Washington Examiner
Op-Ed: Sen. Rick Scott
October 28, 2019

My Mom had a very difficult life, due in part to choices she made and in part to factors outside of her control. She grew up with a verbally abusive, alcoholic father. She married a physically abusive, alcoholic husband who she divorced when I was born. My birth father never gave my Mom, my older brother, or me a dime. I never met him.

My Mom eventually remarried the man who became my adopted father: a bus driver who did all four combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne in World War II. He adopted my older brother and me but, with only a sixth-grade education and five children, struggled to support our family. We lived in public housing. But even with all those issues, I cannot think of a better childhood.

Even though my Mom had no money, she was 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 we sat through many church sermons (and church was absolutely not optional), had to make straight As, memorized the Declaration of Independence and the 23rd Psalm, became Eagle Scouts, cleaned the house, delivered newspapers, cut the grass, stocked shelves, pumped gas, and fried hamburgers.

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 (drugs destroyed the life of one family member).

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.

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 50 years to discredit the values of the America I was raised with and 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.

The left railed against our soldiers during the Vietnam War. The left calls those who believe in a supreme being or the commitment of marriage uninformed and anachronistic. 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.

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. 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.

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 grandchildren 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 so lucky as to marry a wonderful person and have enough children to worry about how to pay for college. Maybe my grandsons will complain about parents being way too strict, demanding teachers, bosses not caring what they think, screaming drill sergeants, difficult degrees, jobs hard to find, 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, such as build a loving family, successful career, thriving community, better country, and better world.

In the meantime, let's fight for the country I was raised in because that is the country our children and grandchildren deserve.

Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican, is the junior senator from Florida. He was governor of Florida from 2011-2018.

Issues