Many progressive candidates have recently announced their intention to run against President Donald Trump in 2020, but surprisingly one Republican is eyeing the challenge as well: former Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Kasich has said that he is concerned about the ideological direction of the Republican Party and Trump’s failure to be a ‘unifying agent’ for the United States. It is certainly tempting to laugh off these concerns, as Trump ran neither to ‘unify’ the country nor to continue Kasich’s definition of Republicanism. It is also tempting to brush Kasich off for his astoundingly low chance of taking the Republican nomination from Trump. However, the left is determined to take Kasich’s candidacy seriously, labeling him one of the “Good Republicans” because of his attacks on Trump and attempts to re-define republicanism. Although the left’s friendly relationship with Kasich would disappear if he ever won the election, Kasich’s misguided, potential candidacy has provided Americans with a unique opportunity to unite on political grounds by identifying as #NeverKasich.
For those on the right, I can understand the ideological arguments against President Trump. Despite appointing conservative constitutionalists on the Supreme Court, departing the Paris Accords, ending the Iran Deal, and signing tax reform, many still believe he is a pragmatist rather than a conservative. However, if you’re considering voting against Trump on principle, those very principles should eliminate Kasich from political consideration.
One of the most sacrosanct principles held by conservatives is the preservation of life, which is fundamentally why we oppose abortion. Life, no matter the size, is an inalienable right of the individual. Kasich’s position on the matter is incoherent, and conservatives are correct to criticize him for it. In 2018, Kasich vetoed, for the second time, a pro-life bill passed by the Ohio legislature, which would have banned abortions after the detection of a heartbeat. Kasich’s rationale was that he did not want to sign something into law that would be ruled unconstitutional by the court system. Frankly, that is a decision for the court to decide. It is the job of the legislature to pass policy, and it is the job of the executive is to make sure that policy doesn’t give the legislature too much power. It is not the job of the executive to interpret the constitutionality of laws.
Proponents of abortion may look to Kasich’s veto and believe that he is an advocate for a women’s “right to bodily autonomy.” However, this is not the case. When followed to its logical conclusion, the pro-choice ideology is that a woman’s right to choose overrides a baby’s right to life. During his governorship, Kasich also signed legislation that banned abortions after 20 weeks because he believes it is “the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach“. Kasich apologists would say he is compromising, and that compromise is good in politics. However, this example is nothing more than a compromise of principle. Individuals either believe that life must be protected or that a woman has a right to abortion, and Kasich has proven that his position is the most politically advantageous one. He is neither a defender of life nor a defender of abortion.
Governor Kasich also holds views that are antithetical to due process. In 2018, Kasich vetoed a bill that would have shifted the burden of proof on the prosecution rather than the defendant as it pertains to cases of self-defense. According to Ohio media outlets, every other state in the United States legally recognizes that those accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. “Why would I sign a bill that gives more power to the gun advocates,” asked Kasich. Aside from his demonstrable scorn for those who defend the Second Amendment, Kasich expressed that he believes the state has the ability to deny its citizens’ due process rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, which is the very opposite belief of conservatism. Conservatives believe in conserving the rights of all individuals that are rooted in the ideology of classical liberalism, including due process. However, Kasich once again shows he favors political pragmatism rather than principle.
Kasich has also expressed beliefs that run counter to the idea of separation of church and state. In 2015, Kasich argued that the United States should create a new agency of government to “promote Judeo-Christian values”. This may sound like an alluring concept to those who wish to see ideas of freedom and equality in areas where they are non-existent, such as the Middle-East. However, both liberal and conservative constitutionalists believe that the Constitution explicitly instructs the Executive branch to enforce the laws, not create them. Creating an agency as Kasich proposes would mean expanding the laws we have to favor specific religions. It would mean legislating doctrines like the Ten Commandments and subsequently creating punishments for those who violate those doctrines. Our founders wrote the Establishment Clause for a reason, and it was to prevent pseudo-theocrats like Kasich from promulgating or restricting belief systems both domestically and abroad.
There are certainly more reasons why both the right and the left should reject Kasich, and people should research his unprincipled statements and inconsistent record. After pledging to support whomever the American people decided to be the GOP nominee for President, Kasich immediately reneged his promise after Trump’s nomination, refusing to attend the 2016 GOP Convention in his own state. When pressed on his view of healthcare in 2016, Kasich opposed Obamacare and advocated for a market-solution. One year later, he stated that healthcare was a right and that government should provide it to those who cannot afford it. One could say that Kasich merely had a change of heart. But given his record of breaking his word, it is more likely to be pandering words of a political opportunist.
When all these things are taken into consideration, the path towards national unity becomes clear. Whether you are a principled conservative or progressive, we can begin to unify our country if we all identify as #NeverKasich.