Ohio State Sen. LaRose: Americans Need To Give President A Chance

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the RNC in Cleveland in 2016. (Tony Ganzer / ideastream)
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It’s still very much in the early days of the Trump administration, but a policy and culture shift is well under way in the White House…and in the Ohio GOP.  On election night I spoke with Republican State Senator Frank LaRose of Hudson about the victory of Donald Trump, and he said his party will need to focus in general on making government work again, and make it more responsive to the people

This week I spoke with LaRose again, to hear how he thinks the new administration is doing.  He said he thinks the President is working to fulfill campaign promises, but it was too early for LaRose to tell if he was happy with the direction things are going:

LaRose: “There are plenty of things that he’s working on that I’m a fan of, and like anything there are certain things that he’s working on that I might not agree with.  Just because I’m a member of the same party as our president, doesn’t mean that we’re monolithic in our thought patterns, but I support our president, I support many of the things he is looking to accomplish, and I wish him the best .  And I hope that my colleagues and friends on both sides of the aisle have that same spirit, because when our president succeeds, the country succeeds.”

Ganzer: “Interestingly, you were just elected co-chair of something called the National Network of State Legislators Committed to Civil Governance. It’s a mouthful.  What is this organization and what does it do?”

LaRose: “It actually started with an idea that came out of a meeting here in Ohio.  There’s a group called the National Institute for Civil Discourse that formed after the tragic shooting involving Rep. Gabby Giffords, and some folks got together and said, ‘has it come to this where we can’t solve our problems by talking to each other?’ And the answer is certainly we need to focus on governing through discourse and through civil dialogue, and it’s been a great success.  We’ve been to capitals all across the country, and people are interested in it.  They want to find ways to work better together as colleagues, because we’re sent down to the state capital to solve problems, and when we dig into our trenches, and sort of focus on this tribalism of ‘I’m from this party, and you’re from that party’ we’re not doing our best work for the people we serve.”

Ganzer: “Now this seems like a Sisyphean task, because I can hear listeners already saying ‘civil discourse after the campaign season we saw?’ Some people are judging the administration already even before much has been done, to say that we are far from being in a state of true civil discourse.  How do you answer people?”

LaRose: “This is much bigger than one administration or certain groups of office-holders.  This is about the way our democracy works.  And I can tell you historically, we’ve had times when it’s been rough before. If you’re a student of American history you know that we’ve had a Secretary of the Treasury and a former Vice President shoot one another in a pistol duel.  We’ve had members of the legislature beating one another with canes on the floor.  So civil discourse has been something that each generation needs to work to embrace, so now it’s our challenge.  And I think that it’s incorrect to say it’s worse than it’s ever been, that’s sort of the Chicken Little approach.  But it’s also incorrect to say nothing can be done about it.  We can work to make civil discourse better, and again it’s not just about being nicer to each other it’s about governing better.”

Ganzer: “How do you do that when politics seems so fractured now?  Even within the parties—both left and right—it seems like there are so many different interests and perspectives and varying levels of passion for different topics.  How do you bring it back to this, let’s just get the job done?”

LaRose: “Part of that is to get beyond campaigning and focus on governing.  And that can be hard to do.  Part of it may sound trivial, but it’s just personal relationships.  It’s easy to demonize and to cast stones at one another when we don’t know each other.  But there’s this amazing thing that happens when we actually take the partisan armor off and get to know each other as humans.  And what you realize is that we have a lot more in common than we have that separates us.”

Ganzer: “There’s a lot of angst, it seems, by certain members of the community as they see what’s going on with the new administration.  It is a big change, just stylistically even.  What do you say to the people who may be are feeling frustrated or apprehensive as they see the new administration take shape?”

LaRose: “I think that folks should take a deep breath and remember that the Founders, who wisely created our form of government, created a strong Executive and then made sure that that strong Executive was constrained.  I think that many people in my party were apprehensive eight years ago when President Obama became our president, just like a lot of my Democratic friends are apprehensive—and candidly some of my Republican friends are apprehensive—now that we have President Trump.  The good news is our nation is as an institution stronger than any one administration whether it’s good or bad.  And I think that Americans need to give their president a chance.  That doesn’t mean we don’t hold him accountable, we absolutely have to hold him accountable, but we also have to give him an opportunity to govern.  And let’s see what happens, I’m hoping for the best.”


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