Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) delivered the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address to Congress yesterday, and he did so with dignity, depth, and a touch of elegance. Sen. Scott is reminiscent of the old heads that I grew up under. They didn’t need to dramatize, scream, or shout to get attention or be heard. They spoke with the weight of gravity rimmed with a boundary of hope. It’s the same tone I heard when I listened to my favorite uncle, who is no longer on this earth, and in the voice of my 80-year old aunt, who is still with us and holding strong. It is representative of people who have seen some things, who have had great struggles, but who have come through to a brighter day, and they just want to let you know that you can too.
Sen. Scott started with graciousness to President Biden, but he did not fail to call him to account:
“We just heard President Biden’s first address to Congress. Our President seems like a good man. His speech was full of good words.
“But President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership. He promised to unite a nation. To lower the temperature. To govern for all Americans, no matter how we voted.
“That was the pitch. You just heard it again.
“But our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes. We need policies and progress that bring us closer together. But three months in, the actions of the President and his party are pulling us further apart.”
Between killing solid work for hardworking Americans through his executive orders, infantilizing and playing White Savior to Blacks and Hispanics with divisive and ill-advised policies, and destroying children’s future by giving free rein to the transgender agenda and Critical Race Theory, the Biden administration appears intent on keeping Americans discombobulated and on their heels.
I liked that Sen. Scott didn’t belabor this point, but moved forward to The Point.
“I won’t waste your time tonight with finger-pointing or partisan bickering. You can get that on T.V. any time you want.
“I want to have an honest conversation. About common sense and common ground. About this feeling that our nation is sliding off its shared foundation, and how we move forward together.”
Again that elegance shows itself: “Common sense and common ground” is such an artistic turn of phrase.
“Growing up, I never dreamed I’d be standing here tonight.
“When I was a kid, my parents divorced. My mother, my brother, and I moved in with my grandparents. Three of us, sharing one bedroom.
“I was disillusioned and angry, and I nearly failed out of school. But I was blessed.
“First, with a praying momma. Then with a mentor, a Chick-Fil-A operator named John Moniz. Finally, with a string of opportunities that are only possible here in America.”
I do not care which side of the aisle you are on, or if you’re in the middle, Sen. Scott’s story is aspirational and inspirational. But, it is a story that is still being written, and a story that connects with our story. Sen. Scott moved fluidly in that direction.
“This past year, I’ve watched COVID attack every rung of the ladder that helped me up.
“So many families have lost parents and grandparents too early. So many small businesses have gone under. Becoming a Christian transformed my life — but for months, too many churches were shut down.”
With two sentences, Sen. Scott built a bridge of empathy that transcends, race, sex, or socioeconomics. He wasn’t speaking as a “Black man”; he was speaking as an American.
“Most of all, I am saddened that millions of kids have lost a year of learning when they could not afford to lose a day.
“Locking vulnerable kids out of the classroom is locking adults out of their future.
“Our public schools should have reopened months ago. Other countries’ did. Private and religious schools did. Science has shown for months that schools are safe. But too often, powerful grown-ups set science aside. And kids like me were left behind.
“The clearest case for school choice in our lifetimes.”
Boom. He beautifully dovetailed back to his story and reminded us he wasn’t always a U.S. Senator, and that he’s had many obstacles to overcome. He made the connection that our government is now blocking the path and tripping up those who just need the clear through-line and the momentum to leap over those hurdles.
“Last year, under Republican leadership, we passed five bipartisan COVID packages. Congress supported our hospitals, saved our economy, and funded Operation Warp Speed, delivering vaccines in record time.
“All five bills got 90 or more votes in the Senate. Common sense found common ground.”
Sen. Scott was cohesive, and brought his words home again, adding greater gravity.
“In February, Republicans told President Biden we wanted to keep working together to win this fight. But Democrats wanted to go it alone.
“They spent almost $2 trillion on a partisan bill that the White House bragged was the most liberal bill in American history! Only 1% went to vaccinations. No requirement to re-open schools promptly.
“COVID brought Congress together five times. This Administration pushed us apart.”
Sen. Scott then addressed the elephant in the room: Biden’s massive infrastructure bill that seeks to destroy the individual freedoms of hard-working Americans while funding Democrat wet dreams and pet projects.
“Another issue that should unite us is infrastructure.
“Republicans support everything you think of when you think of ‘infrastructure.’ Roads, bridges, ports, airports, waterways, high-speed broadband — we’re all in!
“But again, Democrats want a partisan wish list. They won’t even build bridges… to build bridges!”
Another elegant turn of phrase that will go down in the annals.
“Less than 6% of the President’s plan goes to roads and bridges. It’s a liberal wish-list of Big Government waste… plus the biggest job-killing tax hikes in a generation. Experts say, when all is said and done, it would lower Americans’ wages and shrink our economy.”
Biden would guarantee this government waste and shrinking wages by the insertion of the PRO Act in the middle of this bill. The PRO Act is California’s AB5 on steroids (as our Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar also wrote), and just as with the cancellation of the Keystone pipeline, incorporating this Act into the Labor Code would destroy independent professionals and small businesses across the nation. Yet the Democrats insist on adopting it and are allowing the Labor Unions to strong-arm the few Democrat senators who are still withholding their sponsorship.
