Kasich Talks Religion, Self-Love, and North Korea at IOP

Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke with David Axelrod at an event hosted at International House on Monday.

By Michael Lynch

Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke with David Axelrod (A.B.’76) at an Institute of Politics (IOP) event hosted at International House on Monday.

Axelrod opened the discussion by asking Kasich to comment on President Trump’s performance over his first 100 days. Kasich criticized Trump for his divisiveness.

“If somebody’s a divider, I’m not interested,” he said.

Kasich went on to say that the public is tired of partisan battles and that this will make people more willing to leave major parties in future presidential elections. “I think it is very possible for somebody who is very wealthy to be able to run as an independent,” Kasich said.

He also suggested that the decline of religion is part of the reason for the partisan fighting he sees in America today. “Big societies cannot run without a sense of transcendence and without a sense of responsibility. All of us need to live a life a little bigger than ourselves,” Kasich said.

Kasich added that this sense of transcendence can be provided by many different religions, and by non-religious philosophies as well.

Kasich raised objections to Trump’s immigration policy in his first 100 days. “If you snuck in here 20 years ago escaping some drug cartel in Mexico but you’ve been working, started a pizza shop or a restaurant and everything has been good since you've been here, the idea we’re going to ship you out of the country…that’s not acceptable to me,” he said.

Responding to a question about health-care reform, Kasich defended the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s expansion of Medicaid. He explained that in Ohio, “We are able to treat the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the chronically ill” because of the Medicaid expansion.

Kasich also argued that the ACA needs fixing, highlighting problems with insurers leaving exchange markets.

When asked about his foreign policy, Kasich discussed, among other things, his belief that the United States should take out the leadership of North Korea by using special forces to “grab them and move them out of that country” and said he thought the U.S. government was already planning this.

“If you don’t think they’re trying to use special forces to remove these people from power,” he said, “then check under your pillow tonight for the money from the tooth fairy.”

Responding to a student’s question about his political career, Kasich attributed his success to a significant amount of both work and luck, as well as confidence.

“You have to like yourself,” he said. “Sometimes it means you have to uncover things that are not pretty or things that happened when you were a kid that you don’t like. But once you learn to like yourself, you will begin to accumulate pretty significant power.”