Archive for the ‘John Kasich’ Category

The Fight For Liberty Will Always Transcend Presidential Politics

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

I’ll admit it. I kind of lost it when Donald Trump won New Hampshire this week. I know, the polls showed it was a long time coming. But after Ted Cruz took him out in Iowa, I thought there was at least a chance that someone could repeat the performance and bruise the alleged tough guy’s ego enough to induce Trumper Tantrum part two. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Trump won New Hampshire with 35% of the vote; more than double second-place finisher John Kasich.

This presidential cycle, I’ve written extensively about how anti-establishment instincts are not inherently pro-liberty. If anything proves that from a data standpoint, it’s the fact that Trump won the New Hampshire towns where Ron Paul performed the best in 2012. Sanders also did well in those areas on the Democratic side. Of course, we don’t know how well Rand Paul would have done if he’d stayed in for New Hampshire. But polls showed him hovering around just 4% in the weeks leading up to the race. Dropping out to focus on his Senate race made sense at that point.

Simply put, it’s just not a good year for liberty on the presidential side. But what I needed to remember while I was busy seeing red on Tuesday is how much progress we have made. When Rand Paul dropped out after Iowa, the first thing I did was pen an optimistic piece about how much the liberty movement has accomplished in the past decade, and why there’s so much more to work toward. And as I raged on Facebook post-primary about how I feared my work had helped, even if slightly, to pave the way for the Trump juggernaut, I got a nice reminder that reinforced my typically optimistic outlook.

“Corie, I have about 40 colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus who agree with my principles and positions to a degree I never would have imagined just a few years ago,” wrote Congressman Justin Amash on my status. (How cool is social media, by the way?) “I’ve run openly as a libertarian Republican (without using Ron Paul’s more paleoconservative rhetoric that appeals to Trump voters), have been challenged aggressively, and consistently win by large margins,” he added. (True story; a Chamber of Commerce backed, self-funded challenger tried to take Rep. Amash out in a primary two years ago and failed miserably.) “Things are moving in our direction in the background, even as things get worse in the foreground,” he concluded.

The truth is, Rep. Amash is absolutely right. Congress is in a much better position to fight for reform than it has been in quite some time. And I’ve long expressed my belief that the fight for liberty is largely a generational one. I continue to believe that despite temporary setbacks amid the normal ebb and flow of politics. The vast majority of young Republicans tend to lean libertarian, and there are pro-freedom instincts present among Millennials – it just takes the right messengers to tap into. Some look at the support Bernie Sanders commands from young people and conclude that there’s no hope. He’s a socialist, after all! But it’s a lot more complicated than a cursory look reveals.

As Bonnie Kristian wrote at Rare this week analyzing a Nate Silver piece on Bernie Sanders’ youth support, “Silver argues, Sanders’ success—and Ron Paul’s success among the same Millennial generation—is about how ‘younger Americans view political labels like ‘socialist’ and ‘libertarian’ differently than older ones.’” As Kristian noted however, the data Silver presents shows that Millennials don’t actually like socialist economic policies. As she explained, “In other words, young people continue to be a little bit more left-wing than average, but they drift right with age. What else is new?” And as Kristian noted per Silver’s data, Americans under 30 actually have a more positive view of libertarianism than socialism.

Ultimately, I agree with Kristian’s take here: “Millennials like me have grown into adulthood with an awful economy and constant war. Each new newsday seems to bring yet another report of some secret, dastardly way the government is violating our liberties and trampling the rule of law,” she writes. “Of course, Paul and Sanders aren’t saying all the same stuff, but they are both saying that revolutionary change is long overdue. That’s incredibly appealing to the most politically independent generation ever.”

As Kristian adds, “[T]he good news is that libertarianism could well win out: Even with favorable feelings toward ‘socialism,’ Millennials are comparatively conservative with our money, ready for a more responsible foreign policy, and disinterested in running other people’s lives. That said, there’s certainly work to be done to provide Millennials the economic education they need to match their excellent pro-liberty instinctswith specific pro-liberty policies. But economic education is hardly an insurmountable hurdle—and honestly, simply growing older and taking on more financial responsibilities can accomplish a lot in that regard. In short, Millennials’ political independence is no cause for dismay for anyone except the moribund political establishment we’re no longer willing to support.”

This is all a good reminder that there is a lot to be optimistic about. It’s true that nothing is foolproof and that there are authoritarian strains in our politics to be worried about. But there’s strong evidence that people are fed up with the status quo, and want something different. It’s up to libertarians to explain why our ideas are the best suited to fill the gap caused by a lack of trust in political elites. And we no doubt have a long and arduous road ahead. But as Matt Kibbe, the former president of FreedomWorks and head of a Rand Paul Super PAC recently wrote, “Rand Paul is out – but libertarianism is finally mainstream.”

