“The Disrupter,” Jennifer Gross, Gets an Award: Standing up for what’s right when it costs the most to do so

At the Patriot Awards at the end of May 2022, Jennifer Gross, my State Representative, received the Ignition Award. When I talk about Jennifer, I refer to her as “The Disrupter,” and she likes it. I don’t mean it in a negative way when I say it. I think she satisfies a much-needed role in Ohio politics. On the one hand, there is stoic politeness that is part of the process of writing and voting on new legislation. Bridgebuilding with others is very much a part of that process, and often, politicians find that by the time they compromise with everyone to get something done, there isn’t much left of their original idea. And during her first term as a House Rep for the 52nd District in Ohio, she has caused consternation. I wouldn’t say she’s made enemies because she is a very likable person. But she’s too independent for many people’s liking  in the Statehouse.

On the other hand, many are very critical of the political process and see all the compromises that have to go on as evil and part of doing the devil’s work. All the bridgebuilding that goes on with lobbyists and other members of the House and Senate is what many say give politics a bad name because the people they are supposed to be representing are not part of that process. From my perspective, Jennifer Gross does an excellent job threading the needle of all those forces to do what she thinks is an excellent job for all the people in her district, even if they didn’t vote for her. And she is certainly deserving of an award for going above and beyond when it counted most during 2021 and 2022. 

Things did get very hairy several times during the fall of 2021 when Joe Biden, the illegally inserted president who had no authority to do so, issued an executive order mandating that OSHA manage mandatory vaccinations and that all federal employees, anybody who touches a federal contract which is nearly impossible these days because the government sticks its nose in everyone’s business to such a large extent, would have to get mandatory vaccinations. This was a huge problem. It was detrimental for the government to insist that people put medicine in their bodies to work. It was undoubtedly a sensitive exploitation of the standard Chamber of Commerce position of employer sustainability. Employers needed to maintain their rights to regulate their own workforce and impose the things required for their business, such as proper PPE like steel-toed shoes, gloves, and safety glasses. The Biden order made it hard for Republicans to defend employee rights and still support the Chamber of Commerce’s position of employer obligations. Suddenly, the way the Covid vaccine shot was being proposed was meant to split those elements and put them in combat with each other. It was a complicated issue to navigate politically, which was part of the federal plan to take over the entire industry with ill-defined rights. It took months for the legislature in Ohio to respond correctly, and by the time they did, it was too late. The saving grace in the matter turned out to be court cases that were striking down the mandate in federal court as being what we all knew was unconstitutional from the beginning. Yet, that didn’t stop the federal government from trying. 

Before the Biden administration issued their executive orders mandating vaccine mandates, in September of 2021, Jennifer Gross sponsored H.B. 248, the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act in April. It was introduced to get in front of the problem, but it received a lot of pushback. Many legislators were upset by Jennifer’s approach to the bill and her unwillingness to do the kind of team building that was required to get that kind of legislation to move through the House. At that precise time, Jennifer was way in front of what was acceptable criteria for the validity of the vaccines. Many in the House leadership were not comfortable with the testimony that Jennifer was offering showing that the vaccines might be potentially dangerous. Like the election fraud issue, challenging the premise of the mandatory vaccines was a political nightmare because many wanted to believe that an answer to a major pandemic could be solved through institutionalism, not individual free will. So even Republicans were split on the matter.

Meanwhile, the tick-tock of the clock was pushing toward mandatory enforcement, and the House was stuck on how to proceed. Defend the individual person or the company where people are employed. Could people just vote with their feet and leave their companies only to jump out of the frying pan and into the pressure cooker. Either way, individuals were being imposed upon by the federal government. Jennifer’s positions, which sounded really radical at the time, turned out to be correct, which is the contents of the Robert Kenndy Jr. book, The Real Anthoney Fauci, where the danger of the vaccines, the government position on Covid, and the origins of Covid under bioweapons direction from the Department of Defense have all turned out to be true. At the time, nobody but Jennifer Gross even considered doing anything about standing up for individual people in a case of blatant government tyranny and extreme overreach.   

Jennifer can afford to be a disrupter, upset House leadership, and challenge them healthily. She has a nice husband. They are not in debt, and she has no care in the world at all to become wealthy. They are a happy couple who are not beholden to many people in the world and are free to make their own personal choices, which made Jennifer free to take a position on the vaccine mandates. When things really got heavy in those challenging moments of government overreach coming straight out of the White House, Jennifer showed what kind of person she was, and we are lucky to have her. There were a lot of lessons learned during that episode that everyone is much more prepared for going into the future. When things got really heavy, and it mattered most, Jennifer Gross was willing to disrupt a process that the Biden administration was clearly exploiting for power grabs meant to erode away the constitution through the nature of the bureaucracy of state government. And without Jennifer, there wouldn’t have been much discussion about pushback. When federal judges were thinking about what to do on this executive order ruling, there is no question that the national debate that Jennifer Gross was a part of bringing the legal questions that they had to consider to the front of the discussion. And when those judges saw how the case was shaping up, with state representatives like Jennifer Gross pushing back against vaccine validity when Ohio State University was going the other way, its clear that the value wasn’t in the legislation that would be passed in the House to become actual law, but that the debate was in constitutional validity which the judges saw would shape how history remembered the matter. And when it was most dangerous to have those opinions, Jennifer wasn’t afraid of the consequences. She did what was right, even if it cost her to do it. So in that context, Jennifer Gross, “The Disrupter,” did Ohio an excellent service. And the political world is much better off for it, and she certainly deserved the award she received at the Patriot Awards. 

Rich Hoffman

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