And join the Democrats. Like many RINOs, he wears the robes of the GOP, but dines, parties, sleeps, baths, weeps and laughs in the home that the Donkey built.
I've noticed when this clear and obvious point has been brought up, many point to the only clear reason for such a shift: TRUMP! The same reason is given when others who have cleaved unto the modern/progressive way while still holding a conservative name tag are explained. In religious circles, you might think of Southern Baptist ethics guru Russell Moore.
Here's the thing. In many cases, their swings to the left began long before Donald Trump even threw his hat in the ring. Moore had dumped the conservative way when the winds swung against Bush and the Conservative Coalition all but disintegrated in the disastrous 00s. Already, by 2010, he was mocking those tired old culture warriors and their obsession with Christmas scenes. At the same time, he was an honored guest at the Obama White House and had every reason to believe that invitation would extend to the inevitable Clinton Administration as well.
The same is true for John Kasich. Kasich was, in fairness, known for his ability to reach across the aisle. Plus, he's from Ohio. Despite our zeal for the now canceled sport of football, Ohioans are generally a moderate lot. We don't like too much fanaticism. Kasich fit that mold well. A conservative, he was one who helped forge that budget plan so often handed to Bill Clinton in terms of credit.
But his swing to embrace the political left, while obvious and visible from Pluto, has nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with his failed attempt to be a mini-me version of Scott Walker. I think we can remember when Scott Walker stood up to the Unions back in the day, and incurred - and survived - the collective wrath of the nation's Leftist juggernaut.
Seeing that and being a good old conservative, John Kasich tried to do the same thing here in the Buckeye State. And it didn't work. I don't know why and can't comment about the reasons, but when the dust settled, Kasich had a loss in his column, and was sent scurrying home with tail tucked firmly between his legs.
Again, I don't know why he failed. I don't know why it didn't work out with him emerging as Walker did as the great Conservative Hero. But he didn't. And it was shortly after that he began to swing ever so gingerly to the left of center. From softening up and eventually supporting Gay Marriage, to beginning to critique Conservative approaches to government spending, to reaching out with a greater sympathy for a centralized welfare state as the solution to our problems, and the occasional dig at those hardcore right wing types and their obvious nastiness, Kasich was sounding more like a mini-me McCain before Trump ever went down the escalator.
Like many 'get me out of here and off to the liberal parties' brand of Never-Trumpers, I've often had the hunch Trump was merely his excuse. But then, again, he had already begun the shift before Trump. Trump just allowed him to make it official and wear on all sleeves his disdain for the Right, Conservatives, and all they value while cheering and celebrating almost everything left of center. Therefore, his honored position at the DNC is about as shocking as OSU throwing football under the bus in the days of Covid-19.