Said Kibbe: “Rand has seeded another generation of liberty-minded young people, much like his father did in 2008 and 2012. When I was a kid, there was no broad social movement for liberty like we see today. Rand juiced the build-out of this community simply by being on the presidential stage, by offering a compelling alternative to the establishment’s failed foreign policies, and by speaking about civil liberties and the failures of mass incarceration to new audiences that few Republicans have been willing to engage with.”

There’s much to continue working for. As Kibbe said, “Politics is a lagging indicator of social change, and the measure of a social movement is better taken upstream from voter turnout.” As libertarians, I believe we should continue to tap into the dissatisfaction people very clearly and justifiably feel. Now is the time to continue making the case that our ideas are viable. We’ve made incredible progress in a relatively short period of time. Instead of giving up, we should double down and push harder. Libertarian Republicans may have lost the presidential battle this year, but the war no doubt rages on. And the truth is, the liberty movement has more ground troops now than at any point in modern history. As Rep. Amash suggested, I’ll keep fighting.

New Hampshire was a Revolt Against the Status Quo, But It Doesn’t Set an Unbreakable Precedent

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

Sanders 60%, Clinton 38%. Trump 35%, Kasich 16%. This is what happens when voters are so frustrated that they choose the devils they don’t know over the ones that are all too familiar. As someone who cut her teeth politically in the Ron Paul and Tea Party movements, I get the appeal of fighting to stop the establishment. When traditional politicians constantly ignore your concerns, you latch onto alternatives. Unfortunately for conservatives and libertarians, the Republican alternative New Hampshire chose is a vulgar, left-wing, con-man.

Maybe I’m unique for thinking results, not the simple act of poking the giant, matter. I’ve argued before that many people I once thought were part of the libertarian coalition are “anti-establishment” simply for the sake of it, rather than principled in their views. And I get that populism has its own left-right lurches and we may be in an authoritarian pull currently. But while Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won decisively in New Hampshire – a 94% white state with an open primary – I’m not convinced that they’ll be the nominees.

New Hampshire’s primary being the first in the nation and open to independents makes it unique. If only registered Democrats had voted, the margin between Sanders and Hillary Clinton would have been split nearly 50%-50%, as was the case in Iowa. And on the Republican side, Trump attracted a high number of independent votes as well. Moving forward, the majority of states don’t have open primaries, and that will matter; largely benefiting Hillary on the Democratic side. The question for Republicans now is which candidates, if any, are poised to stop Trump?

While moderate Ohio Governor John Kasich eked out what many considered a surprising second place in New Hampshire, it wasn’t unpredicted. Polls showed him doing well, and he staked everything on the Granite State, holding over 100 townhalls and essentially living there over the past several months. While Kasich’s showing is impressive, especially considering he got 1.9% of the vote in Iowa, all signs point to his inability to perform in the next several states, as he’s done virtually nothing to lay groundwork.

This leaves Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, with their 11.7%, 11.0% and 10.6% respective finishes in New Hampshire. Rubio admitted that he diminished the potential of his post-Iowa “Marcomentum” with a strangely robotic performance in Saturday’s debate. That flap probably won’t be his ultimate demise, but the timing mixed with the fact that nearly half of voters were undecided up until the last few days hurt him. Bush still managed to underperform with a fourth place finish after spending $1,200 per voter in New Hampshire. For perspective, Trump spent $40, and Cruz, just $18.

But there’s an argument to be made that Bush has the ground game to absorb both Kasich’s and Chris Christie’s votes in South Carolina and beyond. And if establishment confidence in Rubio collapses, that could have an impact that benefits Bush as well. There’s also an argument that given his strong Iowa and New Hampshire performances, Cruz is the one to stop Trump. This will no doubt irk colleagues who have complained that Cruz is ruthless and impossible to work with. But if it’s true that he’s the only candidate who can piece together enough of the conservative base, which has registered its frustration with the status quo, to stop Trump? In my book, and according to two-thirds of Republicans who say they’d never vote for the braggadocious businessman, that’s a win.

The Democrats are no doubt facing a similar sense of woe as it comes to stopping their version of a hostile takeover in the Sanders surge. Though he’s a Senator who caucuses with the Democrats, Sanders is an independent; and his supporters like that about him. The same question Republicans have about Trump’s viability in closed primaries is what Clinton’s camp is banking on moving forward. While polls do show Sanders gaining on her nationally, Clinton still holds a lead, especially among minority voters. (Though Sanders’ new endorsement from leading black intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates is a blow for Hillary, as is recent support for him from former NAACP chair Ben Jealous.)

