February 29, 2016 4:37 AM
Editor’s Note: In anticipation of Georgia’s presidential primary on Tuesday, GeorgiaPol will publish a series of essays in support of some of the leading presidential candidates. This essay is from Kasich supporter Stephen Plunk.
You don’t have to look very hard to see how polarized political culture has become. Spend any time on social media or in a “comments section” and you’re bound to encounter a “Trumpkin” or a “BernieBro” or some other candidate’s equally detestable online warrior, spewing vitriol and scorn on any who don’t support their preferred champion. But it’s not just these internet crusaders, bravely hiding behind the anonymity of a computer screen, where we encounter it; turn on CSPAN and you won’t see much of a difference on the floors of Congress where our “leaders” are struggling to maintain some of even the most basic functions of government. Politics appears to have become more uncivil than ever before and not only have relations between the parties continued to deteriorate but we’re also seeing it within the parties, where factions and coalitions that once stood together are becoming increasingly Balkanized. With the rancor and outright nastiness we’ve seen lately, is there really any surprise that voters on both sides are turning to Outsiders™? When nobody within the process seems capable of solving America’s problems, of course voters are going to fall victim to the allure of demagoguery. Yet there do still exist statesmen and women in both parties willing to stand above the fray and govern. The only one left running for President is Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich.
Governor Kasich has made a career working with Republicans and Democrats alike to create results. He was the architect of the last balanced budget, signed into law by a Democratic President. In Ohio he worked with Democratic mayors to reform Ohio’s education system so as to return money and control back to the local level and expand the charter school program. After inheriting a state deep in depression, suffering heavily from the auto industry collapse and facing an $8 billion budget shortfall in Ohio, Governor Kasich worked with legislators of both parties over his first term to create a $2 billion surplus, a $5 billion tax cut for Ohio families, and 300,000 new jobs. Kasich’s bipartisan criminal justice reforms, which focused on treatment and rehabilitating inmates back into society, have been cited as a major factor in the drop in recidivism in Ohio’s prison system, now one of the lowest in the nation. Kasich’s actions after the Tamir Rice shooting received applause from both law enforcement and Black Lives Matter. Throughout his decades in public service, Governor Kasich has consistently been able to bring all sides to the table and achieve real progress.
Make no mistake, Governor Kasich is no moderate. He defunded Planned Parenthood in his state and has done more to cut abortion access in his state than perhaps any governor in the nation. He picked a bruising fight with public sector unions the moment he took office. He’s slashed taxes and fights for small business. He’s a committed, lifelong conservative. His broad appeal comes not from his occupying some centrist ideological space but because he’s willing to compromise to produce results. While other politicians have come to see “compromise” as a dirty word, Governor Kasich has used it as a tool and in doing so he has enacted a broad conservative agenda in Ohio, while winning reelection in a landslide.
For the past two Presidential terms, American government has become defined by obstructionism, intransigence, acrimony and a lack of anything to show for it. We have two political parties incapable of working together on almost anything and increasingly unable to work with themselves. Bridging this ever-widening gulf may be the most important issue in American politics today and if there is a candidate in this race capable of that, it’s John Kasich. No other person running presents a real chance of it. In fact, no other candidate even seems particularly interested in it. Hillary, Bernie, Marco, Ted and The Donald will all engender the same manic derangement from the opposing party that Presidents Bush and Obama both encountered, and in an era of consistently divided government between the Presidency, House and Senate, that’s a recipe for four to eight more years of dysfunction. Only Governor Kasich has demonstrated an ability and willingness to engage both sides in constructive dialogue and action. We don’t need an ideologue who will alienate 50% of our country and continue to foster an environment of extreme partisanship. We need a President who cares more about governing than politics. We need John Kasich.