John Kasich on Principles & Values
Republican Governor; previously Representative (OH-12); 2000 & 2016 candidate for President
The Republican former governor is known as a moderate and has been critical of President Trump in the past. It has been speculated that he might make a run for the White House. "I don't get into things where I don't thing I can win, and right now, right now, today, inside the Republican Party, I can't beat him in a primary," Kasich told SXSW. "But we'll see. That's today."
Kasich ended his eight-year governorship in January.
KASICH: Let's just say that Donald Trump is nominated and Elizabeth Warren is nominated, and you have this ocean of people who sit in the middle. Is there a legitimate opportunity for a third party, bipartisan kind of ticket to be able to score a victory or to have a profound impact on the future of American politics?
Q: But everybody that's looked at it in the past says it's just not possible. There seems to have been a ceiling [on third-party support].
KASICH: Well, no one thought a guy like Donald Trump would be elected president. No one thought we'd have electric cars. I mean, this is a time of dynamic change. And you can't judge tomorrow on the basis of what happened yesterday. So I don't know about that. Hickenlooper, love him, the name's too long. Hickenlooper-Kasich, you couldn't fit it on a bumper sticker.
KASICH: We have to get our facts right. We have to seek the truth. And if we have a difference between liberals, conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, we can mediate those differences, if we can agree to the basic facts.
Q: A new poll showed only 38% of Republican voters say the news media is "an important part of democracy." 51% of Republican voters agree with President Trump's view that the press is an "enemy of the American people." This is your party.
KASICH: The press is such a critical foundation of freedom in our society and all over the world. The first thing that people do when they want to assume power, these autocrats in Central Europe, they shut the press down. And here's the question people have to ask themselves. If you don't want to trust the press, who are you going to trust? A politician? I mean, that's the last group of people I would trust, are politicians.
KASICH: Here's what I do believe: You have a department store that's red and a department store that's blue, and neither of them right now are providing products to the great middle. And you know what happens? That's how another store opens up in the neighborhood.
Q: Are you going to open up that store?
KASICH: I'm still a Republican. Look, I didn't leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left me. In my state, we have balanced budgets, a surplus; we're up a half-a-million jobs. And then people say, "well, Kasich is not a conservative." What does that mean? Does that mean I have to be anti-immigrant, anti-trade, in favor of debt? I mean, party, come on home. We're pro-immigrant. We're pro-trade. We're pro-growth. We should care about people from top to bottom, not just those at the top, but everybody. I can bring that party back. That's what I'm going to do in one way or another.
Kasich appeared with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), which only sparked speculation that they may try to form a third party ticket to challenge President Trump in 2020. While this idea appeals to some--particularly Republicans who feel their party has morphed into something they no longer recognize--history suggests it faces steep odds.
The Electoral College makes a viable third party nearly impossible. Multiple parties just don't work under our system. It's more likely that one of the existing parties will fade away and a new party will replace it.
Imagine that we will come together to reject those who would prey on our weaknesses and our basic human nature, and instead choose leadership that serves & strengthens this nation, leadership that honors the American people, leadership that helps us look up instead of down, forward instead of back.
Imagine a bottom-up form of government that starts with each of us as individuals, recognizing that the true power of our democracy rises up, from the many, and that it doesn't rain down on us at the pleasure of the advantaged few.
Imagine that the future of this country rests with you and me--that it's on us to ensure that we survive and thrive for generations to come, just as we have survived and thrived for centuries.
This is the path I believe in, the America I believe in. It's the path I laid out in the "Two Paths" speech I gave that became one of the signature moments of my campaign.
My new role was to get all these proposals through the Senate, so I believed I had no choice but to find a way to work with everybody. This wasn't a game to me. I wasn't there to punish the other side. I was there to get stuff done.
I allowed myself a small, sweet moment of reflection. "The Lord wants our hearts to reach out to those who don't have what we have," I said at one point. "That shouldn't be hard for America. That's who we are."
I also said this: "The sun is rising, and the sun is going to rise to be the zenith in America again.. The light of a city on a hill cannot be hidden. America is that city, and you are that light."
I'd been down this road before, with that short-lived run for president in 2000, but I told myself that this time would be different--but only in terms of the outcome. I'd go at it in much the same way, the same way I'd run all my campaigns. I'd run on my record; I'd run on the issues; I'd run as if I were 20 points behind. But this time the results would be different.
Presidents come and presidents go, and while the president does really matter, it's the democratic principles that have made us that leader for more than two centuries and that have been sturdy enough to transcend political and ideological differences, a civil war, two world wars, and a century of technological and societal upheaval. Through it all we have remained history's greatest force for good because we have stayed true to who we are--one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.
We have been told that because of all this change, America has become more dark, that we have succumbed and that we are no longer strong. This picture of America in economic and moral decline is, of course, always followed up with warnings of our impending destruction.
When we come together, when we unite as a country, America always wins. For those who are angry or afraid, I want to assure you there is another, better way. I say to you that this path to darkness is the antithesis of all that America has meant for 240 years.
