The past couple of weeks have witnessed perhaps the most disgusting display of pettiness, irrationality and sheer embarrassment in recent American political history. The public has been witness to violent campaign rallies, vulgar sexual allusions, KKK endorsements and vicious name-calling. In the process, the civility of American politics has evaporated. While the nation can point its finger at Donald Trump for this chaos, the fact of the matter is that no one was willing to stand up to the business mogul for months. The lack of courage on the part of the media, the American public and both political parties to end Trump’s rampage is truly disheartening.
Yet the lack of civility in this race does not lie with Trump alone. The vicious personal attacks on Hillary Clinton at Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) rallies, profane comments made by Ben Carson on gay Americans and the backlash to Martin O’Malley’s “all lives matter” comment have shown the true ugliness of this campaign. In the process, only a select few have emerged from this disgusting fray as serious, principled and honorable candidates. Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) is one of these candidates.
When Governor Kasich announced his entry into the presidential race last Summer, no one paid any attention. Kasich was the last of the 17 Republican candidates to enter the race –– and because all the big-name candidates (Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeb!, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.), Hillary Clinton) had already announced their candidacy, Kasich was simply an afterthought. The governor barely made it onto the first debate stage in August, and his ideas were mostly ignored. Surely, many thought, Kasich had no chance whatsoever. Why was he even trying? Yet Kasich has proved time and again that he has earned the right to stay in this race.
First, and above all, Kasich has brought a rare sense of civility to the race. While Sanders rallies have been taken over by Black Lives Matter activists and Trump rallies have descended into violence, Kasich events have gained notoriety for their warmth and candor. Last month, a Kasich rally in South Carolina gained attention after a young college student made a moving speech on how after a rough patch, he had found hope in God and his presidential candidate, John Kasich. Holding back tears, the young man asked Kasich for a hug –– which the governor willingly accepted. The moment, which MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough described as “magic,” symbolized the greater theme of the Kasich campaign: humility and a deep devotion to one’s fellow man.
At the same time, Kasich has been able to articulate a strong message on issues of policy. The Trump campaign has been focused on “making America great again” –– yet the businessman has provided zero specifics on how he plans to achieve this. When pressed for concrete details on his plans, Trump vaguely states that he will eliminate incompetent leaders and that will somehow magically turn the nation around. At the same time, the Sanders campaign continually makes a multitude of promises that are not only unrealistic in the current political climate, but would be far too costly to afford (you can only tax the rich so much). In contrast to these campaigns, Kasich has provided a concrete, viable, common-sense approach to government. The governor has outlined a clearly defined plan to combat the deficit, reform education, expand infrastructure, grow the economy and fight the drug epidemic. But more importantly, Kasich’s plan does not demean the wealthy or the nation’s leaders, but rather focuses on “lifting all Americans.” Kasich truly seems to believe in President John F. Kennedy’s maxim, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
But perhaps the hallmark of the Kasich campaign is that the governor has (by far) the most experience of any candidate in the field. The Ohioan entered Congress in 1983 and built an impressive resume in the House: he served on the Homeland Security Committee, worked across the aisle with Democrats and worked with President Bill Clinton to pass the first balanced budget in decades as chairman of the House Budget Committee. As governor of Ohio, Kasich balanced the budget, created hundreds of thousands of new jobs, cut taxes, won re-election with 64 percent of the vote and lowered the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent. Now let me ask you who’s more qualified to be president: someone with John Kasich’s resume or a celebrity television mogul?
There is no doubt that this is a crucial election, as the next president will face ISIS, Russia, the debt, job growth, burgeoning frustrations in Eastern Europe, education concerns and likely a Supreme Court nomination. Is the Republican party willing to nominate a man that incites violence and hate in the face of these pressing issues? Is the Democratic party willing to nominate a man whose policies are unfeasible in the current political climate? Of all the candidates running, it seems clear that the only candidate ready to put forward a clear path for the nation is John Kasich.
Michael Glanzel is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cornell Shrugged appears alternate Thursdays this semester.