Despite these setbacks, Clinton is counting on support from rank-and-file non-white Democrats and older women; something she will likely be able to bank on at the end of the day. And depending on how South Carolina and Nevada, which are scheduled for February 20th, shake out, Republicans may just find the man who can both take Trump out, and as they hope, beat Clinton in November. Bush seems better poised now than he has at any point in the cycle. But Rubio continues to effectively straddle the line between insurgent and establishment, while Cruz rakes in conservative support and continues to court Rand Paul’s libertarian voters, many of whom helped him overtake Bush in New Hampshire.

The Republican side is still an open ballgame, and there is a non-zero chance that independents will once and for all hijack the system and nominate both Sanders and Trump. But more than likely, Clinton will be the nominee, with a Cruz, Bush, or Rubio flanking her during general election debates. If after all the populist noise voters made in New Hampshire, Clinton and Bush are the ultimate nominees, it would be a level of poetic justice that would unite the political elite on both sides of the aisle. But if that happens – and I’m not sure it will – it would be as a result of a much harder fought battle than either of them ever bargained for.

Could New Hampshire become revenge of the Republican governors?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Last week’s Iowa caucus was dominated by the outsiders, as top finishers Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio are, at least by most measures, insurgents with less political experience than their competitors. (I’ve argued that Rubio is actually “stealth establishment,” but he nonetheless pushes an outsider image – and pretty persuasively.)

Even Ben Carson and Rand Paul placed top five in the Iowa caucus while Governors Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie garnered 2.8 percent, 1.9 percent, and 1.8 percent respectively. Paul has since dropped out of the race, Carson is barely registering in New Hampshire polls, and both Kasich and Bush are, to the shock of many observers, now giving frontrunner Trump a run for his money.

As Kevin Boyd wrote at Rare about Kasich, “The second term Ohio governor and former Congressman has staked everything on New Hampshire and it appears it will pay off with a strong finish…. His crowds have gotten larger in the past few days and have become more energetic.”

Bush is also doing better than expected, with new polls showing him in either second or third place. And while a post-Iowa caucus poll commissioned by CNN released Friday showed Rubio gaining on Trump for second place, this bump hasn’t lasted.

Per CNN, Trump maintained his New Hampshire lead with 29 percent, and Rubio gained, with a second place 18 percent. That appears to be changing however, after a nearly universally negative reception to Rubio’s debate performance on Saturday.

While Rubio’s defenders say his performance was simply a matter of “staying on message,” he came across as almost sickly robotic – and Chris Christie called him out during a moment that undoubtedly hurt Rubio’s image and campaign chances.

“Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing,” said Rubio, over, and over, and over again in an attempt to hit the president. In response, Christie pounced, “There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”

Instead of changing course, Rubio repeated the line. Again. And again. Leading to charges that he’s inexperienced, can’t take the heat, doesn’t have much real policy knowledge, and isn’t ready to take on Hillary Clinton, let alone be president himself.

Said Charles Krauthammer, who has long praised Rubio as a new hope:

“I think, (Rubio’s exchange with Christie) really hurt. And of course, the moment that people are going to be remembering is Rubio…. I think that this is a moment when he could have really put away the field, and he has had a great momentum, and this is likely to put something of a brake on his momentum.”

Kasich and Bush are both banking on a strong performance in New Hampshire to justify continuing their campaigns. Kasich has stated that if he doesn’t do well in the Granite State, he knows there’s no future for him. And Bush insiders are preparing for the possibility of Jeb ending his campaign if he doesn’t counter his poor Iowa showing with strength in New Hampshire.

Luckily for the governors, Republican voters in New Hampshire have a history of independent thinking, and don’t always follow the trends set in Iowa. And although Trump is still the frontrunner in New Hampshire, he underperformed his polling in Iowa, and has done very little retail politicking or ground work in New Hampshire.

Kasich, Bush, and Christie on the other hand, have had their noses to the grindstone, meeting voters and shaking hands, even as New Hampshire faces impending blizzard conditions.

After Iowa, instead of heading to the Granite State, Trump elected to go back to New York City. He made an appearance at a New Hampshire diner over the weekend, but Trump is more suited to his arena rallies and towering rhetoric than one-on-one questions from actual voters.

At the primary approaches, New Hampshire remains a shockingly open race. Kasich, Bush, and even Christie could surprise. Or perhaps Rubio and Cruz, who are nearly tied per recent polls will over-perform. It’s still anyone’s guess, but it’s clear that the governors have a chance to shine in New Hampshire that simply wasn’t provided to them in Iowa.