As to Hillary Clinton's demeanor during the campaign, she struck me as out of touch with blue-collar workers, as if she'd forgotten the very people who'd strengthened her party. Yes, she offered a clear alternative to Donald Trump, but it was an alternative I wasn't buying.
KASICH: I have been fortunate enough to have so many different experiences in my life, both in politics and in business and the media, across the board. And this book is about "How did we get to where we are?" Which is today divided; and "How do we get out of it?" And it really gets down to living a life a little bigger than ourselves. I think that in some sense we kind of lost it. And what's most important is for people to realize that they matter. I mean, they matter as much as a CEO, even if they're turning off the lights at night. And we need to come together as a nation. We need to focus on the things that bring us together, not the things that divide us. And we need to listen to one another. I wrote this book because I have observed what has been happening in our country. I'm concerned about it. But I believe that with an awakening the country can be refreshed and brought together again. I have no doubt.
KASICH: A lot of it is to focus on common humanity. Why don't we focus on the things that pull us together? Are we concerned about drug addiction in our neighborhoods? Of course, we are. It's not Republican or Democrat. Are we worried about veterans who come home and can't get a job? Can we look out for them? Of course. What about a senior citizen that lost their spouse? You know, what about the issue of human trafficking? Can we keep our eyes open? There are families that are in war with one another over politics. It's ridiculous. There are more things that bring us together. If we can focus on common humanity and sit down and fix problems where we live and believe in ourselves, it will open our ears to people who might not think like us.
KASICH: I had a national reporter say, "There's three lanes. There's the establishment lane, the anti-establishment lane, and then there's the Kasich lane."
Q: What do you say to Republican voters this year who view practical government experience as a liability and not an asset?
KASICH: I've been a reformer all of my career, fighting to reform welfare, fighting to reform the Pentagon, also being in a position to balance the budget, because that is very, very hard to do. And then in Ohio, of course, I had to bring about big reform, again, because we were so far in the hole and now we just found out we are up over 400,000 jobs since I took over as governor.
KASICH: The Western ethic, what is it about? It's about life, it's about equality of women, it's about the freedom of religion. I'm not talking about going to church. I proposed some time ago a comprehensive plan to deal with ISIS, including boots on the ground, a coalition including Arabs, etc. But we have to also engage in the battle of ideas when we have many people looking for meaning in life somewhere other than Western civilization.
Q: One of the criticisms, though, is that you're making a clash of civilizations argument.
KASICH: We want to agree and work together with people who share the view that the path to murder does not get you to paradise. When we win the military battle, what comes next? What we've got to make sure of is that we stop the radicalization of people.
KASICH: We need to respect our basic institutions, whether it's the presidency, teachers, our ministers, or our rabbis. We need to have great respect or the country begins to come undone. And so, I may not agree with the president, but I respect the office, and I respect the fact that he is the president of the United States.
Q: Would you ever have a problem with a Muslim becoming president?
KASICH: You know, I mean, that's such a hypothetical question. The answer is, at the end of the day, you've got to go through the rigors, and people will look at everything. But, for me, the most important thing about being president is you have leadership skills, you know what you're doing, and you can help fix this country and raise this country. Those are the qualifications that matter to me.
Kasich's impatience is a visible force: He is forever fidgeting in his chair, rocking on his toes, waving his hands, jumping into conversations, and generally refusing to remain at rest.
His leadership style is equally restless. Staffers say he hurtles from one mission to the next without taking a breath. "There's always the next thing," says his press secretary. "You finish something monumental, then everybody just kind of forgets about it and moves on to the next giant thing."
The son of a mailman, John grew up in a blue collar neighborhood in McKee's Rocks, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. Like many Americans his values were shaped by a childhood rooted in faith, family, community and common sense.
A couple of the guys pointed out that I used to complain about my role at Fox News, where I hosted a Saturday night program called "Heartland with John Kasich."
One member said, "That was always such a big thing with you, John. Did you win the rating? Were you #1?"
"You're right," I said, knowing I was beat. "It just killed me to lose to someone else. But that's not really envy. That's more like whining. I never once woke up in the morning and found myself wishing I was one of those other guys on the air. That's never been the case."
"That's just semantics, John," another member weighed in. "Whining is just a symptom of envy."
"That could be," I agreed. "But I'm not in any way, shape, or form trying to put myself up there as perfect."
And just what did I do? I talked. And the President listened. He asked a couple of questions, and I offered what I hoped weren't perfunctory answers. As I spoke I allowed myself to think I was making some kind of difference. It became clear as I talked that he was taking the opportunity to gauge the mood on college campuses, just 7 months removed from the shootings at Kent State, but I didn't dwell on his agenda. What mattered to me was the opportunity.
The good news is that meeting lasted about 20 minutes. The bad news is I would go on to spend 18 years in Congress, and if you add up all the time I spent alone in the Oval Office with various presidents you'll see if doesn't come close to those 20 minutes. I guess I peaked out at the age of 18. That's when I should have retired.
