The Lofty Expectations of the Ohio Statehouse: Senator George Lang is a politician it can be proud of

It was a great treat for me to get a day to visit the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to see a good friend of mine, Senator George Lang. It was good for me to put things in perspective as some of the issues of the hour are intense and changing by the minute. The Ohio Statehouse is a grand vestige dedicated to a republic form of government, and it was built with love and ambition. I think all statehouses try to do the same thing. The Ohio Statehouse is a special place dedicated to intelligence, study, and the difficulties of a republic that spans thousands of years in the past. It’s a place of ambition and hope reflected in the Greek architecture, the various marble ornaments, and symbolic statues. Whenever I go there, I am reminded that much of the hard work that is done in politics, even when it often falls so short of expectations, is worth the effort. Even when people complain about the cesspool of politics and the corrosive elements of lobbyists, I see the work that goes on in places like the Ohio Statehouse as the best that there is in the world. I’ve been to the Parliament in London and other places where the work of politics is done, and I see the purity of the Ohio Statehouse as something special, unique. I am possessive that it exists to do the work all people in Ohio need done. Even if people disagree on what that work is, the place is there to make sure it has a chance to happen. 

Another friend of mine took a picture of me on the House floor, and that’s what I was thinking. I don’t usually get sentimental about those types of things, but I had just had a good meeting with Senator Lang with the door closed. I was very happy to hear what he was working on. But more than that, I saw the same eyes alive and well within him that I have known for many years as he was one of the original members of the West Chester Tea Party. George is still that same person who gives out copies of Atlas Shrugged at Christmas and believes in small government, fiscal responsibility, and a business-first political strategy which is the key to all wealth-building in any culture. George Lang is a good person, a very good person. And as I was thinking about the Ohio Statehouse and all its ambitions, most of the time, we resent politics because we give politicians all these great tools to work with, like the Ohio Statehouse.   Most of the time, the people we send to the congress and senate fall short of our expectations, leading to perpetual disappointment. But George Lang is one of those exceptions. He actually lives up to the lofty expectations. The building seems to have been built specifically for people like him.

I say all those nice things because I had an extended chance to watch him work with other members of the House and Senate. And to interact with Governor DeWine. George is friendly, engaging; he’s a great salesman. But while he is doing all those things, he’s also guarded and measured. He’s a hard nut to crack for a lobbyist because it’s hard to tell where to get a hook into him. What is the vice of George Lang? What makes him tick? Where is he vulnerable? It’s one thing to be sociable and even polite. George has been involved in Columbus politics for many years now. When our schedules match up, I speak to him quite a bit here and there, but he’s a busy guy. So, to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect in his office with the door closed and talking about the business that needs to happen for the state. To talk about the upcoming primaries, his Business First Caucus, politics back home in Butler County, Ohio. But what I found was a person who loves doing a good job, that had not been swept away by any trace of corruption, and the same wide-eyed person I have known since he was a trustee in West Chester. And with all that has been going on, where the world presents us with disappointments at every juncture, especially in politics, that was refreshing. 

In that House chamber and its lofty contents, it was apparent that most of the members went to Columbus with big goals and that they were getting swept away by the ornate atmosphere. Just before that photograph, I had just heard from a politician who wanted me to know how smart he was and that he was reviewing the legal complications of a land purchase for a solar farm, filled with all kinds of rancid ESG requirements that he thought were great. He was a guy who had been chewed up and spit out of the meat grinder, and I could see that the chamber walls were almost ashamed of him. He did not live up to the expectations. But those big stone walls and finely carved woodwork would see many more like him over the years, as they had. But when George was in that room, the actual chamber seemed happy. There was a person worthy of the Statehouse. There was someone who would do the work and, when done, dash off to his wife and grown children at every opportunity. And I think that is the secret to George Lang working there. The Statehouse was built for people like him, who love their country, their state, and their communities, but more than anything, their families. When the rubber hits the road, that’s how he has managed to survive Columbus and live up to the lofty expectations that come with business there. 

It wasn’t just because I like George. Governor DeWine was walking around shaking hands and taking pictures. Most everyone he interacted with couldn’t wait to lick the shoes of DeWine and pander to him for the powerful seat he sat in. Those same people might badmouth DeWine the minute they were away from him, but when shaking hands and taking pictures, they were like little girls at a pop-rock concert backstage. Power was a seductive force, and they were undoubtedly under its influence when around the Governor. But not George Lang. While respectful, he stayed very true to himself and represented his district exceptionally well. And it wasn’t an act. I wasn’t always somewhere that George could see me. It was just how he was, and I was proud of him. It gave me hope that all the hard work in preserving our republic, first at the state level, then at the federal level, was worth it. That day at the Statehouse is how it’s supposed to be in politics. It’s an example of how to do it right. We build the temples to a republic that has taken us thousands of years to perfect. And our government in Ohio is supposed to be contentious. It’s not supposed to be a fraternity of consensus builders. The Statehouse was built to debate and flush out the best and brightest ideas from the weakest. And over the many decades that the Ohio Statehouse has been there, it has suffered many disappointments in the elected representatives who have gone there to do our work. But George Lang isn’t one of them. If the Statehouse could smile, it surely would when George walks into a room, for that is the reason the place exists.

Rich Hoffman

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