On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., made his maiden speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate to share his personal story and his vision for America. Scott said the following:
My story begins with my mom.
My mom had a very difficult life. She grew up with a verbally abusive, alcoholic father. She married a physically abusive, alcoholic husband who she divorced when I was born. At that time, divorce was frowned upon.
My birth father never gave my mom, my older brother or me, a dime. I never met him.
My mom eventually married the man who became my adopted father: a bus driver who made all four combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne in World War II. This summer, I went to the D-Day anniversary in Normandy and looked at the area he parachuted into, where 17 percent of his company died.
He was a loving father. But, with only a sixth-grade education and five children, he struggled to support our family. We had no money and lived in public housing.
But even with all those issues, I cannot think of a better childhood.
Even with no money, my mom was always optimistic and hopeful. She told us we were blessed because God and our founders created the greatest country ever, where anything was possible.
I’m not sure my mom ever really had a plan for us, but she certainly knew what she was doing.
We sat through many sermons and church was not optional.
We were told that we had to make straight A’s.
We memorized the first part of the Declaration of Independence and the 23rd Psalm.
We became Eagle Scouts, cleaned the house, and had to have a job.
I started working at seven years-old and haven’t stopped since.
We weren’t allowed to complain. Debt, big government, socialism, and communism were bad. College was for a better paying job.
We were constantly lectured about the dangers of drug use. Unfortunately, drugs have destroyed the life of one of my family members.
I enlisted in the Navy at 18, where I swabbed the decks, cleaned the latrines, served the mess decks, and took college courses aboard a destroyer during the last years of Vietnam, but never close to Vietnam.
I married my high school sweetheart at 19 and today, Ann and I have two daughters, six “perfect” grandsons, and a seventh “perfect” grandchild on the way next year.
My wonderful wife Ann is here today, and has been by my side every step of our journey.
While I didn’t always appreciate my tough-love, my-way-or-the-highway mom growing up, I now thank God every day for my mom and this country. She gave me the opportunity to experience every lesson this country had to offer before I was 20.
Unfortunately, the left has worked hard over the last fifty years to discredit the values of the America I was raised with – the values of the America I want my grandsons to grow up with.
We all acknowledge that Americans, our country and our institutions have flaws, but the left has worked to discredit our founders, our institutions, our churches, our law enforcement, our morals, and almost everything my mom taught me.
It’s been happening for a long time:
The left railed against our soldiers during the Vietnam War.
They call those still believing in a supreme being or the commitment of marriage uninformed and old fashioned.
They’re now openly saying that churches that hold traditional values should lose their tax-exempt status.
The left doesn’t care about our enormous debt, pushes for socialism, and criticizes the Boy Scouts.
The left thinks it’s ok that our schools don’t teach about the founding fathers or free markets.
They want you to think America was never great.
And to a degree, the pressure from the left is working:
Americans under 30 are less interested in joining the military.
Church attendance is at an all-time-low, participation in the Boy Scouts, even after allowing girls in, has shrunk, and many are choosing not to have families.
And socialism, the single most discredited idea of the last century, an idea that led millions into poverty and tyranny around the globe, has gained a foothold in one of our two political parties.
I spent most of my life in business. The values that my tough-love mom instilled in me helped me achieve the success she expected – not just hoped for, but expected – for me.
I was able to live the American Dream because I worked hard. I lived out the values my mom taught me in my business career – hard work and fiscal responsibility, but with a caring spirit to support those around me.
I built a health care company that had lower costs and better quality of care than my competitors. We had the highest patient satisfaction surveys in the industry.
I built and bought businesses for most of my life that helped hundreds of thousands of people get good, high-paying jobs. Many of them were failing businesses that we had to turn around to save jobs.
My experience growing up in a family that struggled to get good jobs influenced everything I’ve done in my life.
It’s not easy, and it shouldn’t be. But everyone – every single American – should have that opportunity to struggle, work hard, and overcome the obstacles.
