Kasich winning battle to be Democrats’ favorite Republican

So, John Kasich officially jumped into the race yesterday (at the workplace of one of my favorite people/readers, no less).  I must say, I’m really liking John Kasich these days.  Of course, given that he’s running in a Republican primary, that’s a big problem.  Sorry, you cannot win elections by not just disagreeing with your potential voters, but insulting their moral values (even if you are right– which I very much think Kasich is).  Chait’s had a great take on this last month:

Alex Isenstadt reports that Kasich offended a number of party donors at a Koch-organized conference last year. Randy Kendrick, a major party contributor and wife of the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, objected to Kasich’s moral defense of the Medicaid expansion:

The governor’s response was fiery. “I don’t know about you, lady,” he said as he pointed at Kendrick, his voice rising. “But when I get to the Pearly Gates, I’m going to have an answer for what I’ve done for the poor.”

The exchange left many stunned. Around 20 audience members walked out of the room, and two governors also on the panel, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, told Kasich they disagreed with him. The Ohio governor has not been invited back to a Koch seminar — opportunities for presidential aspirants to mingle with the party’s rich and powerful — in the months since.

It’s worth contemplating just how deeply Kasich’s heresy runs. Conservatives disagree about the optimal health-care policy they would implement in a world without political constraints. The closest a Republican can come to insisting upon the need to provide some alternative to Obamacare is to insist that repealing the law is not enough, that the party must put in place an alternative plan as well. A Republican can argue that their alternative plan is better than Obamacare, and that their alternative plan is better than the pre-Obamacare status quo. The thing you cannot say, and remain a Republican in good standing, is that Obamacare is better than the pre-Obamacare status quo.

But that is the fissure Kasich exposed. As a governor, the choice he faced was not the hypothetical one that Republicans prefer, between Obamacare and an imagined Republican plan that doesn’t impose costs on anybody. His choice was whether to accept the Medicaid expansion or let poor Ohioans suffer. He chose the former. And he defended his choice by stating that the alternative is cruel and barbaric.

Obscuring the moral basis of that actual real-world choice is the whole basis of contemporary Republican policy-making. If you’re sitting around the back room of the Bada Bing club and you suggest maybe shifting some operations out of racketeering and into stock scams, you’re probably okay. If you just come out and say that beating people up and stealing their money is immoral and you won’t do it, they’re not going to pick you to be the next head of the family. [emphasis mine]

Now that’s a hell of an analogy.  And it also means Kasich’s chances, despite a lot going for him on paper– popular governor of Ohio and former fellow Gingrich revolutionary– are pretty much zero.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

6 Responses to Kasich winning battle to be Democrats’ favorite Republican

  1. Jon K says:

    I love it when Kasich (my favorite candidate – and i aint no democrat) quotes Mathew 25 to evangelical republicans. I wonder how they interpret the text. For those who need a refresher it says:

    32 And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them from one another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world! 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something[x] to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something[y] to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me as a guest, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you cared for me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

    For a party that sees this as a ‘Christian Nation’ they seem to be using a different set of scriptures….

  2. rgbact says:

    Hey I figured someone was going to go all out for the moderate vote, what with 15 other people being fairly conservative. I agree with Chait that its death to insult your voters though. Thing is, there’s a fairly easy answer for the Medicaid expansion, that doesn’t involve going to the Democrats favorite playbook of “you’re a mean and heartless Republican” (Chait even yammers on about it for kicks in his last paragraph, which you seemed to especially enjoy).

  3. R. Jenrette says:

    John Kasich is to me the least scary of the 16 candidates running for the GOP presidential nomination. He comes across as serious, sensible and pragmatic. Sensible and pragmatic are not going to win the primaries for him.

  4. jeffbc94 says:

    Here are some photos from our student photographer if you (or your readers) are interested.

    As I said on Twitter last night, regardless of whether you agree with the politics, the people behind the scenes for these candidates are some of the most passionate you’ll meet. I’ll be interested to see how his advance team compares to others, as I’m sure he’s not the only candidate we’ll host in the next 16 months.

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