What George Lang has in common with George Washington: Leadership is a thankless job that only the toughest can handle

For anyone who watched the very good Washington three-part series on The History Channel they were treated with a great reminder of several great elements that made that America’s first president so great. I have read several books on Washington and heard the story told many times in various documentaries, but this recent one was a bit different, perhaps because of the reflections of our own modern politics. As I write this the world is literally stunned that Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner in the Democrat primary and President Trump is in India attracting 110,000 people to the largest cricket stadium in the world. For many who only casually pay attention to politics, it would appear to them that the world is on fire and they are baffled as to the fuel that is burning it. But one thing that The History Channel show on Washington really drove home was how much famous figures like Thomas Paine despised George Washington at the end of his term and wished him well to leave politics forever, the guy who was the driving general who had won the war against Great Briton. In a lot of ways it reminded me of a domestic election in my state of Ohio where George Lang has several primary rivals and have targeted him as the established “federalist” and are nurturing the idea of “if only” someone new and fresh were elected, then everything would be great.

While my personal sentiments in politics are very anti-federalist, much more like Thomas Paine’s original writings and those of Thomas Jefferson, I admire the way that George Washington handled his first terms in office, especially how he quelled the tempers of Alexander Hamilton during the Whiskey Rebellion. Of course a country must enforce the laws it comes up with, but it should never lose sight of who they work for and so one of the thinnest lines in the history of the world started in America and was navigated by General George Washington in those early days of forging the country and there were many who hated him for it. George Lang of Butler County Ohio has had a similar experience, although not similar in the moments of war, but there were many political battles that George had to survive to enter into the 52nd House seat with a foot in the world of the old Republican Party and being one of the first Trump supporters to come out of the mainstream to support him. There were many political costs to that effort and George Lang managed to work through them with great effort, and a lot of hurt feelings.

But that’s the way it goes, and George Washington understood that contention came with the territory even if in the end he just wanted to be a farmer. To free mankind from the burdens of servitude in government with self-rule, was to unleash all their tempers and freedoms to express it. And that would of course lead to many contentious battles in American politics that has not eased up at all in the following centuries. Most people around the world feel the need for freedom, but few can express it as they can in America so by nature, there will always be discontent. Thomas Paine obviously sung the praises of Washington when Yorktown was won, or at Trenton. But once Washington had management power, like all members of management, the knives come out and everyone in the world thinks they can do a better job. The question is, do they have the guts and the skill, and I would argue that few other than Washington did. And regarding modern politicians like George Lang, they were forged in the furnace, and most people would melt away under such pressure. Their ambitions are always positive while they are on a yard sign, but once they get into office and those knives come out, they are easily overtaken, and the regrets happen fast.

And that was true on the national stage just as it is on the local level, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson had their own ideas about how the presidency should have been and were very critical of George Washington while the old general was president, but when they had their own turn, they of course had their own critics and in the hindsight of history, many could agree that George Washington did a great job, even fending off the militaristic efforts of his young friend Alexander Hamilton. We should all be so lucky that it was never Hamilton who became president but was in fact Washington. I see this as applicable to our Butler County region where George Lang is running for the senate because all these towns and cities in the county are named after those founding fathers, specifically Hamilton, Ohio which was so named as a direct consequence to Washington’s relationship to the Southwest Ohio area. History does repeat and the conditions of merit don’t change. And neither do the pressures. They are the same as they were in Washington’s time as they are now in the Ohio Statehouse. But the circumstances are modern as opposed to siloed into the past concerns where it took a lot longer to communicate from town to town, or country to country.

Anybody in any management position, whether its in government or in private enterprise will find it a lonely place to function from, and people by their very nature find control over their lives reprehensible, and will work to limit your management of them at every turn. The answer to the Bernie Sanders types who want to solve the problem with communism and just take away everyone’s freedoms so that everyone is equally miserable and hopeless is just another extreme way of dealing with the fundamental problem that anybody in management of any kind will be hated. They are loved during elections, but once the pressure is on to perform, the factions of hatred will increase essentially because people don’t like to be controlled, so anybody in that role will be heavily scrutinized. However, the trick is for the manager, or in this case, politician is to see how well they can function under scrutiny and do right when opposition is strongest.

That is what George Lang has that others simply do not and would take several decades of experience to develop. And yes, it’s a thankless job that only has benefit in knowing deep down inside that the world was made better by their work. Because the benefits do not come from the immediate gains of everyday life where literally everyone has a different vision for how things should be done and as a representative of many people, which any position as senator does, somebody is always going to hate you. What George Washington always had in mind was the big picture as it was evolved by Thomas Paine and other revolutionaries, even if those people couldn’t see it in practice themselves. Washington the leader could and held true to give our nation the jump start it needed where most everyone else would have failed. And that is how I see the efforts of George Lang of Ohio, it’s a thankless battle in the day to day world of politics, but he makes everything so much better with the big view of solutions that last into the coming decades. And that is ultimately how greatness is defined by history.

Rich Hoffman