Thursday, July 21, 2016

Kasich's Refusal to Attend GOP Convention -- You Say "Sore Loser"; I say Personal Commitment


In a recent editorial, Frank Lewis of the Portsmouth Daily Times expressed an opinion that I have heard from many other people about Governor John Kasich's refusal to attend the GOP convention and his stubborn resistance to dropping out earlier in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy.

Lewis said, “Kasich looks like the classic case of a sore loser and someone who does not keep his word if it doesn’t benefit him, and that is not the description of a leader.”

I want to take this opportunity to disagree respectfully with Frank Lewis and his evaluation of John Kasich's actions.

I understand the logic of people who take a position that Kasich is a “sore loser.” That is a common reaction to anyone who takes a strong stand of protest through non-participation. And, yes, the convention is being hosted in the governor's state. Perhaps Kasich might have extended some form of courtesy to the party without his actual participation.

Yet, so-called “winning and losing” must be judged by certain conditions that can make both perfectly acceptable. The most effective form of nonviolent protest involves strong will and a firm commitment to conscientious beliefs – an unyielding stand for substance over party in this particular case.

Yes, Kasich and other candidates did vow to support the Republican nominee for president, and true, Donald Trump gained the nomination.

However, to me, breaking of that vow seems to have been precipitated much more by Donald Trump's incessant name calling and degradation than by John Kasich's insincerity. For example, Trump stated this about Kasich: “What people don’t know about Kasich -- he was a managing partner of the horrendous Lehman Brothers when it totally destroyed the economy!”

Also, Donald Trump falsely claimed that while he has had “55,000 negative ads” run against him, and John Kasich has “never had one negative ad against him.” In fact, Trump himself ran an ad in Ohio attacking Kasich. It ran 755 times.

Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, criticized Kasich, who trailed in third place, for staying in the race. Kasich, meanwhile, Trump pointed out that he, not Trump, beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in polls on a hypothetical general election matchup.

According to a Real Clear Politics average of polls from March 24 to April 14, Clinton led Trump nationally by 9.3 percentage points, while Kasich led Clinton by an average of 7.8 percentage points.

Trump says that’s only because Kasich hasn’t been tested yet with negative ads, a point he made during a rally in Ocean City, Maryland, on April 20.

“As far as Kasich is concerned, he will get slaughtered by Hillary,” Trump said. “He’s never had one negative ad against him. I’ve had 55,000 negative ads. Kasich hasn’t had one negative ad. As soon as he has the first 10 ads against him, he will drop like a rock, believe me.”

Trump repeated the claim in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show the following day (at the 40-second mark).

“I’ve been hit by 55,000 ads,” Trump said. “I saw it on your show, 55,000 negative ads, and nobody else has. You know, you look at a guy like Kasich. He’s never been hit by an ad because nobody cares, frankly. No, it’s true. It’s so true.”
(Robert Farley. “Trump Wrong About Ads Attacking Kasich.” April 22, 2016.)

During the campaign for nomination, John Kasich fought hard to be the candidate with optimism. He often spoke of substance and logic amid other candidates' bickering attacks. He made consistent efforts to bring real political experience and a good track record to the fore. Governor Kasich strongly disagreed with Trump on many issues, and he sincerely believed Trump's toxic tone would hurt the nation. With strong determination, he held out hope that a contested convention might point to his candidacy.

Even after he met continued opposition, Kasich still held hope that the GOP would listen to reason … his moderate view. And, it is true that Kasich did finally declare Trump was not prepared to be president of the United States, but this is still a claim held by millions of Americans.

So, in March, Kasich's opinion began to change. In a town hall with NBC News' Chuck Todd, he said "I have two 16-year-old twin daughters. And if he (Trump) happened to be the nominee, I would have to tell them why I would endorse him if I did.” Some time after that, Kasich decided not to endorse Trump and not to attend the convention.

If you judge Kasich harshly by his absence in Cleveland, you must also apply that judgment to others. Former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush plus recent Republican presidential nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney are on a “no show” list that reads like a role call of the party's “Who's Who.”

