Members of the GOP establishment have repeatedly stated in recent weeks that Donald Trump is not conservative enough. They are undoubtedly correct. In the past few weeks, Trump has endorsed socialized healthcare, funding for Planned Parenthood, a system of tariffs, and a progressive tax scheme; he said today that he prefers attacking his Republican rivals to attacking Hillary Clinton. Trump is forthrightly staunch on immigration, but that’s not the entirety of the conservative platform.
There’s only one problem: many of those willing to disqualify Trump based on his beliefs stand by Ohio Governor John Kasich.
In the last several days, Kasich has repeatedly demonstrated his bona fides for the Democratic presidential nomination. Speaking in New Hampshire, where Kasich has skyrocketed in the polls all the way up to third place, in a virtual tie with Jeb Bush behind Trump, Kasich explained that conservatives need to be “more caring.” An attendee quizzed him on his soft stance on immigration, specifically wondering whether Kasich’s immigration policy would overload the government social safety net. The question has basis in fact, as the Orange County Register reported just yesterday:
Not surprisingly, many of the foreign-born, the source of much of California’s population growth in recent decades, have fared poorly. Only 25 percent of households headed by native-born Californians fall below the United Way “Real Cost Budget” line for economic distress, but it’s 45 percent for those headed by the foreign-born, and nearly 60 percent for families headed by a noncitizen. The highest percentage is among Latino households headed by a noncitizen – a staggering 80 percent fall below the minimal level.
Kasich answered not based on statistics, however. His answer emanated directly from his ET-glowing heart: “No, I think that a lot of these people who are here are some of the hardest-working, God-fearing, family-oriented people you can ever meet.” Of course, nobody asked whether many illegal immigrants are good, God-fearing, or family-oriented. Someone did ask whether illegal immigration created an economic risk. Kasich refused to answer.
But he did answer later, in a different way. He told The New York Times that conservatism needed to be redefined. “Hopefully, in the course of all this,” he said, “I’ll be able to change some of the thinking about what it means to be a conservative.” What does it mean to be a conservative to Kasich? “I think conservatism is about giving everybody a chance, demanding personal responsibility, but allowing people to pursue their God-given purpose.” Practically speaking, Kasich thinks compassion is equivalent to higher levels of government interventionism, as the Times reported:
Asked how he may appeal to Republicans who like him but are uneasy about his support for a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants, support for the Common Core education standards and his expansion of Medicaid in Ohio with money from the Affordable Care Act, he defended himself on each issue. And then he uncorked an impassioned argument about his party’s need to redefine conservatism.
Kasich has made such big government arguments before. He infamously told a major Republican donor in 2013 that he took Obamacare money to expand Medicaid in Ohio because “Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.” In other words, getting to heaven simply requires a bit of the old tax-and-spend.
Kasich also cited Reagan’s expansion of Medicaid in defense of his own. But Kasich is wrong about Reagan and Medicaid, as Ed Meese and Robert Alt explained in National Review back in 2013; they chided Kasich for spending “tremendous capital attempting to convince the Republican majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate that massively expanding the Medicaid program is the right thing to do.”
Nonetheless, Kasich’s “God wants Medicaid expansion” response made enough headlines that Megyn Kelly asked Kasich about his perspective on God and government at the Republican debate last week. Here was Kasich’s ridiculously non-conservative answer:
[T]he working poor, instead of them having come into the emergency rooms where it costs more, where they’re sicker and we end up paying, we brought a program in here to make sure that people could get on their feet. And do you know what? Everybody has a right to their God-given purpose.
Nobody has a God-given right to others’ money, pried from their hands by an intrusive, redistributionist government. But Kasich seems to disagree. Kasich is obviously of the opinion that government can be a force for good. Reagan ran and won on the principle that “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He governed on the principle that “as government expands, liberty contracts.” Not so with Kasich. In his role as Ohio governor, as Matt Mayer of Politico explained:
In four years, Kasich increased state spending by 20%, expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, shifted taxes from income to sales and commercial business taxes, tried to hike taxes on Ohio’s nascent energy renaissance, failed to sustain public sector collective bargaining reform, tripled the number of legal gambling sites from four to eleven, and monitored Ohio’s middling 27th ranked private sector job growth from 2011 to today.
Kasich’s big win in Ohio came from decreased Democratic turnout thanks at least in large part to the bumbling, scandal-ridden campaign of Ed FitzGerald. Governor Scott Walker’s critique of Kasich from 2014 rings true now:
It’s probably not fair to ask the son of a preacher to use biblical metaphors. My reading of the Bible finds plenty of reminders that it’s better to teach someone to fish than to give them fish if they’re able. Caring for the poor isn’t the same as taking money from the federal government to lock more people into Medicaid.
This week, Kasich didn’t just endorse greater government as Godly, he took the incomprehensible position that same-sex marriage is immoral, but that the Supreme Court ruling making it the law of the land ought to be binding, and that religious people ought to attend homosexual weddings. Kasich’s administration has also refused to endorse a bill that would protect religious business owners from being forced to violate their beliefs about same-sex marriages.
Meanwhile, Kasich reached out to the free speech-quashing, divisive, criminality-abetting Black Lives Matter movement. Asked whether Republicans should apologize for saying “all lives matter,” Kasich demurred, then added, “I don’t know about that whole issue; I’m just telling you what we’ve done…And all lives do matter – black lives matter, especially now, because there’s a fear in these communities that justice isn’t working for them. But it’s about balance.”
Why would black lives matter “especially now”? They have always mattered; to suggest a sudden increase in the value of black life implicitly endorses the insulting lie that white America and white police officers have decided to target black Americans. Pandering to the Black Lives Matters extremists – people who boo Martin O’Malley off a stage for daring to say that other lives matter, too – does not qualify you for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.
Critiquing Donald Trump’s conservatism is a worthwhile exercise. So, too, is critiquing Kasich’s. If establishment Republicans want their protestations about Trump to be taken seriously, perhaps they ought to apply the same standards to a man many consider to be a legitimate alternative for the nomination: John Kasich.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.