Column: Supporting moderate conservatives, for symbolism and sanity

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich walks into a town hall campaign stop before next weeks earliest in the nation presidential primary, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Rochester, N.H. (Jim Cole/AP)

Is there inherent futility in throwing support behind a candidate polling far behind the front runners in the 2016 presidential race? John Kasich, the current governor of Ohio, is one of the only “moderate” conservatives vying for the Republican nomination for President.

In an era of American conservatism in which advocating for the restriction of female reproductive rights and restricting the civil liberties of LGBTQ Americans is considered part of core party doctrine, the label “moderate” must be taken with a grain of salt.

On Jan. 30, the New York Times announced its support for Kasich, after endorsing Hilary Clinton’s candidacy as well. The editorial board argued Kasich “is the only plausible choice for Republicans tired of the extremism and inexperience on display in this race.” Living in a time in which questions of futility are often thrown in the face of ideological and symbolic initiatives, supporting Gov. Kasich is a rebuttal of the ceaseless march to the fringes for conservatives. 

During the Republican debate in August, when pressed about Obergefell v. Hodges, Gov. Kasich provided one of the only levelheaded statements to come from the conservative presidential circus. According to debate transcripts from Business Insider, Kasich responded, when asked what his course of action would be if his child were gay, “Look, I'm an old-fashioned person here and I happen to believe in traditional marriage. But I've also said that the court has ruled … and I said we'll accept it.” He went on to say, “I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what? That's what we're taught when we have strong faith.”

Unlike his competitors, Kasich seems to understand both the legal authority of the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as the compassion preached by the religion he professes to follow. 

Though the prospects for the Republican party are increasingly poor, the New York Times’ endorsement of Gov. Kasich is a symbolic recognition of what the future of social politics could be.

The United States will elect a new President come November. The New York Times quoted Kasich’s recent appearance at a town hall event, during which he lambasted his competitors for harping on President Obama, instead of focusing on the future. Earlier in the day, according to the Washington Post, Kasich said “The Republican Party is my vehicle, not my master.”

While other Republican candidates have divided themselves as either establishment or anti-establishment (e.g. Bush versus Cruz), Kasich rightly identified his affiliation, while demanding sovereignty as his own man. 

All politicians are corrupt to some degree, whether placing their personal allegiances, or those of their donors, above their constituents. While, as Mr. Wilde once said, “we are all firmly in the gutter,” the large majority of politicians do not have the clarity of vision or motivation to gaze up at the stars.

Though backing Gov. Kasich is unlikely to boost his campaign in any meaningful way, we must look to politicians who at least express an interest in the future of this nation as a more harmonious place, one which embodies the notion of “e pluribus unum,” not one in which we split and factionalize, as the GOP seems likely to do in coming years. 

Supporting a politician does not guarantee their victory or even a noticeable increase in their support. The drop in the bucket theory cannot become the mindset of voters, especially young voters. According to a recent Pew Poll, Millennials are now tied with Baby Boomers at 31 percent of eligible voters in November. Millennials and the youth do not, on the whole, agree with the anachronistic, Old Testament social views spouted by the fringes of the right and the “anti-establishment” candidates leading the polls.

The power in a voting bloc can only be expressed and utilized with active participation. Supporting John Kasich over the other candidates may only be symbolic, but reminding young voters that it is November’s votes that will win elections, not early polls, is a worthy cause. In that sense, Kasich represents the closest thing to a Millennial-friendly Republican candidate.

Though certain elements of the youth population may find glee in voting for a two-faced bigot, socially, the youth are moving to the left – to the future norm of social matters. Gov. Kasich acknowledged this fact with his concession regarding gay marriage and the Supreme Court.

Though the prospects for the Republican party are increasingly poor, the New York Times' endorsement of Gov. Kasich is a symbolic recognition of what the future of social politics could be with the involvement of the Millennials, a generation awash in political ennui and frustration.


Christopher Sacco is opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.sacco@uconn.edu.