Election night was pure pandemonium. Before the election, the local newspapers had some flattering things to say about my campaign & about my potential, but none of the pundits figured I could pull it off. In fact, they all thought I would lose by a significant margin. The O'Shaughnessy name was too tough to beat, they all said. As it played out, though, the election wasn't even close. I ended up with better than 56% of the vote, a giant margin in a contest like this--and a stunning victory. Took the entire state by surprise to where some folks started calling it the biggest upset in the history of the Ohio legislature.
KASICH: I believe in terms of the things that I've read in my lifetime, the Lord is not picking us. But because of how we respect human rights, because that we are a good force in the world, he wants America to be strong. He wants America to succeed. And he wants America to lead. And nothing is more important to me than my family, my faith, and my friends.
Where do you go when the water rises?
It's a central question, don't you think? How we answer it says a great deal about our faith in ourselves. In one another. In God. And where we look for that answer says a lot, too. I've been thinking about this kind of stuff for many years. I think about it, and I talk it through. In fact, some of the people around me recognize that my faith and my search for meaning are such huge aspects of my life that they've been on me to write about them.
I'd belonged to a pretty serious Bible study group for the past 20 or so years. Here was a chance to shine light on one value in particular--faith. I could take on these big, grand, imposing topics such as God and the scriptures and make them a little more accessible, a little more real.
Faith, that's what it comes down to. The lessons of the Bible. The insights we draw from one another. In our group, we look to the stories of the Bible as a kind of road map for how to live.
I'm afraid I don't find God in ritual and worship. He's with me wherever I happen to be. I go to church because that's what you do. I find God in the stories of the Bible, in the random acts of kindness I see every day, in the choices I make and the ways I interact.
I find God every other Monday, over lunch with my Bible study guys. We meet every two weeks, to go through these motions in a semistructured way, but I try to do a little bit of it every day. Fifteen minutes--that's the timer I set aside for prayer and reflection, day in and day out.
His faith made a big impression, because it was the first time I'd seen such conviction on full display. I'd heard about this type of thing. I'd read about it. And here it was, in all its splendor & glory. Here was this man, with a great mind, finding peace and comfort and surety in knowing that his pain was merely a trial he was meant to endure. And knowing full well that he would endure it. It opened my eyes, and the scales fell from them. It was shocking. Amazing. And ultimately transformative.
Still, that kind of faith was elusive to me then. I drifted away from religion as a young adult. Then I looked up one day, and there was a huge hole in my life where God & religion had been
I wanted to know if this "God thing" was real. For several years, some of my Washington friends had been trying to get me to attend their weekly Bible study reform group, and I'd always resisted. The last thing I wanted was to sit in a chapel with a group of politicians talking about God, because I worried we'd say one thing in there and then go back out and do the exact opposite. But when I returned to Washington after my parents' death and tried to cobble my life back together, I started to look on this group as a possible lifeline. I was devastated, shattered, and desperate for any tether.
Lately, what we've come up with is this: when you live a life of faith, it can be a liberating thing. Faith is a freeing principle. We tend to think of these memorable, transformative characters in the Bible as having special powers, but we don't really know that. We just know that they were men and women of great faith. And we also know this: faith enables you to hold on loosely without letting go.
Faith reminds us that the first innings of this ball game will be played out here on earth, but we'll finish the game in the next life. We can go at it with some perspective, knowing that the whole game doesn't play out here.
With Ted, when he tells you he's getting back to basics, he mean all the way back to basics. He even wrote them down for me on a sheet of paper I ne keep tacked above my desk at home for ready reference.
Here's what he wrote:
"There is firm evidence that the universe had a beginning, therefore it had a cause.
We do have sufficient evidence regarding God as the foundation for faith. We don't have proof, we have evidence.
If God does not exist, life is futile. If God does exist. Then life is meaningful.
Faith is a choice.
Objective moral values have existed since Creation."
Here--no surprise--Ted told me to go back to my very basic beliefs, so that's what I did.
St Augustine maintains that each of us has a special gift, and that it falls to each and every one of us to unwrap those gifts and share them with the rest of the world. I like that image a whole lot, because I look at gifts like I look at stars. Have you ever seen an ugly star? I never have. They're all just magnificent. You look through the telescope and see that some of them are red and some of them are blue. And every last one seems just about as special and magnificent as a thing can be, but none of them are quite the same.
That, to me, is a true gift. We find them in the heavens, and we find them here on earth. We find them in our friends & family, and we find them in ourselves. And, significantly, we find them in our leaders.
My parents were in their late sixties, in perfect health, looking ahead to a long, fulfilling retirement, when a drunk driver crashed into their car as they were leaving a Burger King in August 1987.
My father had been killed. My mother was still alive when I got to the hospital, but I never got to tell her I loved her. When she died I sat for a while with my parents' pastor.
He said, "John, you've got t decide right now if you want to build a relationship with God. You have a window of opportunity now, you're open to it, but in time that window will close. This pain will ease and you'll go back to the rest of your life."
Right there, I knew he was right. And from that moment forward, I changed. Fully and truly. I was determined to build a real relationship with God, if He could stand for me as a strength & a direction. The REAL relationship was key. I wanted real, not learned. Not rote. Not dogma.
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About John Kasich: