John Kasich has been rising under the radar, under the shadow of Donald Trump and with fawning from the media, leaving him largely unvetted by voters about who this guy is.
Back in Ohio, he has a reputation as a bit of a jerk. According to the blog Reason, “most people don’t really like Kasich, not even Republicans. They might like his stance on spending, or taxes, or abortion, but Kasich himself? Arrogant. Condescending. Manipulative.” (I’m not an Ohioan, but I live there six months a year as a college student, and I can generally confirm this assertion that people don’t really like him.)
People generally think of solidly right-wing conservatives as having a holier-than-thou attitude, but the only candidate in the race with this problem is the moderate, liked-by-liberals John Kasich.
In 2013 while fighting to expand Medicaid in his state, Kasich made this brazen and offensive argument to bludgeon conservatives into supporting big government:
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.
Excuse me? Did John Kasich just imply conservatives are going to hell for not supporting big government? I expect this sort of talk from liberals, who routinely pick apart and use certain elements of Christianity to try to guilt-trip and humiliate Christian conservatives on issues like health care, global warming, and others. But from a Republican governor and presidential candidate? Does he really think that conservatives who oppose expanding the welfare state because it increases dependence on government and makes people’s lives worse are guilty of not helping the poor?
On Sunday, Saint Kasich was at it again. On ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, Kasich said Christians should stop talking about gay marriage because they risk turning off young people:
STEPHANOPOULOS: … We saw Governor Huckabee earlier in the program say that he stands by Kim Davis, her decision not to issue those marriage licenses. Do you agree with that?
KASICH: No, I don’t agree with him. I think, you know, the court has spoken, the court has ruled as everyone know. I — or most people know, I believe in traditional marriage, but the court has ruled. But George, there’s one other big issue here, we have a lot of young people who sit on the fence on an issue like this. And they also think about their, you know, their belief in God. And you know for me I think we need to talk a lot about the dos, about humility, about helping our neighbor, about the need to live a life bigger than ourselves. And when we see these kind of battles going on I get a little bit afraid that it turns people off to the idea of faith in God, what it means to be a Christian. For me, it’s giving me a solid foundation to deal with the strong winds in life, to be a better person, a better guy.
Alright, Pope John. I, as a 21-year-old Catholic, should shut up about my Christian principles — which I believe bring true happiness and fulfillment to all who follow them — so that my peers will think I’m cool and come to a watered-down, empty, diet version of the faith.
Except as a 21-year-old Catholic, I’ve found that that doesn’t actually happen. A shallow faith without principles is the easiest to leave, as I’ve learned the hard way with many of my friends. So please, John — spare me your 63-year-old advice about what’s hip with the kids. You can cite your faith all you want to advance your political goals — that’s a good thing, and we need more of it. But Kasich is not doing that — he’s exploiting his faith and mine to advance his political goals and his personal ambitions.
That Reason article was headlined “The unbearable smugness of John Kasich”. I can’t think of better words to describe him.
Thomas Valentine is a researcher for APIA and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.