocent people hurt.

The parts of America where the radical left has virtual monopoly power are utterly failing the very communities that liberals claim they want to help.

During last month's presidential debate, I pointed out a plain fact that is politically incorrect: While the evil of slavery was the worst chapter in American history, the institution of the black family survived it.

As recently as the 1960s, more than 70% of black kids grew up with two parents in the household. But then, in the name of helping low-income people, liberals dumped money into welfare programs that often required fathers to exit the household for checks to arrive in the mail. What's more, in the name of empathy and inclusion, liberals have led a cultural shift away from emphasizing the intact two-parent family.

Now, 60 years later, that statistic about the black family is upside down: More than 70% of African-American kids do not have both parents at home.

The black family survived slavery. The black middle class survived Jim Crow. The black church survived segregation.

The modern welfare state, the creep of socialism, and a victimhood culture that rejects individual responsibility and excuses drugs, crime, and riots have hollowed out neighborhoods.

Observing these simple truths earned me another round of personal attacks, including a racial slur from a sitting House Democrat who is black himself.

They will never intimidate me. I've heard it all.

If the far left truly cared about black and brown America, they would apologize and change direction. Instead, top Democrats feel entitled to play the race card for their own benefit. To distract from the devastation they've helped cause, they seize any opportunity to inflame and divide America on racial lines.

When Republicans in states like Georgia passed commonsense voting laws, President Biden called it "Jim Crow 2.0" and compared Republican senators like me to Bull Connor.

A few months ago, before Hamas slaughtered dozens of Americans in Israel, he claimed our most dangerous terrorist threat was white supremacy.

When he was last up for reelection in 2012, then-Vice President Biden told a black audience that Republicans would "put y'all back in chains."

This embarrassing rhetoric dishonors our true history. These painful parts of America's past are not Joe Biden's to invoke whenever he's losing an argument.

It's not just the president. The teachers union head Randi Weingarten recently said that people who support school choice and parents' rights are today's segregationists. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says even talking about an illegal immigration "surge" is white supremacy. Vice President Kamala Harris raised bail money for rioters who burned and devastated black and brown neighborhoods.

Worst of all, today's progressives steal hope and keep people down with a false gospel of racial pessimism. To protect their monopoly, they are getting communities hooked on the drug of victimhood and the narcotic of despair. Because, if we live in a systemically racist country, then the problems you see can't be Democrats' fault. Just sit down, shut up, stay mad, and vote blue.

I'm a conservative Republican. I know that all Americans, including minorities, benefit from school choice, thriving capitalism, and safer streets. But a national revival of individual responsibility will achieve more than policy fixes ever could. We have to climb out of the cultural quicksand.

America's teenagers don't need to hear moral relativism or victimhood propaganda. They need the respect and tough love that comes with expectations. They need to know basic facts — like that people who finish high school, get a job, get married, and have kids, in that order, cut their odds of living in poverty by 97%.

Freedom is impossible without responsibility. It's the price of American citizenship.

If you're able-bodied, you go to work.

If you commit a violent crime, you don't get to blame the police. You go to jail.

If you fail a class, don't blame things that happened a century before you were born. Study harder.

If you father a baby, congratulations — you now have the privilege of raising that child.

The radical left, the same people who see systemic racism and microaggressions around every corner, are the closest thing to the segregationists we have today.

The opponents of school choice are the ones standing in the schoolhouse door, making kids' futures a function of their race and class. Progressives would rather see a vacant lot in a black neighborhood turn into a Planned Parenthood clinic than a non-union school.

Their open borders are diverting resources from American citizens who are suffering. And their soft-on-crime policies and rhetoric are costing black and brown lives.

The progressive monopoly has left inner cities more despairing and America more divided. We need to replace grievance with greatness. We need to replace a culture of victimhood with a culture of aspiration and empowerment.

And most of all, we need a national revival of individual responsibility and accountability. Let's start it in the Oval Office.

Tim Scott, Op-Ed by Tim Scott: Liberal Control Has Failed Urban America Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/367669

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