Sunday, June 4, 2017

Two Paths: America Divided or United by John Kasich

Hardcover Pub April 25th 2017 by St. Martin's Press ISBN13: 9781250138460

John Kasich began writing this book as soon as he became the last man standing in the 2016 Republican primary contest between sixteen candidates and Donald Trump. We know Trump won by deriding and dismissing his opponents, but Kasich seemed to run under Trump’s radar. Neither Trump nor Kasich were beholden to Far Right money being shoveled to the other candidates by the Koch brothers’ organizations, and the Republican Party kept some distance from the two of them as well. But other than that, Trump and Kasich have practically nothing in common.

This book is not a difficult read. It’s as though we had an opportunity to sit around listening to Kasich tell stories about the campaign, what it’s like to run for president, what the candidates are like behind closed doors, how to begin to think about a national campaign, etc. It’s intrinsically interesting stuff, but not especially critical to know.

Although I am not Republican, I sought out information about Kasich to see what was different about his thinking from my own. Frankly, he was the only one I could stand to listen to. He is not a jerk, and often acts like a mature adult, which I find appealing. He has the common man touch in that he doesn’t seem particularly philosophy-, ideology-, or theory-based. He comes across as someone who puts one foot in front of the other, and while he has guiding principles, for the most part he is relying on material tested in a big swing state with enormous social strains and stresses.

That a governor can take so much time to campaign and then promote his book on the way to beginning a new campaign means either that he is really good at finding people who can do his job for him while he is away or he has a reservoir of goodwill from voters that he is gradually spending. One’s career is often derailed after a failed bid for president, but it almost looks as though Kasich could carry on as a perennial candidate until he decides to retire, not winning national office but managing his state coffers admirably.

Kasich makes no bones about the fact that he is a religious man. In my mind it is appropriate for him to bring up God because Kasich is actually a nice guy who appears to think about others. It’s in his daily conversation and in the way he treats others. Placed side-by-side with other candidates who also claim to be religious, Kasich comes off as looking pretty authentic in contrast.

In this book there is a chapter that makes enormous sense to me, and none of the other candidates anywhere has talked about it, Democrats either. In that chapter Kasich discusses the how the electorate often worries about a crisis of leadership when we perhaps face a crisis of followship. In other words, a leader is as good as his staff and the people on his team. (We all know this, we’re just not used to purported leaders telling us this. We can’t just pick someone and expect them to fix everything while we go back to our own concerns.) We should be the change we want to see. We need to find candidates that speak for us and deliver on our priorities, and we need to work to make him/her viable in the leadership job.

This book is named after a speech Kasich gave April 12, 2016 to the Women’s National Republican Club in New York City. Kasich had come in second in the NH Republican primary in February after 100 town hall events in the state. In April, the remaining candidates were down to three: Trump, Kasich, and Cruz, just as in that NH primary vote. This is the speech in which he said he would not “take the low road to the highest office in the land” and that “American is still great.” Of the two paths he spoke of, one is that of fear and division, the other is a sometimes steep path to overcoming issues which need resolution. The view on that second path is great, Kasich says, and we’ll be working with great folks (instead of the loud, greedy, insensitive boors on the other path).

I have no idea why more conservatives are not interested in the Kasich message. He seems perfectly rational, thoughtful, and effective, just what you’d think we’d want in a lawmaker, judge, or executive. He may not be the brightest bulb in the bushel, but like he says, he shouldn’t have to be. He has us. And besides, I think he knows a whole lot more than he communicates. Wisely.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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