Tag Archives: Kasich

Hoosiers, Of All People, Should Reject Trump/Pence

Well, tomorrow is the Vice-Presidential debate. Those non-Hoosiers who tune in–almost certainly not the “YUGE” number that viewed the Presidential face-off–will get a chance to see what Indiana citizens have been living with for three-and-a-half years. If the Mike Pence who shows up is the Mike Pence who has embarrassed us in prior media confrontations (George Stephanopolis wasn’t the only one), it will give Hoosier Republicans yet another reason to abandon the Trump/Pence ticket.

It’s worth noting that Pence’s wooden and inadequate public performances are the least of those reasons.

Recently, Pence was asked which Vice-President he would model himself after in the event the Trump-Pence ticket prevailed. His tone-deaf but undoubtedly sincere response was “Dick Cheney.”

As a recent post to DailyKos pointed out,

If Donald Trump wins the election, we know two things with certainty: 1) he’ll implement the most racist, xenophobic, militant immigration policy this nation has possibly ever seen; 2) he won’t have the attention span to preside over any other issues of governance.

That’s where Mike Pence comes in and if you haven’t been paying attention to what he’s been saying, you’re not getting the full picture of how wildly non-empathic, socially conservative, science-less, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ and downright scary a “Trump” administration would be.

Now, DailyKos has a lefty perspective, but it is very hard to argue with any of the quoted language.

Those of us who have watched Pence “govern” during what would pretty clearly have been  his single term in the Statehouse have noted his oh-so-“Christian” passions: his determination to de-fund Planned Parenthood (despite the fact that such action would leave thousands of poor women with no healthcare); his seething hostility to the gay community (that one would have been hard to miss); his campaign to fund religious schools with tax dollars taken from the public schools.

His antagonism to science, denial of climate change (and evolution, for that matter), and efforts to have Indiana avoid compliance with environmental rules, have been fairly high-profile.

And since he joined the Trump Train, we’ve learned how sensitive he is to racial issues. (Irony alert.) Asked in an interview about the string of police shootings of unarmed black men, Pence responded

“Trump and I believe there’s been far too much talk about institutional bias and racism within law enforcement”

Translation: Because if we don’t talk about it, people like us who encourage it won’t have to answer these uncomfortable questions.

During the 3 plus years he’s been in office, Hoosiers of both parties have come to recognize the Governor as an ideologue uninterested in the nitty-gritty of public administration, a man whose purpose in running for public office has been essentially theocratic–to use whatever power he can muster to impose his personal religious views on citizens who don’t share them.

During the Presidential campaign, it has become clear that Trump has even less interest than Pence in actually doing the day-to-day work of governing, if he even recognizes what that work entails. When Donald Junior approached John Kasich about the Vice-Presidency, several media outlets reported that the offer came with a promise that, if Kasich accepted, he would be given broad authority over the Executive Branch–essentially, he could run the show while The Donald preened for cameras and indulged his self-importance.

Kasich–being both honorable and in possession of his senses–said no thanks.

Pence–being neither–evidently accepted the bargain.

Enjoy the debate.



Civic Literacy and our 2016 Election Choices

As Indiana’s primary approaches, it’s time to look at the 2016 election landscape as objectively as possible.

None of us is truly objective, of course. I look at the “still standing” Presidential candidates from the perspective of someone who teaches public administration, supports civil liberties, and has had a fair amount of first-hand political experience. I’m also old enough to have some historical perspective. Those attributes, for good or ill, shape my opinions.

It will come as no shock to anyone who has followed this blog that I find all of the Republican candidates appalling. Donald Trump is arguably the most ignorant person ever to win a Presidential primary. He quite clearly knows nothing about the world, the Constitution, about how government works, or policy…And worse, he’s aggressively uncurious about any of those things.

Ted Cruz, a Dominionist, is actually more dangerous than Trump. The term “Dominionism” comes from Genesis, in which God gives Adam and Eve “dominion” over the Earth and its animals; it’s the belief that Christians are biblically mandated to control all earthly institutions until the second coming of Jesus. Sometimes called Christian Reconstructionists, Dominionists like Cruz believe biblical law should replace secular law. Cruz opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest; is unalterably opposed to equal rights for the LGBT community and promises to appoint Supreme Court Justices who agree with him.

Fortunately, neither of these characters is likely to win a general election. Polls suggest that most Americans detest Trump, and even his colleagues in the GOP loathe Cruz. John Kasich would be a far more effective candidate, but not because his policy views are significantly more palatable. He is a hard-right ideologue, but he does actually know what government is and  (at least compared to the other two) exhibits some human compassion.Not enough compassion to keep him from closing all of Ohio’s Planned Parenthood clinics and depriving poor women of health care, but some.

Which brings us to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders–either of whom, despite their flaws, would be massively preferable to any of the GOP candidates.

I have never been a big Hillary fan, not because I believe the rap about her “dishonesty.” (Let’s get real: Republicans have spent millions of dollars for 20+ years throwing everything but the kitchen sink at her–if anything had been there, we’d know it.) My criticism is that she is a defensive and awkward candidate–in fact, she reminds me in that respect of “Poppy” Bush, who was always much more interested in governing than campaigning. As a result, she often doesn’t seem authentic. She is basically a technocrat who lacks Obama’s (and Sanders’) ability to inspire.

