The Republican field is still murky, and a clear establishment-backed candidate has yet to emerge, but after Saturday’s Republican debate, one thing has become apparent: John Kasich is the one candidate on the stage who cares about people. Kasich has ascended as the centrist candidate who has a clear track record of treating all Americans with equal compassion and dignity, and has been a fiscally responsible executive who has stimulated economic growth in Ohio. While it might have been Jeb Bush’s brother George who coined the term “compassionate conservatism,” it is Kasich who actualizes it.
On fiscal issues, Kasich is a faithful and genuine conservative. Upon taking office, Kasich turned an $8 billion budget deficit into a $2 billion budget surplus. Kasich has been able to hold a balanced budget in his state, a feat most governors can only aspire to. He also acknowledges there are some shortcomings to our robust free market. Kasich understands that economic theory is important, but sometimes people need help. As president, Kasich will bring his firm handle on the economy into the White House and will work to balance the federal budget, a feat our country has not been able to accomplish in over a decade. He will have the same courage as President George H. W. Bush, who made law that all increases in spending must be matched by an increase in revenue, a truly conservative principle that our country, and party, has strayed from.
On social issues and health care, Kasich’s policies are exactly what this country and the Republican Party need—he is a social moderate who urged government employees to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, and has told conservatives that it is time to move on from the marriage issue. In Ohio, Kasich expanded Medicaid and masterfully reduced funding for the program, helping his citizens become insured, but managing costs responsibly.
Regarding immigration, Kasich shines when compared to the radical ideas of the other candidates seeking office. Kasich understands that it is inhumane to ship 11 million people out of the country, breaking up families and communities. Furthermore, Kasich supports allowing more visas for skilled immigrant workers who want to come to this country, something that the private sector has been asking for. Here, Kasich shows that he will not pander to the party’s most extreme voters like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and even Marco Rubio have begun to do.
Foreign policy is one of the most critical aspects of this election cycle, and Kasich will be strong on ISIS and other threats, both domestic and abroad. Kasich believes in a reasonable plan to form a coalition of countries to work to defeat ISIS, unlike some other more hawkish candidates. Kasich also concludes, sensibly, that our problems do not need to be solved militarily, and sometimes diplomatic solutions, such as our agreement with Iran, can be good for our country and the global community.
Many Republican primary voters are likely to attack Kasich, calling him a RINO (“Republican in name only”) or a candidate who is not truly conservative, but I see it as quite the opposite. The Republican Party that I support is the party of Reagan and the party of H. W. Bush. Kasich embodies both of these men. I am not sure exactly when the national Republican Party transitioned from the party of these great leaders to the party of Trump and Cruz, but I have not traveled with them. The party that I support cares about what is best for all people. The Republican Party I know stands for civil liberties and a free society for all. I stand for a government that has a responsible budget, but also allows citizens the freedom to do what they want, whether it is to love whom they want or to spend their money as they want. This Republican Party is the party that must rise, not the hateful and controlling party of Trump.
It is too early to concede the election to Hillary Clinton, as many pundits have done, and if an extreme candidate such as Trump or Cruz is elected, that is exactly what the party will have done. The Republican Party of the future still has time to modernize, emphasizing free-market principles and free-choice principles. The party does not have to alienate vast swaths of the electorate that likely agree with many of the things the Republican Party should stand for. The modern Republican Party is reflected in John Kasich: A socially moderate, fiscally responsible, and caring candidate who does not want to leave anyone behind. If Republicans want to win in the general election, they will go to the polls and elect Kasich as the party’s nominee.
Featured Image by Michael Dwyer / AP Photo