The State of the State Speech: More money on education can’t help the core problem

It was different this time from the last when I had a chance to get a picture with Governor Mike DeWine and his wife. After the State of the State Speech in the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda, there was a nice reception where all the members of the legislative bodies could break some bread and mend fences together. DeWine offered pictures to anybody who wanted them, and they moved around the room, providing the opportunity. I was taking some photos of the event, and he asked me if I wanted a picture. But I turned it down, not for the reasons before, but for entirely new ones. I have not been a Mike DeWine fan, to say the least. Yet, over this past year, and really since the significant Covid mistakes, he has worked hard to improve his relationship with the Representatives and Senate. The last time one of these photo opportunities came up, I was cheering on a replacement for DeWine, and I was still very angry over the Covid lockdowns. Since then, however, DeWine has been very good on Second Amendment issues, such as Stand Your Ground and Constitutional Carry, things that seemed like science fiction just two short years ago, and I am appreciative of the process that caused DeWine to go from a gun grabber with aggressive background checks to suddenly a star on gun rights, even with the training of teachers in schools to prevent school shootings that my friend Thomas Hall carried to the finish line I had much more appreciation this year for the work DeWine had done than before, so my reasons were more to protect him than anything else. 

I always appreciate getting invited to those kinds of events, and it was great to see so many good friends in that type of setting. I like to see how the cookies are made behind the scenes, and I revere the Ohio Statehouse as a temple of law and order. I have a particular relationship with the Ohio Constitution that most Supreme Court Justices likely don’t have. I always keep a copy of it near me, and I read from it frequently. The Ohio Constitution, the American Constitution, the Bible, and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged are books I always keep near me to read through a few pages here and there because I find them refreshing. Just for good measure we might have to throw in The Richest Man in Babylon as well.  They are beautiful works of human imagination and effort, and I never get tired of pouring over their words and intentions. And going to the Ohio Statehouse anytime is like going to church on Christmas Eve for most people. It’s a spiritual endeavor; I feel very comfortable there, like a second home. This 2023 speech was a bit different because it was an off-year election, and everyone was a bit more relaxed and cordial. I saw in almost everyone a real desire to do the right things based on their own view of the world. They may have the wrong idea of the world, but the intent was undoubtedly present, and it was a day of good government with the pressure dialed down a bit, and I found it very enjoyable. 

Yet, out of all the people there, I was the one most likely to end up on the cover of a newspaper or splashed all over the headlines of a news broadcast. There have been at least three times over the last six months when things were really close to getting out of hand. I do a lot of things, and there are a lot of enemies out there who would like me not to do those things. And things do get contentious, to say the least. I don’t look for those scenarios, but they do come looking for me. And if that were to happen, given all the good work that DeWine has done for the Second Amendment, I was worried that news outlets might dig up a picture of us together and use it to slam him for his support of gun rights. So the best way to keep that from happening was not to take the picture. I tend not to take many pictures with political figures I like. They sometimes want a picture, and it makes me feel good when they do. But I do worry about their reputations if I get into a situation that might take the legal community a few weeks to sort through while they clean up a mess. I am happy that these occurrences have not turned into a bloody mess so far, but the law of averages says that one of these times, it will. And I really don’t want the news outlets to make others guilty by association. I couldn’t tell Governor DeWine all that; there was only time for a “no thanks.” But that is the reason why I didn’t get a picture when the opportunity presented itself. I love the Ohio Statehouse and would like others around the country because the concept of law and order is always present; the intent is to have a good, civil society. Yet there are villains out there who want chaos, no accountability, and sheer evil and don’t respect such places. And they would like to see a guy like me gone from their minds. So the math problem of an eventuality is always a concern I have in public settings, not for myself but for those around me. It can take weeks or months to sort out those kinds of legal issues in the aftermath, and the media would look for every opportunity to demonize anybody who has supported the Second Amendment in the process. Even if the outcome would be innocence, the damage is always done with first impressions. 

One of the big themes of the day from the speech was education and how to improve it. I didn’t want to say to everyone that spending more money on education was worthless. They were there to pass laws and provide leadership, so what were they supposed to do, do nothing? Spend nothing when it’s evident that so many kids were falling between the cracks and were entering adulthood with very low reading ability. The education system we have always intended an intelligent society. Still, there is so much political radicalism from the left that is a part of every level of the education system that the problem is what we teach, not whether we teach or don’t teach. Money isn’t the problem, it’s the radical teacher unions and the overall communist manifesto they all seem to have that have ruined the minds of so many kids. There wasn’t room at the State of the State Speech to cover that essential problem. But it did loom in the background over all the good intentions in ways that were obvious to me. But that was a fight for another day, and it extended out beyond the Ohio Statehouse into the philosophy of mankind itself. Until we changed that, a problem that is well beyond the media façade that usually deals with education issues, there was nothing that could be done to help improve education. It’s a system of corruption that protects itself with the promise of violence, so there isn’t much law and order can do in those situations. It’s a fight that resides deeper in the pages of our state and federal constitutions, and that fight is unfolding as we speak. But for a few hours on a cold January day in Ohio, some good tidings and snacks were worth a break in the rotunda of a magnificent and historical building. And it was a day I appreciated quite a lot. 

Rich Hoffman

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