If Kasich wins reelection this fall—as the papers and pundit class incessantly prognosticate —will voters have seen something new in a political leader, or will it be more of the Republican policies that have flopped with national voters two presidential election cycles in a row?
In 2012, the man from Michigan, Mitt Romney, venture capitalist mogul and son of former Michigan Governor George Romney, eventually won the GOP’s endorsement and attempted to limit President Obama to one term. When Romney finally showed up in Ohio, the biggest battleground state of them all, Gov. Kasich was at best lukewarm in his support for the richest man ever to run for the White House. But birds of a feather eventually flock together, and John Kasich, now 62-years old, was forced to stump for Romney. But as we know from just watching, Kasich is always talking about Kasich even when Kasich is supposed to talk about someone else.
Such was the case when Kasich made appearances at Romney rallies and touted his own story in government, especially as governor of Ohio, a position he barely won in 2010 by just 77,127 votes statewide. Kasich told an audience at Otterbein University, located in his old Congressional district, one he represented with ease for 18 years, that Romney “gets it.” Romney thanked Kasich, with whom he shared a burger before hand with some local students. He then proceeded to launch into the talking points that he used through his campaign, the ones that lost the election by five million votes nationwide.
Perhaps Romney’s most famous failing came when he was surreptitiously caught on camera plowing through his talk that included admonitions to the so-called 47 percent of Americans he said would never vote for him because they feel entitled to help from the government, from food to housing to “you name it.” Personal responsibility to Republicans like Romney and Kasich means not looking to government for anything as an individual, but the opposite seems to hold true for corporations. Kasich and his Administration want people, no matter how poor they are, to always be self-sufficient, to not ask for any help. Government is the bearer of original sin, or so Gov. Kasich believes in light of how he’s on a mission to reign it in, to teach it a lesson, to keep it out of people’s lives.
So it wasn’t any surprise that Kasich talked about personal responsibility at a recent rally in northern Ohio with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a big name in 2016 White House hopefuls. Christie stopped to backslap Kasich, after doing the same for Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania and Rick Snyder in Michigan. According to one published report of the event, Kasich said a second-term administration would advocate “what he termed personal responsibility for low-income Ohioans … and that he would encourage the better off to assist people in need apart from government intervention.”
“We’re going to get you involved. You, the values that you have of personal responsibility and discipline and hard work and loving your neighbor. We need you to transfer these values to some of those that are confused about it” Kasich said, according to Ohio Public Radio and Associated Press reports.
Kasich is known for being mean, sometimes intentionally so, which is both odd and sad in light of the Bible classes he took every other Monday as a Congressman in Washington. You would have thought that understanding why Jesus spent his life among the poor and sick would have softened him to the less fortunate, those people he likes to cryptically say are “living in the shadows.” Those people, who have a hard time making ends meet for themselves, their loved ones or family, just are not being personally responsible.
So when a comparison of Mitt Romney and John Kasich is made, is there any daylight between them? It doesn’t take a political science major to see the answer is absolutely not. Kasich is in lock step with all that Romney said were his values. Mean Mr. Kasich likes to foist personal responsibility on people, but not on corporations, who Romney famously declared are one and the same during the Iowa caucuses in 2012.
Exercising personal responsibility by corporations would make a tremendous difference in the individual and collective lives of all Americans. The six industries that kill the most people here and around the world—firearms, alcohol, food and beverage, cars and pharmaceuticals—haven’t been forced to exercise personal responsibility hardly ever. If John Kasich wants to help people who are living in the shadows today, and many who might find themselves falling into shadows in the future, he could show some backbone for a change by giving ultimatums to the corporate consumption complex, so wonderfully explained by Nicholas Freudenberg in his blockbuster book “Lethal But Legal” Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting the Public Health.
It’s easy for Gov. Kasich to blame individuals. It’s hard for him to confront the six industries Freudenberg outs in his book and ask them to change their policies and programs that have led to more and more chronic deaths as lax government regulations—John Kasich would call this retreat from responsible regulation “commonsense” regulations—put people at risk.
If Kasich wins on Nov. 4, he’ll no doubt interpret his win as a sign from the Lord that he’s presidential timbre. But his presidential campaign will inevitably become a replay of Mitt Romney’s failed effort two years ago. Romney and Kasich? What’s the difference between them? Zero. Zilch. Nada.