The latest Republican debate marked the end of the Bush dynasty

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Originally published at Every Joe

Put a fork in him: Jeb Bush is done. And the death blow was dealt by the man once considered his protégé, the junior Senator from his home state, Marco Rubio. As I wrote last week, Rubio is blessed with raw political talent. He’s authentic, tough when he has to be, yet ultimately positive and forward-thinking. During the latest Republican debate, his savvy was no doubt on full display.

In an exchange that felt forced, Bush attempted to call Rubio out for his Senate absenteeism. “Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work,” scolded Jeb. “The Senate, what is it? Like a French workweek? You get three days when you have to show up,” said Bush, attempting to land a blow but coming across as both vindictive and nervous. You could cut the tension of the moment with a knife.

“I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record,” replied a cool-headed Rubio, referencing the fact that McCain, who was fully supported by Bush, missed more votes than he has during his presidential candidacy.

“The only reason you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position and someone has convinced you that it’s going to help you,” said Rubio, laying bare what was already obvious: That Bush’s consultants told him to go for Rubio’s throat, he followed through, but it felt grossly inauthentic – and everybody, Bush included, knew it.

“My campaign is going to be about the future of America; it’s not going to be about attacking anyone else on the stage,” concluded Rubio, adding that he continues to have tremendous respect for Bush – ending the exchange on the type of positive note that captures Rubio’s style.

For Bush, there was no coming back from that moment. He behaved like the wounded man he was, incapable of exhibiting the commanding leadership voters seek in a president. Rubio spoke with the authority Bush’s bundlers always hoped the Serious Man with his Serious Record would exude; yet Jeb! has consistently missed the mark.

As Politico reported in the wake of the debate, many of his biggest supporters are frustrated.

Explained one of Bush’s donors: “Going after Rubio that way was just a mistake. No one cares about missed f–king votes in the Senate. Washington cares about that. The media cares about that. And losing candidates care about that. Jeb sounded like he was losing. And Marco made him pay.” Another irked Bush supporter said, “Marco is a [expletive] Jedi master. Hopefully these idiots learn not to [expletive] with him anymore. Not necessary.”

While Rubio had what was arguably the night’s best overall performance, Ted Cruz had a major breakout moment himself. A moment that, particularly to many people familiar with his Senate campaign, was an introduction to a more authentic Ted; a contrast to the canned and calculated version that voters who only know him through his presidential run have been subjected to.

In a statement that prolific pollster Frank Luntz said scored the highest out of any he’s ever seen in the countless focus groups he’s run, Cruz called out CNBC’s moderators for obvious bias in a brilliant fashion that resonated with the GOP base. One by one, he recited each loaded question the moderators had asked the candidates, in order, and pointed out how the bias was obvious.

“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” said Cruz. He then went on to contrast CNBC’s loaded questions with what he described as “fawning” inquiries made to the Democratic candidates in their recent debate hosted by CNN. He then said, to laughs from the audience, that the Democratic debate looked as though it was an exchange “between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.”

While Rubio and Cruz performed the best, other candidates had moments in the sun as well. Carly Fiorina, who has been roundly praised for her past debate performances, had some good one-liners, but didn’t stand out as much as she needs to in order to be a sustainable frontrunner. She remains a sharp messenger, who deployed what I considered to be a perfect explanation of how big government and big corporations work together at the expense of small businesses and the middle class.

“Crony capitalism is what happens when government gets so big and so powerful that only the big and the powerful can handle it,” explained Fiorina. “When government gets big and powerful, the big feel like they need to get even bigger to deal with all that power, and meanwhile, the small and the powerless — in this case, 1,590 community banks — go out of business,” she added, aptly demonstrating how government creates problems then attempts to “solve them,” leading to the type of socialism that tanks economies.

Ultimately, despite her talents, it’s difficult to make the case for Carly as Commander in Chief. It increasingly seems as though she’s running for Vice President, which might just be the ideal slot for her. With a gifted female communicator like Carly on the ticket, Republicans will be able to better weather some of the inevitable “War on Women” attacks Hillary will ultimately use against the eventual nominee.

Rand Paul, the resident libertarian Republican, had a good moment when he explained how the Federal Reserve exacerbates the income inequality Democrats claim to oppose so strongly. But he was given the least amount of time, didn’t jump in during moments he could have landed a blow, and simply continues to struggle in debate settings. Rand, whom I admire greatly, is cerebral. He performs better on the Senate floor, filibustering budget deals and surveillance schemes, than he does in settings conducive to soundbites.

