ICYMI: Senator Scott Discusses His Childhood, Vision for America, and More on PBS’s ‘Firing Line’

WASHINGTON – This weekend, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) joined PBS’s “Firing Line” with Margaret Hoover to discuss growing up in poverty and how his experiences shaped his positions on education, police reform, and more.


Click to watch the full interview

Excerpts from the interview:

On Education Curricula … “In education, we should never teach people that any form of discrimination is okay. It’s kind of that simple. And as a kid who went to public high schools and who understands the challenges of race in America intimately and personally, I can tell you that I benefitted from not having [a] curriculum designed around racial outcomes or ‘oppressed versus oppressors.’ …

“Here’s what I think. Number one, we’ve made more progress in the last 50 years than we did in the first 190. Number two, we still have a ways to go. Both can be true because both are true. And if we were to celebrate the progress — at the same time looking for ways to address the problems — I think most Americans would lean into that position. But what we don’t want is to have our kids indoctrinated on any topic. We want to teach our kids how to think, not what to think, and that’s what’s missing.”

On Progress in America … “My grandfather, born in 1921 in South Carolina, experienced a very different South Carolina [than I did]. He had to get off the sidewalk when a white person was coming; he couldn’t look you in the eye. My mother was born in 1944, during a time where all the water fountains were ‘colored’ or ‘white.’ But by the time I am in high school, where we had [racial] tension, you also had people sitting together and hanging out. Fast forward to my nephew, who has just graduated … when I brought all of his friends to lunch after graduation, it looked like the United Nations. I can’t look at that and say, ‘Boy, we’re going backwards.’ It’s absolutely not true. We are going forward by leaps.”

On Police Reform … “Truth be told, I don’t know why [the Democrats] keep walking away from such an important table. … I’m here for the long haul. I think this is something we have to get done. Let me give you some good news, though, on this topic. There were four or five areas that we all agreed on. … Is something better than nothing? The answer is absolutely it is. But … what they wanted was essentially federalizing local law enforcement and still fighting over the funding that departments would be eligible for. Those [are two issues that] I hope we can find paths around. I’m not going to reduce funding, and I’m not going to federalize local law enforcement.”

On Opportunity Zones … “[Opportunity Zones attract] the private sector, when they make a profit, to come back to marginalized communities that are disproportionately majority-minority and invest money long-term. What I do not want, what I did not want, and what I will not ever want is for people to come into a community, make a profit off the community, and run away with their money. I wanted them to plant roots for five, seven, 10 years. And frankly, $75 billion in just three years has been committed to Opportunity Zones, where on-average, we’ve seen property values go up double-digits, which means that we’re closing the wealth gap because the gentrification rate is under 5 percent in those zones, meaning that the people who are there are benefitting from what’s happening in their backyards.”

On Making it Easier to Vote and Harder to Cheat … “I think, if you look at the Georgia law, this is a classic example of something that’s actually making it easier to vote. Most of the people who have demonized the law didn’t really read the law, so they’re going on headlines, [which are] not always the most accurate. Before the pandemic, it was illegal to have a drop box where you could drop your votes off. In the Georgia law, it codifies and makes it legal to have drop boxes. There’s a big debate over early voting, and I think it’s a worthy debate. In Georgia, there are more early voting days than in blue states throughout the country. …

“The federal law, H.R. 1, which is the way that the Democrats want to take it, says tax dollars should go into my personal campaign account. That’s wrong! Why would we compel Democrats to put money into a Republican campaign account, or Republicans into a Democrat’s campaign account? Number two, we should not make ballot harvesting legal. We shouldn’t allow for one person to pick up hundreds — if not thousands — of ballots and decide which ones they turn in [and] which ones they don’t turn in. That’s the kind of stuff that we don’t need.”