Republican Senator preaches optimism for America’s future
For its inaugural Jeanie Poole O’Shaughnessy Memorial Lecture, the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government hosted Republican Senator from South Carolina Tim Scott for a fireside discussion on his recently released memoir America, A Redemption Story: Choosing Hope, Creating Unity with the center’s director, Professor Vincent Phillip Muñoz.
The event occurred the day before Notre Dame would take on Clemson under the lights in Notre Dame Stadium, so the crowd in Carey Auditorium included many South Carolina residents who had made the journey to campus for the football game.
In introducing Senator Scott, Muñoz highlighted how bringing prominent politicians to campus is a necessary way of “introducing the next generation of our citizen leaders to our current generation.” Such events are in alignment with the Center’s mission to equip citizens and civic leaders with the tools “to secure our God-given natural rights, to exercise the responsibilities of self-government, and to pursue the common good.”
Scott’s visit comes amidst rumors of a potential 2024 presidential run. When asked directly by Professor Muñoz about his political ambitions, Senator Scott avoided answering, referring the audience to a chapter of his book “Tim Scott for President” where he discussed running for high school student body president.
The conversation highlighted particularly poignant moments of his memoir, avoiding discussions of partisan politics and instead focusing on the senator’s optimistic view of America’s future.
Senator Scott began by discussing how his difficult childhood influenced his outlook on the world. Growing up sharing a bedroom with his brother and mother in his grandparents’ house, he acknowledged his view of the future was constrained: “I felt like because of poverty and growing up in South Carolina that I had a ceiling over my head.”
Despite his challenges, Senator Scott attributed his positive outlook on the future to his grandfather. Senator Scott remarked how his grandfather, who was born in a divided, segregated South, had ingrained in his mind that “I could get bitter or I could get better; I could become a victim, or I could become victorious, but I could not be on both sides.”
The senator’s comments were defined by his positive outlook in negative situations. Even as Muñoz and students asked about the bevy of problems facing America, Senator Scott strayed from pessimism and remained hopeful, focusing on his efforts to build a forward-looking America.
Highlighting his America 2030 plan designed to “understand what a first grader would see when they’re graduating from high school,” Senator Scott discussed why he believes learning how to sustain the ingredients contributing to human flourishing and the American dream will help solve problems like poor schooling. If legislators could come to recognize that “it’s more important for us to think not about my election cycle,” but about the nation’s future, then many of the nation’s problems could be solved.
Some students were not convinced by Senator Scott’s optimism. During the Q&A, senior Luke Schafer asked, “How do you maintain this sense of optimism in light of the challenges facing people of faith?”
Senator Scott acknowledged that religious Americans are likely to experience discrimination never seen before in the coming years, but he looked to his involvement with and practice of his faith as the source of assuaging his fears. He indicated how “the more time I spend with Him, the more peace I have in my heart … the more I am able to deal with the knuckleheads in the world.”
The senator’s advice to become more immersed in one’s faith fit with his earlier hope for America’s future: “My dream, my hope, and my prayer for this nation is that we come together because we have so much at stake. We are the city on the hill. We are the beacon of light in the midst of a global storm. If we lose our hope, if we lose our purpose, the whole world finds itself in shambles.”
Even though the nation may be in the midst of turmoil, Senator Scott remained optimistic the best days are ahead because if we “understood that we were just one American family, not two, not three, and not tribes, but that we were just one American family that we would start having a different level of respect and appreciation” for the nation and for each other.
John Soza is a sophomore from Los Angeles, California, studying finance with minors in constitutional studies and theology. When he is not analyzing college football statistics, he can be found in Morrissey’s 4th Floor Center Lounge. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Senator Scott’s official website