Christie and Kasich both played the role of Governors with tangible records to run on who aren’t Jeb Bush, and Christie’s personality shined. But neither seem to be gaining traction with voters. People looking for Washington outsiders still appear to be more fascinated with Trump and Carson than the governors, while Cruz, Rubio, and Paul all make good choices too, given their tea party election pedigrees.

As for Trump, he seems to have calmed down somewhat underneath the waning glow of his fading star. Carson is now beating him in Iowa and even in some national polls, and the case for Trump is increasingly difficult to make as undecided voters start looking for more substance. This is why I ultimately think Carson, who offers little in the way of policy knowledge, will fade too, with voters turning to the two men I believe will come to lead the field: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

It’s too early to know for certain, but both Rubio and Cruz seem to be peaking at the right time. Cruz arguably has a stronger ground game than Rubio, but Rubio is better suited to become the establishment’s compromise choice. After all, recent reports show that President Bush, whom Ted worked for nearly two decades ago, isn’t a particularly big fan of him.

Ultimately, Cruz will lead with hardcore grassroots voters, and he’s counting on earning the support of those who have flirted with Trump and Carson. But the establishment tends to prevail to at least some extent, and Rubio, as I noted recently, is the perfect stealth-establishment, consensus candidate.

Expect the ultimate battle to be between Rubio and Cruz – which will be fascinating seeing as they’re both first term Senators. That certainly takes the wind out of the Republican refrain of old about Obama’s inexperience. But today’s political climate simply isn’t favorable to the Old Guard; a large part of why this debate marked the end of the Bush dynasty.

Ohio voters might legalize marijuana over their presidential candidate Governor’s opposition

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Originally published at Rare

Ohio governor and presidential candidate John Kasich will be tested politically when voters in his home state get a chance to legalize marijuana through a ballot referendum this November.

Kasich has long opposed illegal drug use of all kinds, and said just months ago that he is still deciding whether he supports federally prosecuting states that allow recreational weed use.

“If I happen to be President,” said Kasich to conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt this past April, “I would lead a significant campaign, down at the grassroots level, to stomp these drugs out of our country.”

How much support such an effort would garner is questionable, seeing as the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization.

Nevertheless, Kasich went on to detail the scourge of heroin, and implied that all illegal drugs, marijuana included, are just as dangerous – though this claim has been disputed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Kasich concluded by telling Hewitt that despite his general respect for states’ and voters’ rights, he might follow the Christie and Rubio path of pursuing federal action against states that have decided to legalize. On the other hand, it’s still possible that Kasich will emulate Cruz and Paul, who believe states should choose whether or not to allow recreational and medical marijuana use.

As for his own state of Ohio however, Kasich plans to fight legalization tooth and nail.

Through his press secretary, Kasich informed National Journal that he is opposed to the upcoming Ohio constitutional amendment vote in question.

As The Daily Beast’s Betsey Woodruff noted however, Kasich may find some unlikely allies in his battle. This is because the constitutional amendment question, drafted by advocacy group ResponsibleOhio, is a very restrictive measure that critics say is driven by cronyism.

As Woodruff reported, “(The amendment) only allows for 10 pot farms, in specific geographic locations. And—big surprise!—the companies that own those farms are the major investors in the legalization campaign.” This has irked legalization advocates who believe the marijuana market should be open to any entrepreneur eager to participate.

Of the Ohio constitutional amendment, the president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Tyler Henson said: “When you have only 10 growers to supply an entire state with such a large population as Ohio, there is bound to be price-fixing and collusion. You can’t stop that.”

While the anti-market aspects of the amendment are disappointing to many cannabis advocates, the initiative is particularly noteworthy because if passed, Ohio would be the first state to go from a full ban to complete legalization without an interim medical marijuana law.

As for Governor Kasich, his office has been unclear as to exactly what measures they would pursue to combat the law if passed. “Let’s have that discussion when there’s not an if,” his press secretary stated, implying that the governor’s current attention is fully focused on fighting the amendment’s passage. As Eric Garcia at National Journal noted however, “The ballot initiative could thrust marijuana further into the spotlight in the primary race.” Garcia went on to say:

“Kasich has at times shown a tendency to back down when voters push back against him, as was the case with a referendum against his stripping of collective bargaining rights for public employees. But in a ballot referendum right before primary season starts, Kasich may be split between listening to voters in his home state versus voters in Iowa or New Hampshire.”

Kasich has positioned himself as a moderate, embracing Medicaid expansion in his home state, and engaging in permissive if not positive discussions about marriage equality.

He has thus far, not staked out a similarly moderate position on marijuana, but political pressure could change that. Looking toward the future, 68% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 support full marijuana legalization.

Whether Kasich and other Republicans will evolve with the times on this issue is yet to be seen.