In his speech at the Women's National Republican Club, John Kasich basically outlined the moderate alternative to the front runners. And by moderate, I don't mean compared to the front runners. I mean moderate in the sense of Joe Scarborough, John McCain, or Mitt Romney. That is, hold onto certain key economic principles like low taxes and a strong military...and chuck the rest.
The essence of his speech, despite what the NYT headline says, was not to channel Reagan, but to deify the 90s, when he and everyone else, who apparently weren't worried about polls and were all about harmony and compromise, were building the greatest decade ever, with money and security and happiness everywhere. Yes, he referenced Reagan some, but usually as a person. It was noteworthy that he spent most time discussing the 90s, even if he occasionally gave a nod to Reagan in the process.
Kasich's primary target was not Hillary, or Sanders, or the Democrats or liberalism. It was [Republicans] "clinging to the past" who were being snookered by fear and paranoia, hatred and bigotry. He condemned the calls to halt Muslim immigrants, to push through religious freedom bills in Mississippi, and to point out the dire straights in which America finds itself.
In fact, while he conceded that we have issues and problems, even significant ones, he turned around and praised just how wonderful America is, how great things are in the big picture, and how promising it will be if we all just learn to live together.
OK. Basically, no problem with anything he said. On the surface. I don't care for the call to ban Muslims, nor do I believe a wall along the border will do any good. I do support religious freedom bills, because of where I see the alternative heading (more on that in a few). And you don't want to succumb to fear, to miss where things are working, or to refuse to give credit where it is due.
And I also realize that Mr. Kasich is a politician. This is the primary season, and his main opponents are on his own team. Likewise, he will elevate the 90s to the decade when God was in charge since that was the high point of his own political career. Despite some of his accomplishments in Ohio, there have been set backs as well. And as for his much proclaimed healthcare reform, either he hasn't implemented it yet, or we haven't seen the benefits. So focus on the 90s and that legendary balanced budget.
But my problem with his entire presentation was that it reeked of moderatism. That is, not moderation, or even compromise. It reeked of that same problem that haunts moderate Conservatives in the same way it haunts liberal Americans and Europeans on the international stage. That is, liberal Europeans, as I have said before, believe that white, European and American, heterosexual, Christian men are the manifestation of all evil and the singular cause of suffering and problems in the world. As a result, when something like radical Islam (or Islam as a whole), or Communist China (or Cuba), or any other culture or civilization or demographic seems to be threatening, the Left retreats and imagines that the only real cause of the problems must be conservatives who refused to denounce our heritage and refuse to compromise, since clearly everyone else merely wants to smoke the peace pipe and give peace a chance.
Moderate Republicans are the same on the national front. In addition to sometimes seeing global affairs the way of the Left, they see domestic issues the same way. Only this time, the enemy is those other Republicans who are 'clinging to the past', embracing all of the bigotry and hate and stupidity that non-conservatives accuse them of harboring. Everyone else, on the other hand, just wants to smoke the peace pipe and give peace a chance. Compromise will abound. We will all just agree to disagree and live in harmony and buy the world a Coke.
Of course these views are fundamentally flawed. It seems almost incredible to liberals, or those who compromise with the liberal narrative, to believe that Communist China or the Islamic world actually don't want to end up being just like a liberal, Western civilization. That's not the vision they have. Likewise, it appears just as unbelievable to the moderate Conservative that not all liberals just want to get alone and live in peace. To them, it's impossible to imagine that some might want to ruthlessly oppress and eradicate any opposition to their superior values and ideas.
As a result, Kasich, in channeling this brand of moderatism, appears as if he believes the only real mischief today is Trump's and Cruz's followers. When it comes to all other groups, everyone is just itching to get along, so if we compromise on our side, such as over issues like Gay Marriage, no doubt those to the left of center will compromise as well.
This isn't to say all Muslims want to conquer the world, or all liberals want a Leftist totalitarian regime. It is to say that Muslims and Liberals might be slow to recognize the problems in their own demographics until it is too late. It also is to say that there are those who are Muslim, and who are progressive, who want just that. And the moderate Conservative's inability to look past the sins of his own demographic seriously compromises his ability to ultimately protect liberty and freedom from their machinations. Just like one of the greatest threats to safety and security today is the American Left's refusal to look at the evil thriving within Islam and call it out and demand the same stark condemnations from the Islamic world, simply because they can't believe a civilization not rooted on the Western Tradition could be capable of anything so heinous as desiring world domination.
That's why, as we witness one of the most sustained campaigns against basic First Amendment Rights since the Bill of Rights was ratified, it's unlikely we could trust someone like Kasich to protect those jeopardized freedoms and liberties. Not because he wants to see them eroded. But because he appears to embrace the modern way of imagining that, in the end, the only real threats to our well being must be at the feet of my own demographic. If we could just get our team in order, then the rest of the country and the rest of the world would fall into line and we would all live happily ever after. A more flawed understanding of reality I can't imagine, nor could I imagine supporting someone who embraced that flawed understanding of reality except under the most grievous of circumstances.