If you take a quick glance at the polls, you may fail to notice his name. If, by chance, you make your way through the crowded GOP field and find yourself lurking at the bottom of the candidate pool, you’ll find him: John Kasich.
Kasich’s candidacy has yet to spark the same curiosity as Trump or Carson’s, but his involvement has caught my attention.
Kasich is a less polarized alternative to the rest of the GOP candidates and has demonstrated a willingness to establish common ground between parties and mediate tough but necessary conversations.
Previously, he served as the U.S. House Budget Committee chairman and worked with Democratic representative Timothy Penny to produce a federal budget. In 1997, Kasich mediated conversations between Clinton and house republicans to establish a balanced budget. In Ohio, he led a similar effort and turned an $8 billion shortage into a $2 billion surplus.
Kasich has been adamant about budget cuts. In previous conversations, his suggestions to focus budget cuts on tax subsidies for farmers and corporate tax breaks were not taken well. But, his mediation and willingness to work across party lines is a quality of Kasich’s that I admire.
In each election, I attempt to vote based on issues, but I generally lean more left because of my focus on addressing income inequality. Kasich addresses income inequality within the framework of a small government.
In 2012 when the US Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion optional for States, Kasich launched a dramatic effort to expand Medicaid in Ohio. He was in a meeting with a legislator, during the expansion of Medicaid under The Affordable Care Act, he said:
“Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.”
While his expansion of Medicaid was done from a religious perspective, his reasoning and motives were well publicized. Kasich is consistent.
When it looked as if the legislature would not approve the expansion, Kasich announced he would bypass the legislature and deferred to Ohio’s Controlling Board. They passed the expansion.
His commitment to passing the expansion, a move that was not supported by the Republican Party, led Kasich to receive a lot of backlash from members of his own party.
To counter their objections, Kasich referenced conservative figurehead, Ronald Reagan.
“Reagan was fiscally responsible, but he was also pragmatic and compassionate. When we consider what Reagan would do, let’s also remember what he did do – expanded Medicaid,” he said.
Kasich is an advocate for budget cuts but has a sense of moral obligation to ensure the poor are well taken care of. He asks that supporters of small government come up with a way to help the poor and has challenged his party with a task that is not inherently simple. But, his focus on the problem of income inequality in America exemplifies the generosity of Christian values many other Republican candidates claim to hold.
While he may be further behind in the polls, Kasich recognizes what he considers to be the impracticalities of tax plans and budget cuts of those leading the GOP.
“You can’t do it with empty promises. You know, these plans would put us trillions of dollars in debt,” Kasich said.
“We cannot elect somebody that doesn’t know how to do the job,” he said in the third GOP debate.
There are fewer than 100 days until the first primary in Iowa, and Kasich has some serious ground to pick up in order to not be lost among the myriad of candidates. However, as long as the American people recognize that Kasich is an experienced politician with a feasible plan, there is still a fighting chance.