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Michael Zimmer: Optimistic tone strikes a chord

Have many of your friends and family completely tuned out of consuming news? So much of the news today is on the depressing side. I'm sure it has always been that way. The old adage is if it bleeds, it leads.

Earlier this week I came upon a guest column in Charleston, South Carolina's Post and Courier that got my attention as a feel-good story. That's not a paper I read, but one of the national figures I follow on social media is Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, who wrote the column in question.

The piece combines elements of his family story with concerns about our current state affairs relating to our economy, education and the overall outlook for opportunities in our nation.

Scott begins his piece relating how his grandfather used to hold the daily newspaper at the breakfast table so as to impress on his grandchildren the importance of education - this in spite of the fact he could not read.

Due to family needs, the senator's grandfather was forced to leave a segregated school in the third grade to work in a cotton field. He's now 93 years old, and he's lived to see his grandson become a U.S. Senator and his great-grandson graduate from Georgia Tech and start graduate school at Duke.

What a powerful testimony of the possibility and promise of the American Dream. Scott related that he'd spent time recently riding public transportation through Charleston. He shared the obvious observation that people are hurting.

Scott noted that folks want to work and get ahead. They want a better life for their children and grandchildren. "They want to believe the greatest of all America's promises: that life will be better for those who come after me if I do right."

The senator posed several questions for elected officials: "Are we part of the solution or part of the problem? Are we an ally in this struggle to get ahead, or do we unwittingly make it more difficult? Are we trying the same tactics with the same results?"

Intentions from President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty may have been noble, but periodically we need to examine the results of various programs. Scott reminds us of key statistics, such as the 11.2 percent poverty rate in 1974. The current rate is 15 percent. The rate has grown since 2008.

Scott ends the column with various policy solutions he has proposed. The details are somewhat short, as we might expect from a column of this nature, but I liked what I read.

He has suggested tax reform that would increase economic freedom. He also favors expanding school choice so more children have the chance for quality education.

Scott expressed aspirational goals of helping juvenile offenders and those aging out of foster care situations in obtaining educational opportunities needed to break them out of cycles of poverty.

I'm guessing the junior senator from South Carolina will be a highly sought-after campaigner for the GOP in the coming months and years. Generally speaking, merely being against something hardly seems like an inspiring message.

It seems to me that too many national figures in the Republican Party have a mindset that all that is required for electoral gains in the mid-term November election is to remind folks that the Affordable Care Act passed with zero Republican votes. That may well be a part of a winning message in swing states and districts, but I imagine most folks are hankering for the kind of hopeful, optimistic tone observed in Scott's rhetoric.

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