“Tonight we also heard about a so-called “Family Plan.” Even more taxing, even more spending, to put Washington even more in the middle of your life — from the cradle, to college.
“The beauty of the American Dream is that families get to define it for themselves.
“We should be expanding options and opportunities for all families — not throwing money at certain issues because Democrats think they know best.”
Amen to that. Giving families room to expand and breathe, not taking away their autonomy.
“Infrastructure” spending that shrinks our economy is not common sense.
“Weakening our southern border and creating a crisis is not compassionate.
“The President is abandoning principles he held for decades. Now, he says your tax dollars should fund abortions. He’s laying groundwork to pack the Supreme Court.
“This is not common ground.”
Nor is it common sense.
Finally, Sen. Scott brought forth his superpower. As a Black United States Senator who grew up in the Deep South and experienced racism but has come out on the other side and is still standing strong, he decimates the concept of “systemic racism” like no one else can.
“Nowhere do we need common ground more desperately than in our discussions of race.
“I have experienced the pain of discrimination.
“I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason. To be followed around a store while I’m shopping. I remember, every morning, at the kitchen table, my grandfather would have the newspaper in his hands. Later, I realized he had never learned to read it. He just wanted to set the right example.
“I’ve also experienced a different kind of intolerance.
“I get called “Uncle Tom” and the N-word — by ‘progressives’! By liberals! Just last week, a national newspaper suggested my family’s poverty was actually privilege because a relative owned land generations before my time.
“Believe me, I know our healing is not finished.”
As I often say, there are still “racist systems” that exist; but that is not the same as “systemic racism”. I agree with Sen. Scott, we cannot move along the road toward greater healing if one side is insistent on going backward.
“In 2015, after the shooting of Walter Scott, I wrote a bill to fund body cameras. Last year, after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, I built an even bigger police reform proposal.
“But my Democratic colleagues blocked it.
“I extended an olive branch. I offered them amendments. But Democrats used the filibuster to block the debate from even happening. My friends across the aisle seemed to want the issue more than they wanted a solution.”
Democrats do love moving the political football. Like Lucy with Charlie Brown, they pull it away when the field goal is about to be made. They aren’t interested in Americans winning, they just want Republicans to lose.
And just as elegantly as before, Sen. Scott returns to the hope, the optimism.
“But I’m still working. I’m still hopeful.
“When America comes together, we’ve made tremendous progress. But powerful forces want to pull us apart.”
Sen. Scott went on to cogently outline the poison of Critical Race Theory and the “hate America” agenda:
“A hundred years ago, kids in classrooms were taught the color of their skin was their most important characteristic — and if they looked a certain way, they were inferior.
“Today, kids again are being taught that the color of their skin defines them — and if they look a certain way, they’re an oppressor.
“From colleges to corporations to our culture, people are making money and gaining power by pretending we haven’t made any progress. By doubling down on the divisions we’ve worked so hard to heal.
“You know this stuff is wrong. Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country.
“It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”
With his eloquent voice and elegant manner, Sen. Scott connected this false dichotomy of manufactured discrimination to fake charges that the Georgia voting law is racist.
“The state of Georgia passed a law that expands early voting; preserves no-excuse mail-in voting; and, despite what the President claimed, did not reduce Election Day hours.
“If you actually read this law, it’s mainstream. It will be easier to vote early in Georgia than in Democrat-run New York. But the left doesn’t want you to know that. They want people to virtue-signal by yelling about a law they haven’t even read.
“Fact-checkers have called out the White House for misstatements. The President absurdly claims this is worse than Jim Crow. What is going on here?
“I’ll tell you. A Washington power grab.”
A power grab fully embodied in H.R. 1.
Sen. Scott wrapped it up in a lovely bow with these well-structured words:
“Race is not a political weapon to settle every issue the way one side wants.”
Sen. Scott ended with optimism, pointing out the gains and advantages left to the Biden administration by President Trump through Operation Warp Speed, that because of it, our country is rounding the curve on COVID, and that it should be a point of optimism.
Yet, it’s not.
“So why do we feel so divided and anxious?
“A nation with so much cause for hope should not feel so heavy-laden.
“A President who promised to bring us together should not push agendas that tear us apart.
“The American family deserves better. And we know what better looks like!
After laying down more of the wins and gains that happened in the prior administration, like a good Baptist preacher, Sen. Scott continued that upward trajectory.
“So I am more than hopeful — I am confident — that our finest hour is yet to come.
“Original sin is never the end of the story. Not in our souls, and not for our nation. The real story is always redemption.
“I am standing here because my mom has prayed me through some very tough times.
“I believe our nation has succeeded the same way. Because generations of Americans, in their own ways, have asked for grace — and God has supplied it.”
The full import of Sen. Scott’s rebuttal speech and its powerful ending is here. Well worth listening to more than once. Once we return to a saner world, it should be a speech that is read in every school.
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) April 29, 2021