[Read: The social-distancing culture war has begun]
Green: I think your record shows that you’re a classic Republican in one sense: You believe in promoting small business and creating opportunities through the private sector. But in your book, you also criticize people who would rather wage a culture war that pits racial and economic classes against each other than make things happen.
I wonder if you feel like the Republican Party has moved away from that party where you used to feel at home, where you could get things done as a legislator rather than pitting people against each other.
Scott: It almost sounds like you’re asking me if the Republican Party is pitting people against each other. Is that your question?
Green: I think there’s a case to be made that both Democrats and Republicans engage in that. But certainly you could point to some of President Trump’s tweets and other campaign rhetoric that absolutely tries to pit groups against one another.
Scott: I’m not sure if you paid attention to the Hillary Clinton campaign for president in 2016, where she spoke about the “deplorables.” I don’t know that I would suggest that either party intentionally looks for ways to divide our country into racial groups. If we are, then I would say that the [Democratic] Party has focused on tribalism, trying to divide the pie based on who you are, what you look like, far more than the Republican Party has.
Our nation is blessed with really good leadership on both sides at times. But I think the philosophy of what leads to a better America is the Republican philosophy. We’re not perfect and I don’t think we ever will be, but I do think we hold out the best hope—especially for the folks who are at the bottom of the food chain economically—more than the other side. The Democrats, who may be well intentioned, have a basis in socialism, which is unhelpful for people at the bottom. Socialism aggregates decisions and money to the top. That hasn’t worked in any place on Earth so far. The best shot, without any question, is a system where you, the individual, have the greatest impact on your life.
Our country has been struggling and striving in the right direction to make the playing field as fair and as equal as possible, and we still have progress that needs to be made. And I’m going to continue to fight for it. I’m going to work with folks who are looking for ways to make progress, no matter what Republican/Democrat label they wear or don’t wear. I think if we all do that, we’ll be better off.
Green: Do you think there’s an opportunity to create unity in America in the wake of the pandemic?
Scott: Oh, yeah. I think America sees her best days after a crisis. The aftermath mentality—when Americans bind themselves to other people no matter what they look like, no matter where they’re from, no matter what they believe—and they fight together, not against each other: that is the most amazing and beautiful picture of what’s possible in this nation.
What I offered in the book is this: If you want to see us at our best, it’s the aftermath mentality. The question is: Can we live the aftermath mentality without having to go through a crisis? That is quite a conundrum.