President Biden addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time since taking office Wednesday night. But it was not his words that caught the attention of social media the following morning.
It is the words of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott that still rings in the ears and hearts of all who listened.
His rebuttal to President Biden's address highlighted not just the division that has ravaged the nation for much of the last year, not just the trials Americans have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic nor the liberal swing our government has taken.
He spoke of hope.
He spoke of how Americans can band together in unity, finding common ground through common sense. He spoke of the feeling that "our nation is sliding off its shared foundation," but also "how we move forward together."
Scott shared intimate details of his adolescent life, recalling how even through moving in with his grandparents because of his parents' divorce and nearly failing school, he was blessed. Regardless of the trials he endured, he had access to "a string of opportunities that are only possible here in America."
He continued, "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."
He spoke of all the ways in which the GOP sought unity but to no avail. His impassioned words juxtaposed the promises the current administration made before taking office and the stark reality of the unfulfilled claims that Americans have yet to see come to fruition. "This is not common ground," he said.
"The president is also abandoning principles he held for decades. Now, he says your tax dollars should fund abortions. He's laying groundwork to pack the Supreme Court," Scott continued. "This is not common ground."
On racial reconciliation, Scott said he extended an olive branch: "I offered 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. But I'm still working. I'm hopeful that this will be different."
If the American Dream is still a reality, Scott asks, "So why do we feel so divided, 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.
"Our best future won't come from Washington schemes or socialist dreams. It will come from you, the American people. Black, Hispanic, white and Asian. Republican and Democrat. Brave police officers and Black neighborhoods. We are not adversaries. We are family. We are all in this together."
Speaking on the hot-button topic that America is inherently a racist nation and has no hope to heal, Scott vehemently disagreed. "Original sin is never the end of the story. Not in our souls, and not for our nation. The real story is always redemption," he said.
He concluded, "I am standing here because my mom has prayed me through some really 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."
Before leaving the floor, Scott prayed the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26, also lyrics of popular worship song, "The Blessing":
"May the Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May His presence go before you, and behind you and beside you. In your weeping and rejoicing, He is for you. May His favor be upon our nation for a thousand generations, and your family and your children and their children."
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