SEAT: Optimism is infectious, especially in politics

March 11, 2017

Nearly three years ago, while promoting my book across Indiana, I had the pleasure of moderating a forum on national issues with then-U.S. Rep. Todd Young and Eric Holcomb, who was then state chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Dan Coats. I recall our conversation that night touching on a number of weighty and important issues, including spending, taxes, Russia and immigration. Likely the same topics we would address if the event were held today.

But even while dwelling on those seemingly insurmountable obstacles, both Young, who went on to replace Coats in the Senate, and Holcomb, who now serves as our state’s governor, were optimistic about the years ahead. And the optimism they both displayed that night, and that they’ve consistently exhibited throughout their time in public service, is infectious. Heck, it’s still on my mind three years later.

In fact, I remember in Young’s closing statement, specifically, how he highlighted many reasons Americans should remain hopeful about the future. Yes, there were (and continue to be) plenty of political headwinds we must endure, and sometimes tailwinds to ride, but what prevails is our spirit, drive and determination to build a better tomorrow. That’s a message full of optimism.

Young also spoke optimistically about the number of young people entering and already in the workforce compared to our economic competitors. He mentioned the energy resources we have right here in America that remain undeveloped. He noted the many ideas being offered by Republicans in Congress to control spending, reform our tax code, address poverty, and reclaim our standing on the international stage. 

It was a message that left the audience (and me) with a feeling that things could—and would—get better nationally. We just needed to keep focused on getting the job done in Washington, D.C., just as we have done here in Indiana.

For Holcomb’s part, his optimism was rooted in just that: Indiana’s many taxpayer-focused successes. At the time, we profited from a AAA credit rating, honestly balanced budgets, and fiscal restraint and responsibility. None of that has changed. In fact, U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Indiana as the top state in the nation for government administration. It’s a remarkable accomplishment and worthy of an optimistic outlook for continued success in the future. 

Holcomb’s optimism continues as he tackles the many challenges facing him as governor. From infrastructure funding to our statewide drug epidemic, he looks at these problems not with a defeated scowl, but with a hopeful smile that tomorrow will be a better day. 

Typically, something that’s infectious would be bad. But in this case, it’s refreshing. The fact that I can so vividly remember that evening and the infectious optimism of Young and Holcomb three years later speaks directly to why they found themselves promoted to new positions this past November. Their optimism infected a citizenry seeking solutions, and their optimism is how we will solve these many issues. I hope many others catch the bug themselves.•

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