Lewis writes in his editorial …

“I have met John Kasich on several occasions and found him to be, while intense, a very kind and thoughtful man. When he announced for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, I felt he was the most qualified in the Republican field. He took a state that was, for all intents and purposes, going broke, and turned it around. He cut taxes and raised revenue and jobs came back. It was a great formula.

“Then, out of nowhere came a side of him I frankly had never seen. His insistence upon staying in the race when he had no chance and even advocating for some kind of Trump take-down at the convention made me question my views of his leadership qualities.

“Now, the icing on the cake is his abject failure to make an appearance at the Republican National Convention in one of Ohio’s greatest cities, Cleveland. It boggles the mind to know he puts his own political ambitions above the people of Cleveland, and yes, the state of Ohio.”
(Frank Lewis. “The good is oft interred...” Portsmouth Daily Times. July 20, 2016.)

I have also met John Kasich and hold him in high regard. I found him to be a leader who took responsibility while spelling out specific, workable strategies for success. I, too, like Frank Lewis, believed him to be “the most qualified candidate in the Republican field.” I felt terrible that he did not get the nod as the GOP candidate.

The difference between my view and the view of Mr. Lewis is that I respect the man for breaking his initial vow of support in the face of such overwhelming, ridiculous acidity from the choice of his party. He is not alone in this decision to protest the nomination of Donald Trump. I agree that Kacich is a politician with ambition, and he may be thinking of his future if and when Trump takes a long political fall. Still, I strongly believe John Kasich is doing what he considers best for his state and for his country, not necessarily what is best for the GOP.

And, I would like to include a little insight on the use of quote from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

Mr. Lewis says …

“This last act may be John Kasich’s legacy and it is unfortunate when you consider all that he has accomplished in both national and Ohio politics, but Shakespeare put it best in Julius Caesar – “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

This quote in question is part of Antony's oration at the funeral of Caesar. Remember, at this point in the play, Antony sarcastically reveals how Brutus has brutally assassinated Caesar and still claims to be an honorable man while doing so. Antony reminds the crowd that Brutus had been “Caesar's angel” who turned upon his loved one with the greatest ingratitude and the “unkindest cut of all.”

The quote in question (Act V) is as follows:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men”

Of course, with this, Antony stirs the crowd to hate Brutus, and the rest of the story, as they say, is theatrical history. And, it is also a history based on fact: Mark Antony successfully turned the tide of Roman popular opinion against the conspirators and, allied with Octavian, defeated the forces of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BCE.

The truth is that Brutus is viewed as the true tragic hero of the play. His decision to enter into the conspiracy to kill Caesar does not originate in ambition but rather in his inflexible belief in what the Roman government should be. His ideal proves too rigid in the political world of the play – a world where one succeeds only through underhanded bargaining – a skill that Antony displays.

Brutus’s mistake lies in his attempt to impose his private sense of honor on the whole Roman state. And, again, history shows in the end, killing Caesar does not stop the Roman republic from becoming a dictatorship, for Octavius assumes power and becomes a new Caesar.

“The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones” is used by Antony as a reference to Julius Caesar, a Roman general who declared himself dictator for life after defeating Pompey who had viewed Caesar as a national threat. Yet, Antony cleverly implies that the same may be true of Brutus, whom Caesar deeply trusted and believed to be honorable. “Good” and “evil” just as “losing” and “winning” are subjective terms.

Shakespeare's theme is that Brutus agrees to kill Caesar because he believes it will be best for the country, while the other conspirators want to kill Caesar because of envy and jealousy. 

Perhaps John Kasich's true intentions in his refusal to endorse Donald Trump and in his refusal to attend Trump's GOP coronation are also motivated by good, honest beliefs. And, just maybe, in a symbolic gesture, Kasich's character assassination of Donald Trump is something he believes may help prevent a threat to democracy. "Evil"? "Good"? Each person must look into his or her own heart, mind, and soul to find answers.


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