I took those same values to the governor’s office when I got elected in 2010. Florida had been struggling. 832,000 jobs lost in the four years before I took office. Home prices cut in half. Debt was soaring. The state raised taxes on its poorest citizens by more than $2 billion to fill a budget hole.
I always think about my mom. I think about how it impacted her when food prices went up, taxes went up, when my brother got sick without health insurance, and when my dad was laid off.
I became the jobs governor. It wasn’t a political talking point, it was about real people.
I traveled around the state highlighting new businesses that opened in Florida, even small businesses.
I remember a local legislator asking me once why I wasted my time going to a small town in Florida to highlight a new business opening with 30 new jobs. My response was that my dad struggled to find a job, and that’s 30 families that have the opportunity to live the American Dream – and what could be more important?
In eight years, Florida added 1.7 million new jobs, we paid down almost one-third of state debt and invested record funding in education, the environment, and transportation.
But I also tried to fight for the values that are being lost in this country – I fight to protect life, to support the institution of the family, to lift up our military members, veterans and law enforcement, to promote capitalism and to defend the rule of law and the constitution.
These values are under attack from the left, and have been for quite some time.
There’s no easy solution to that problem, but one thing is clear: government is not the solution. Washington is not the solution.
In my short time in the U.S. Senate, I’ve promoted policies that I believe support the idea of an America where anything is possible.
We need lower taxes and less regulation. We need a secure border and a sane immigration policy. We need to get health care costs under control. We need to defend freedom and liberty around the world.
But none of this will matter unless we see hearts and minds change. We need a renewal in America of the values that made this country great.
That won’t happen on the floor of the U.S. Senate. It will happen in living rooms, and classrooms, and churches, synagogues, and board rooms.
We need to remember that hard work is a feature, not a bug, of this American experiment. That the family unit is at the center of our society – and the breakdown of the family has been hugely detrimental.
We need to remember that capitalism is the greatest force for economic good in the history of the world and socialism belongs on the ash-heap of history.
We need to remember these things because our freedoms and the country we love can be lost. The values that made America great can go away, and there are those among us who want them to go away.
This challenge is much bigger than politics. And the solution is not political.
It requires us – every one of us – to stand up and fight. To say without reservation or fear that we will not give up on America or the plans of our founders. We will not stop fighting for our future.
If we want America to be great in the future, we must reject the politically correct attempts to rewrite our history, and we must reject the leftwing attempt to slander the greatness of our ideals.
America is in fact the greatest country in the history of the world, and we should not be embarrassed to say so – we should proclaim it proudly.
America is the greatest country in the history of the world.
I fear that the values that I grew up with – the ones my tough-love mom taught me – are becoming a way of the past. But, I believe these values – these virtues – can and should be part of our country’s future.
I love it when my grandkids pray before eating, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, ask to visit military museums, join the Boy Scouts, thank police officers and soldiers for their service, and place their hand over their heart when they hear the National Anthem.
I hope they memorize the Declaration of Independence and the 23rd Psalm, become Eagle Scouts, have crummy paying teenage jobs with unreasonable bosses, and get benched in sports for not trying hard enough.
I also pray they consider a life of military service – one already wants to be a paratrooper – and are lucky enough to marry a wonderful person and have enough kids to worry about how to pay for college.
Maybe my grandkids will complain about parents being way too strict.
Maybe they will complain about demanding teachers and bosses not caring what they think.
Maybe they will complain about screaming drill sergeants, difficult degrees, restrictive banks, and life not being fair.
If so, I will smile and say, “That’s great, America is back.”
Then, I will know my grandsons have the opportunity to do something worthwhile with their lives – like build a loving family, successful career, thriving community, better country, and better world.
In the meantime, I’ll keep fighting.
I ran for public office to fight for the country I was raised in because that is the country our children and grandchildren deserve.
They deserve what my mom gave me – a free country with unlimited potential for every citizen.
I hope everyone will join me in this fight.