In a video that made the rounds last week, Republican presidential candidate John Kasich, while stumping in New York City, alternately quizzed and lectured a group of yeshiva students, who spend their days studying the intricacies of the Talmud. First he told them the biblical story of Joseph, then turned to Moses’ successor, Joshua. “Joshua was another great leader,” the Ohio governor said. “Do you know about Joshua?”
As cringe worthy as that moment was — and there have been others — we can only imagine how much worse it would have been if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz had been in Kasich’s place. Of the three men who remain in the race for the Republican nomination for president, Kasich is the only one who doesn’t scare us. Here is why:
Yes, Kasich wears his religion on his sleeve. But his faith also seems to have filled him with some humility. At the memorable first Republican debate last August, when Trump was attacking Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and Cruz was attacking President Barack Obama for not using the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” Kasich was refreshingly humane and upbeat about the country he wants to lead. For example, when he was asked about his opposition to same-sex marriage, he said, “The court has ruled, and I said we’ll accept it. …. [Just] because somebody doesn’t think the way I do, doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or can’t love them. … We need to give everybody a chance, treat everybody with respect and let them share in this great American dream that we have.”
No great big walls. No carpet-bombing swaths of the Middle East to “see if the sand glows” (Cruz). No lockdowns of people who happen to be Muslim (Trump).
Kasich also has the political experience that his competitors lack. Trump has never held elected office. Cruz is a freshman senator who has not shown an ability to work well with others. Kasich was first elected governor of Ohio in 2010. Before that, he spent 18 years as a member of Congress, including six years as chairman of the House Budget Committee. And, as he constantly reminds us, he can and has, when necessary, worked well with Republicans and Democrats.
In any other year, Kasich would be considered an extreme conservative. This year, he is the only Republican left in the ring that we would trust to have his finger on the nuclear button. Or to respect American institutions, including a free press. And his vision of America is the only one among the three remaining Republicans contenders that we can recognize as America.
In the upcoming primary, we urge those who will vote Republican to vote for John Kasich.