That said, she may be the most qualified person ever to run for President. She has seen government from multiple perspectives–from the White House, to the Senate, to the State Department. I don’t agree with every vote she’s ever cast or every position she’s ever taken, but let’s be fair: no one with a resume that long and varied is going to avoid positions with which I disagree.

I initially welcomed Bernie Sanders’ candidacy because I saw Hillary as too cautious on the campaign trail. Without his prodding, she was unlikely to address several issues that, while divisive, needed to be addressed. Despite the fact that their voting records and positions are very similar (she’s always been more progressive than Bill), Sanders pushed her to publicly discuss issues she might not otherwise have highlighted in the campaign.

So what about Bernie? He’s been able to generate lots of enthusiasm. He has raised a limited but important set of issues that we need to be talking about. I tend to agree with him about most of his “signature” issues: we should have universal health care, free higher education, more economic equity. But if lightning were to strike, and Bernie were somehow to become the nominee (of a party he doesn’t belong to, I should note), it’s pretty obvious he would not be able to deliver. As Paul Krugman recently wrote (in a must-read analysis):

On many major issues — including the signature issues of his campaign, especially financial reform — he seemed to go for easy slogans over hard thinking. And his political theory of change, his waving away of limits, seemed utterly unrealistic.

Let me just point to one little-noted difference between Clinton and Sanders. Clinton has spent years and considerable effort helping to elect down-ticket Democrats, and she is continuing to do so. Sanders has not, and recently indicated that if he were the nominee, he wouldn’t bother.

People who understand how our government works (or doesn’t) recognize that we have this pesky system called “checks and balances.” We don’t elect a monarch who gets to wave a magic wand for four years (it drives me nuts when people on the left–evidently oblivious to the degree of Republican obstruction he’s faced–criticize Obama because he didn’t do everything he said he wanted to do).

Elect either Hillary or Bernie–it won’t matter unless Democrats control the Senate and have far more sway in the House. Having great goals and values won’t matter if there is no realistic path to their realization. Civically-literate partisans understand that. (There’s a reason that Bernie’s wins have all come in states that allow independents to participate in the Democratic primary or caucus, while Hillary has won an overwhelming majority of registered Democrats.)

There isn’t going to be a revolution. Perhaps there should be, but it isn’t going to happen.

Americans are stuck with a system that is not working, and we need to put people in charge who know that fixing it requires mastery of boring and annoying details, people who are prepared for a hard, long, maddeningly incremental slog. Like her or not, that’s Hillary.

Bernie may be a one-note Pied Piper. Hillary may be uninspiring. But a President Trump, Cruz or Kasich, abetted by a Republican Congress, would be a disaster from which this country might never recover.

Vote like your grandchildren’s lives depend on it, because they do.



What’s at Stake

Yesterday, the media frenzy was all about Chris Christie’s endorsement of “The Donald.” Of course, there has been something every day–the latest tweet, the most egregious insult, the latest analysis of how someone so manifestly unqualified has managed to get this far…

All of this media attention focused upon Trump–attention that has allowed him to suck all the oxygen out of Republican rooms–has had a number of unfortunate consequences. One of the less remarked of those consequences is that the so-called “establishment” candidates look more reasonable by comparison.

Even Trump can’t make Cruz look sane, but as political observers have pointed out, Rubio and even Kasich are on record taking positions that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. Paul Krugman recently noted aspects of Rubio’s extremism:

[W]hat I do know is that one shouldn’t treat establishment support as an indication that Mr. Rubio is moderate and sensible. On the contrary, not long ago someone holding his policy views would have been considered a fringe crank.

Let me leave aside Mr. Rubio’s terrifying statements on foreign policy and his evident willingness to make a bonfire of civil liberties, and focus on what I know best, economics.

You probably know that Mr. Rubio is proposing big tax cuts, and may know that among other things he proposes completely eliminating taxes on investment income — which would mean, for example, that Mitt Romney would end up owing precisely zero in federal taxes.

What you may not know is that Mr. Rubio’s tax cuts would be almost twice as big as George W. Bush’s as a percentage of gross domestic product — despite the fact that federal debt is much higher than it was 15 years ago, and Republicans have spent the Obama years warning incessantly that budget deficits will destroy America, any day now.

What Krugman failed to note were Rubio’s extreme social policy positions; for one thing, he proposes outlawing abortion even in the case of rape and incest.

Not to be outdone, the presumably more moderate John Kasich recently defunded Ohio’s Planned Parenthood.

These are the candidates whose hoped-for elevation to the highest office in the land is motivating Mitch McConnell and his Senate colleagues to ignore their constitutional duty to consider an Obama Supreme Court nominee. (“Strict construction,” anyone??)

If the Senate Republicans manage to keep Scalia’s position open, the next President is likely to choose three Supreme Court Justices. If those choices are made by any of these candidates, America will be a very different country in short order. And it won’t be a country that most of us will recognize.