Let’s hear from the man himself. Speaking last month at my alma mater, the University of Virginia, and as noted by The New Yorker‘s Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Ohio Governor John Kasich and candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for president had this to say: “…of course I’m not a moderate, I’ve been a conservative all my life…”
Surely a man who has fewer delegates at the moment than Marco Rubio has got is not worth writing about, one could argue. This is a fair point. Rubio’s campaign perished in the Florida swamps last week, yet he still has the same mathematical chance of achieving a majority of delegates as does Kasich: zero percent, goose egg, nada, the ol’ donut. Hell, you and I have the same chance as Kasich, unless you happen to be Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
Kasich is the last establishment man standing, and as such, his “plan” is to go to the Republican Party’s convention in Cleveland this July and hope that the party decides to self-immolate and hand its nomination to a guy who finished a distant third in delegates. This “plan” can only work if Cruz and Kasich succeed in denying Trump a majority, and it’s far from clear they can do any such thing. If they somehow manage it, AND one of them proceeds to capture the nomination, what are the chances of Trumpolini telling his blackshirts to stand down? The man has already passively aggressively threatened riots if this happens. Since he would need Trump’s voters to win the general election, Kasich almost certainly has no path to the presidency if he acquires the nomination through a brokered convention.
Kasich is worth thinking about, though, because he appeals to voters in a way that would make him a formidable candidate in a general election – again, if he were able to get there without precipitating a Republican civil war. He talks about civility and pragmatism, and claims to be running a campaign on behalf of all Americans. This works in American politics, and it’s scary because it masks an agenda that is indistinguishable from those of his rivals. If we blindfolded a voter, and Trump, Cruz, and Kasich’s platforms were soft drinks poured into three different cups, the voter would be unlikely to tell the difference after tasting each one.
In fairness, Kasich doesn’t want to round up and deport undocumented immigrants, so a Trump voter might spit his soft drink out. And to be fairer still, Kasich seems to support some kind of limited amnesty program for undocumented immigrants, though I cannot find a detailed proposal anywhere. On the candidate’s own website, for example, immigration is not even one of his issues. That seems like a strange oversight for a man seeking the nomination of a party that represents voters incensed over undocumented immigrants. Certainly a man of high character wouldn’t be hiding his views on the very issue his party’s base is most passionate about, would he?
Kasich is at best not terrible on immigration. The same can’t be said of his other policies. In Ohio, he has made life miserable for thousands of women seeking reproductive healthcare services. He wants to do the same for women on a national level if he becomes president.
His federal tax plan, like the one he’s enacted in Ohio, severely cuts taxes for top earners. In Ohio, he shifted the tax burden to the working class through higher sales taxes. He wants to eliminate the estate tax, just like Trump and Cruz.
On climate change, Kasich displays all the courage of his immigration convictions where he acknowledges a human component in climate change but refuses to do anything about it. In fact, he suspended a renewable energy program in Ohio that had saved Ohio consumers $230 million in six years.
On education, Kasich favors giving money to unaccountable, underperforming charter schools at public schools’ expense.
Finally, Kasich’s budget proposal would pay for his tax cuts for the rich and higher defense spending by drastically cutting just about every federal program in existence and devolving their responsibilities to the states through unaccountable block grants that effectively reduce funding available for welfare programs.
As always, it doesn’t matter what’s in a candidate’s heart. Look at his or her policies and his or her record. Due diligence on Kasich proves we should take his word for one thing, at least: he’s no moderate. Let the man wear his religion on his sleeve if he wants to, but make no mistake, he’s another radical conservative whose policies are designed to prove government doesn’t work by destroying it.