In the first GOP debate Ohio Governor John Kasich was seen by many as a stand-out performer and he continued his relatively good run in this last debate, however when he did speak at the CNN debate his policies are no more moderate than traditional establishment Republicans. His ideas are not in any way going to improve the lives of the American people, although CNN did a brilliant job in denying him airtime to actually promote those ideas.
Kasich’s first contribution of note when he seemed to chastise the other candidates by complaining that no issues were being discussed, issues like “balance the budget, pay down the debt, strengthen the military”; considering that “strengthen the military” would involve huge amounts of money, Kasich’s appearance as a moderate seemed to go straight out the window particularly as by balancing the federal budget whilst expanding the military would require savage cuts or raising taxes, with the latter off the table for the Ohio Governor.
His next moment of speech was on foreign policy where the Governor showed that he was remarkable ignorant for somebody who portrays himself as the sane Republican among the shit-peddlers. On the Iran deal he said that he would never have signed it but also tempered his response with the acknowledgement that the United States couldn’t maintain the sanctions on Iran on its own. He also made the incorrect statement that Shia Iran is funding Sunni Hamas against Israel which is ridiculous as there is a huge sectarian divide in the Middle East, and said that he would put sanctions back on Iran if they funded Hezbollah.
Admittedly Iran has a history of funding the Shia group in its armed attacks against Israel, however it also worth pointing out that Hezbollah is also currently fighting ISIS, who, it is worth pointing out, the US are not keen on either; his statement of intent about putting sanctions back on if Iran funds Hezbollah is also dependent on whether the United States can get support from other major powers. In Europe the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people has grown in momentum especially since the 2014 Israel-Gaza War; a President Kasich asking for new sanctions on Iran because they are funding a group, which is fighting ISIS, who is attacking Israel may find himself isolated among European allies who a growing more and more impatient towards Israel’s right-wing government.
His final comments on foreign policy more broadly came in the form of a terrible statement that, if uttered by the actual US President, wouldn’t go down well in the Middle East: “the West needs to make it clear that our faiths like Christianity and Judaism, are better than radical Islam”. As an atheist I would argue that all religions are bad and granted Kasich specified his opposition to radical Islam, but from a political perspective this is not how to address this issue; if one of the main charge against the West is that they are crusading imperialists looking to denigrate Islam, it’s probably not a good idea to argue that one religion is better than another one in a region that in recent years has been the centre of some of the worst sectarian violence ever recorded.
The Ohio Governor’s next intervention was about Planned Parenthood in which he said that he supports defunding the organisation but opposes shutting down the federal government over it. In order to remain relevant to this especially right-wing element of the Republican Party, he said that shutting down the federal government as a tactic should be used from time to time, but that it reflects badly on the GOP if it shuts down the government when there is no chance of such legislation being passed: “President Obama isn’t going to sign this and when government reopens people will ask what was accomplished”.
Kasich was about fiscal policy in which he was asked whether he agreed with Donald Trump that taxes on hedge-fund managers should be raised, to which he responded “no”; this omission clearly shows that Kasich is just as bad on the economy as other Republican candidates because this refusal to put up taxes on hedge-fund managers proves that he has bought into the idiocy of trickle down economics. He also claimed that he was a lead architect in Congress the last time the federal budget was balanced, which is a politician’s way of saying that he was one of the 538 members of Congress at the time. He finished up by saying that he had balanced budgets in government and in the private sector, which is great way of marketing yourself to an incredibly right-wing base.
To conclude in the first debate Kasich attempted to position himself on the moderate wing of the party much like Jeb Bush, however he seems to have continued this drift to the right in order to take votes away from more libertarian or socially conservative candidates. The political ground that Kasich should have occupied along with Jeb Bush should have been were he remained so that people who want a moderate candidate that doesn’t come with Bush or Christie’s baggage would be able to confidently cast their vote for Kasich. I think that as a result, Kasich may be one of the next candidates to drop out of the race.