World’s 50 Greatest Leaders

Over the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, some GOP politicians became alarmingly comfortable expressing support for white supremacists (and vice versa). Nonetheless, Trump won a greater share of the Black and Latinx vote in 2020 than he did in 2016. Tim Scott, the GOP’s lone Black senator, helps explain why: He’s an avid and effective spokesperson for the small-government, self-reliance-driven conservatism that has helped the Republican Party make inroads among some voters of color.

Since Joe Biden’s election, Scott, a former financial adviser and the owner of an insurance agency, has been a voice for compromise and for smaller “commonsense” stimulus efforts that minimize the role of government spending in fostering the recovery. Rebutting Biden’s address to Congress in April, Scott pointed out that pre-COVID, the nation’s lowest-income workers were finally seeing wages rise, without the kind of state intervention envisioned in the President’s policy goals. “The beauty of the American dream,” he said, “is that families get to define it for themselves.” Scott has also taken the lead in attempting to broker a compromise on the racially charged issue of police reform. Law enforcement experts view Scott’s Justice Act, which would fund wider use of body cameras and greater training for law officers on de-escalation of force, as a likely jumping-off point for any reform bill that could pass in a closely divided Congress.