Kasich candidacy a missed opportunity


By Jeff Keeling

Jeff Keeling, Associate Editor

Jeff Keeling, Associate Editor

By the time you read this, I will have voted for president. Like the editorial board at my favorite news weekly, The Economist, I support the candidacy of Ohio governor John Kasich.

Unlike those folks at the secular British publication, who call the prospect of Trump, “anywhere near high office … terrifying,” I am not afraid of Donald Trump. And so, unlike The Economist suggests, I will not pull the lever for Marco Rubio hoping that “Marcomentum” will shift into overdrive among the Republican electorate and propel a man who has joined the insult circuit as Super Tuesday approaches, as if he somehow imagines that will help him to victory. Rubio is smarter than Trump, he’s more substantive than Trump, he would make a better president than Trump – though not a better one than Kasich – but he can’t out-Trump Trump.

The more craven among the Republican faithful will begin currying Trump’s favor if, as I expect he will, he secures the nomination. Shocked as they may have been by his rise, they will begin jockeying for position in whatever altered establishment a Trump presidency might bring (Chris Christie, anyone?). The Economist, very understandably, fears a free world with Donald Trump as its de facto supreme leader.

Political opportunists – lobbyists, staffers, think tank experts, journalists – fear having to make a living outside the cozy bubble of the current political-industrial complex. Most Republican candidates fear losing the nomination.

Fear is making the rounds these days. Hillary Clinton and her supporters are afraid of Bernie Sanders, afraid of people’s interpretation of her speeches to Wall Street fat cats, and afraid of the prospect of an indictment over classified emails.

Many Americans both liberal and conservative seem afraid, somewhere down deep, that things are headed in the wrong direction. They see, correctly, a government and political-industrial complex whose members are more concerned with maintaining their power and influence than with addressing the country’s challenges. Many of them are turning to extreme candidates who, each in his own way, seem to offer a nearly salvific route to the America they envision.

John Kasich doesn’t appear to buy into that fear. I believe I know why and that it has to do with his faith.

I watched parts of a few Republican debates. Those experiences were often painful, but I clearly remember a moment when Kasich spoke about the difficulties faced by workers and families being left behind by changes in the global economy. He seemed sincere in his desire to lead consensus-building efforts to provide them with opportunity at a time when the ability to create apps is proving more valuable than the ability to operate industrial machinery.

Kasich expanded Medicaid in Ohio against the will of his own party. He attempted to reform public sector unions, drawing the ire of liberals. He has said he wants to see greater efforts to help the mentally ill and drug addicts, but he also supports corporate tax cuts and streamline regulations. I sense he loves this country and wants it to thrive.

The United States of America, warts and all, has often been a world leader for good. People the world over still long to come here and partake of our unparalleled freedom and opportunity.

In the grand scheme of things, though, no nation ever has or ever will even approach an adequate standard of justice, opportunity and equity. That’s not a reason to cease striving for good.

Last week, Kasich told a supporter who suggested he shouldn’t “hold back” against Trump and Rubio, “I don’t know if my purpose is to be president. My purpose is to be out here doing what I think I need to be doing, and we’ll see where it all ends up.”

It doesn’t look like it will end up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come January. If it doesn’t, we’ll have missed a good opportunity.


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