Ohio Statehouse bird's eye view

As spooky season rolls around again, that means Ohio’s even-spookier midterm elections will be right behind it. Naturally, a fun way to celebrate Halloween every year is to go visit a scary haunted house, but did you know that you can combine both the spooky season and election season into one visit to our state’s scariest haunted house? Yes, if you want to see some of the spookiest sights that autumn has to offer, just load up the family van and head down to what is arguably the most frightening haunted house in Ohio –– our Statehouse, right here in Columbus. After all, who needs ghosts, ghouls and creatures that go bump in the night when you have legislators, lobbyists and lawyers gathering in gaggles to make our state a truly darker place?

Hell, these days when it comes to corruption and the well-connected conspiring on Capitol Square, you couldn’t even concoct a more calculating hellscape –– the famous “HELL IS REAL” sign that’s down along the I-71 corridor may as well be relocated to the Statehouse’s south lawn. And why wouldn’t it at this point? Our state’s reputation is certainly starting to resemble that of a haunted house –– or worse. No matter where I travel in our country, this is apparent whenever I see “Ohio” trending on social media and realize that the horror stories of home are starting to spread.  Folks trying to stick keys to themselves to prove that COVID vaccines made them magnetic? Yikes! Ohio is the #1 state in the nation for public corruption according to experts? No thanks.

Then there’s one of the worst Ohio horror stories of all that went viral this summer –– 10-year-old girls who get raped and pregnant must now either leave the state for the necessary medical procedures or be forced (by law) to have their rapists’ babies. That means the policies coming out of our Statehouse are now going far beyond the horrors that are usually offered up by any haunted house. At least haunted houses don’t have any power, sway or jurisdiction over other haunted houses! But now –– because of the ghouls and power-hungry goblins running our Statehouse –– women are potentially forced to live with the consequences of their trauma for even longer than necessary. It's like all the strangers who were trying to scare you in the haunted houses now also have legislative power.

Also, before anyone gets upset about me referring to our state legislators as “ghouls and power-hungry goblins,” y’all should probably examine the physical features of some of Ohio’s “finest” legislative minds to see what we’re dealing with here. Obviously, most of the Republican legislators are fat, bald, white men who are just missing their hooded ghost costumes to fully migrate from the Statehouse to a haunted house (and probably much worse after that!) Meanwhile, the members of the “feminist wing” of the Ohio Republican Party look like they might have been dug up from a creepy Stephen King novel or a 1980s movie about haunted mannequins. Even the architect of Ohio’s potential full abortion ban –– Cincinnati’s State Rep. Jean Schmidt –– looks like she could be the Crypt Keeper’s ex-wife.

But seriously, folks –– how does Ohio keep ending up with all these Republican zombies crawling out of their graves and going to our Statehouse to try and put lower income Ohioans into early graves of their own? While Ohio’s abortion bans may not be as bad as some other red states, how did Capitol Square turn into such a hellhole? What horrors will Jean Schmidt and her cohorts unleash upon the people of Ohio next? And how much longer will we pay them –– much like we do at haunted houses –– to scare us? In this case, it’s similar to forcing people to live with the scare tactics they endured in a haunted house –– as well as those repercussions –– for life. At least in a haunted house you eventually get to leave and maybe get your money back. This is like going trick-or-treating and not even getting any candy.

There is an eerie twist to the “why” of how our Statehouse became such a dreadful place, which comes from The Ghost of Super Lobbyist Neil Clark, who was indicted in the historic HB 6 bribery scandal. His book –– What Do I Know? I’m Just a Lobbyist –– was finished before he committed suicide while wearing a “DeWine for Governor” T-shirt, which he specifically changed into before pulling the trigger to send a message. Hell, if that doesn’t send chills down your spine this spooky season, I don’t know what will! Neil’s book is available online or in paperback and while it’s not as creepy as a Stephen King novel, it does break down the horrors of Ohio’s political past –– and the horrors of what could come.