The best speech to come out of the first night of the Republican National Convention was given by Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.). It was full of hope, optimism, and American greatness.
After starting my business and spending time in local government, I ran for Congress in 2010. The district is based in Charleston, South Carolina…where the Civil War started…against a son of our legendary senator, Strom Thurmond.You may be asking yourself how does a poor black kid…from a single parent household…run and win a race in a crowded Republican primary against a Thurmond?Because of the evolution of the heart, in an overwhelmingly white district… the voters judged me on the content of my character, not the color of my skin.We live in a world that only wants you to believe in the bad news… racially, economically and culturally-polarizing news.The truth is, our nation’s arc always bends back towards fairness. We are not fully where we want to be…but thank God we are not where we used to be!We are always striving to be better…When we stumble, and we will, we pick ourselves back up and try again.We don’t give into cancel-culture, or the radical — and factually baseless — belief that things are worse today than in the 1860s or the 1960s.We have work to do…but I believe in the goodness of America…the promise that all men, and all women are created equal.And if you’re watching tonight, I’m betting you do, too.
Senator Scott’s best line of the speech came during a story about his grandfather. “Our family went from Cotton to Congress in one lifetime,” he said.
My grandfather’s 99th birthday would have been tomorrow. Growing up, he had to cross the street if a white person was coming. He suffered the indignity of being forced out of school as a third grader to pick cotton, and never learned to read or write.Yet, he lived to see his grandson become the first African American to be elected to both the United States House and Senate.Our family went from Cotton to Congress in one lifetime. And that’s why I believe the next American century can be better than the last.
But the evening belonged to Tim Scott. More than any speech in recent Republican history, his address last night revived and redeployed the spirit of Ronald Reagan, a spirit that has been dormant in the GOP during the Trump era. The politics of doom-mongering and “American carnage,” which dominated most of the evening, gave way during his speech to a story of ebullient optimism. The rhetorical tact of the GOP this election cycle has been to present the opposition as an imminent threat and danger to the American way of life. But Scott presented the Democrats not so much as threatening as simply unappealing. His message was not, “The barbarians are at the gates” but, “Why would we choose the thin gruel the Democrats are offering over the bountiful feast of American freedom that our ancestors toiled to prepare for us?”