Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Budd, R-N.C., said he intends to serve in Congress with the spirit of North Carolina’s motto, “Esse Quam Videri” — “To Be Rather Than to Seem” — as he gave his maiden speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“My number one goal during my time in the U.S. Senate is to create a strong nation, full of strong families,” he said. “It’s to be of service to others, to make other people’s lives better. To do just what I said that I was going to do. That’s how I’ve lived throughout my life, and that’s the kind of senator that I want to be.”

The freshman senator thanked his family, staff, senior U.S. senator from North Carolina Thom Tillis, and his predecessor, former U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. He also wants to follow in the footsteps of the late U.S. Sens. Jesse Helms and Jim Broyhill, a family friend.

“His commitment to public service is one that I’m going to try to emulate for as long as I hold this office,” Budd said.

He said North Carolina values, like faith, loyalty to family and friends, being a man of his word, being honest and reliable, working hard, and serving others, are not just another set of policy issues. He said he plans on “walking the walk rather than talking the talk,” like fellow North Carolinians, during his time in Congress.

Budd touched on many issues in his speech, including how America is worth defending and how we should do everything we can to create a strong nation.

He quoted Winston Churchill, who said that “Americans will always do the right thing only after they’ve tried everything else.” Budd said that in the last few years, it seems like, we have tried everything else, including a lot of bad ideas that aren’t working.

“We live in a culture that unfortunately accentuates all the ways each and every one of us is different instead of all the things that we have in common,” Budd said. “And it’s these differences that are used by some to drive us apart, drawing lines based on race or gender or bank accounts.”

He said too many of America’s young people are being indoctrinated with a sense of victimhood and despair instead of being encouraged with vision and hope, resulting in disturbing trends. They include less than 40% saying they’re extremely proud to be an American. Church attendance and a belief in God are at a historic low.

Budd also pointed out the high rates of depression, especially among high school students, and high rates of suicide, or those contemplating it. All of these trends, he said, should serve as a wake-up call to our country.

“We need to teach our kids to love our country, not to hate it,” he said. “To have a spirit of gratitude and not one of disdain.”

He then focused on issues like how cutting energy production and the government’s attempts to dictate consumption habits make life harder for people and stifle our nation’s strength.

A bigger government with endless spending, Budd said, creates economic stagnation and convinces people to just accept financial mediocrity instead inspiring citizens to take risks to fail and to get back up and try again.

“For a better tomorrow, we need to be creating an economy that rewards risk-taking and allows people to be working towards their American dream. But it is government that too often stands in the way of that dream,” he said.

Budd continued by saying it’s politically toxic to consider looking to a government as our economic savior and is not the solution.

“Capitalism, open markets, a free and a moral people, that’s the formula for success,” he said. “Success that our country saw not too long ago and we could surely recreate it if we have the right leadership that lightens the regulatory burden on America’s job creators and the stronger that we are here at home, the more leadership that we can exert on the world stage. And that’s what’s missing today; a strong and a confident America.”

Budd said the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, which tragically saw the loss of 13 service members and the abandonment of countless citizens, “put American weakness on full display.”

“In speaking with allies and international leaders, I heard over and over again that it was the Afghanistan debacle that caused our allies to wonder if they could even count on us anymore,” he stated. “They wonder if when the going gets tough if we’ll be more likely to cut and run than stand by their side as they’ve stood with us. And that undercuts America’s standing in the world.”

Budd also mentioned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s aggressive actions toward Taiwan, their launching of spy crafts over the U.S., China’s buying of critical infrastructure in our country and stealing the intellectual property of U.S. citizens, as well as the actions of Iran and North Korea toward their own people.

The national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border was also an important point of Budd’s speech. He said instead of the Biden administration trying to secure the border, they are retreating from their responsibility to protect and defend our country.

“All this chaos is the result of America being a diminished country, all too willing to cede the stage and to let others lead,” he said. “That’s not the way that the world will find peace and security. Peace is achieved through American strength, and it is American weakness instead that provokes evil.”

Budd said our country must return to the principles of clarity and purpose, a willingness to act when the situation calls for it, and the strength to follow through when we face obstacles.

He wrapped up his speech by stating that the U.S. is still seen as a place where you can start over again, acknowledging that 1 million legal immigrants are welcomed into the U.S. every year.

“We’re still the last best beacon of hope on this planet,” Budd said. “All we have to do is keep it that way. At the end of the day, we must seek to be a nation that empowers every citizen, ensures human flourishing, and preserves freedom for each and every individual to pursue their American dream.”