What do you know about John Kasich (left), other than he has been one of the minor contenders for the Republican presidential nomination? Quite possibly not much more than that. Anyway, he’s the sitting governor of Ohio, and until just a few hours ago a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. As the last of Donald Trump’s competitors to withdraw from the race, he has essentially handed the nomination to the blowhard New York tycoon.
“Oh, the second-to-last man standing!” you say; “He must have been doing well. Why aren’t I more familiar with him?” Oh no, dear reader. He did miserably the whole way through. He only won a single state – his own. And despite Marco Rubio having withdrawn seven weeks ago, he still has fewer delegates than the Boy Wonder. Which means that, yes: after Cruz dropped out yesterday, he was coming in fourth in a two-man race.
If you hear anything about Kasich in the days to come, someone will inevitably say he’s a very nice man – a grandfatherly figure. That might be so, but as that is no more than the public face of the man, only his grandchildren know for sure. What can most definitely be said is that he is the very epitome of an entitled politician. His original hope was that voters could be attracted with platitudes and posturing in the stump tradition of politicians who purport to be outsiders but are anything but.
Fact is, this was never going to be Kasich’s year. In a primary season dominated by ideological purists, “outsiders” and firebrands, he’s a moderate, a career politician, and, frankly, a sneak and weenie, as this Newsweek profile documents. He spent every debate whining and moaning about the heated arguments that passed between the frontrunners, complaining that the harsh tone of the primary upset his daughters. His supporters said he was statesmanlike; any objective observer would say he suggested a case of mild autism in his limited ability to pick up on social cues and signals — in this case his blindness to the anger that has produced Sanders on one side and two insurrectionists, Trump and Cruz, on the other.
Fair enough. If Kasich had donors willing to pony up the cash and voters, although not enough, to him on the debate stage, that’s fine. He has the right to run for president. But the fact is that he didn’t have many supporters at all. Even when his fellow establishment moderates (Rubio, Bush, Christie) started dropping out, most of those votes went to Trump and Cruz; his numbers hardly budged. It has been mathematically impossible for Kasich to win the nomination since early March, so he had to bank on a contested convention.
Let that sink in. A wildly unpopular establishment moderate with no stomach for the primary fight spent a month openly plotting to subvert the popular vote and steal his party’s nomination.
As I said, Kasich might be a nice man, but he’s the very worst sort of politician. He’s the sort that refuses to accept that voters don’t like him. He’s the sort who is so convinced in his own goodness (he called himself the “Prince of Light and Hope”) that he has been willing to molest the democratic process to achieve power.
Already the pundits are heaping praise on Kasich, hoping and praying that he finds a new niche in national Republican politics. What a farce. Kasich’s hope and intention to subvert the popular vote and emerge from the upcoming convention has been disgraceful. It disgraced both him and the GOP. He was, in fact, less statesmanlike than Trump. The opposite of a statesman isn’t a civilian, or even a blowhard: it’s a bureaucrat. And that’s all Kasich has proven himself to be – a desperate, self-serving bureaucrat. Anything short of slamming the door in his face will only encourage these creeps.
As guidance at the ballot box, that’s a good rule of thumb in any democracy, including Australia’s: When we mark our ballots, we must never feed the rats.
Michael Warren Davis will be covering the US presidential race for Quadrant Online