Special Essay: A Democrat’s Case for Voting for a Republican for President

Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

I’m just going to say it: I am a life-long Democrat. I grew up and now live in Massachusetts. If I lived in New Hampshire, I would want to cross party lines and vote for John Kasich for president. (New Hampshire law would prohibit me from defecting to vote in the GOP race). Let me go even further: If John Kasich somehow wins the Republican nomination, I won’t hesitate to choose him November 8th regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. [Jaws drop to the floor.]

The reason is fairly simple but needs a preface to fully understand it. I do not, repeat, do not vote for someone just because they have a “D” after their name.  I choose would-be office holders based on their qualifications, experience and if they share my ideological values—or at least as close as possible.

I am disenchanted with the Democratic choices. I like Bernie Sanders. He seems like a nice man. He has had some serious guts to have been an independent Socialist all these years. His enthusiasm is infectious.

However, I don’t share his socialist views. He rebranded himself a “Democratic Socialist” to run for president, enrolling as a Democrat just last year after a career of bashing them. In my mind, there is a difference between a Democrat and a Socialist. A Democrat believes government has an important role in our society and in our economy to make sure everyone has a fair chance at thriving; a leveling of the playing field.

A socialist believes government should control much of our society and our economy. In that sense, Sanders makes promises that simply are not realistic or if they are, would ruin the economy (much like Republicans have done). Free college for everyone? Super! Single-payer health care? Outstanding! Not going to happen, people. Simply not going to happen. If he became president, Sanders would have no solid base in Congress to work with (think Lowell Weicker in Connecticut).

In this past week’s debate, Sanders was frighteningly unprepared for foreign policy questions. I am also uncomfortable with his votes against the Brady Bill (I am not persuaded by his “rural state” explanation. Deer hunters and target shooters don’t need AK’s). His vote to give gun manufactures immunity from lawsuits also doesn’t sit right. Nor does what happened to the Veterans Administration when he was chairman of the Veterans Committee.

For the first time since I started voting, I am turned off to a candidate because of his supporters (and I’m not talking about the real loons. I’m talking about average backers). Perhaps it’s just because of social media, but it’s apparent to me that on Facebook and Twitter, Sanders supporters for the most have a self-righteous, condescending, holier-than-thou arrogance that is off the charts. “How dare you question whether Bernie is a Democrat” is a common theme. Feelin’ the Bern? I took an antacid. I’m good.

Hillary Clinton has the résumé to be our next president. She could be the first female president and perhaps do a wonderful job. That’s not enough for me. I just don’t trust her. I think her entire career and life has been designed to get her to presidency. That bothers me. The emails bother me. So does her flip-flop on TPP, her accepting millions from Wall Street (the $700,000 speaking fees are troubling) and her lying about Benghazi.

So why John Kasich? In this day and age of extremists leading the respective races, Kasich is quite simply, reasonable. It really is that simple. He’s experienced, accomplished and has the background and temperament to be commander in chief.

Gov. Kasich has been in the trenches and doesn’t hesitate to work with Democrats for the good of the country. In Congress, Kasich played a key role in balancing the federal budget, a spending plan signed by Bill Clinton.

What Kasich has done in Ohio is nearly miraculous. When he took over in January of 2011, the state was on course for an $8 billion deficit. Now it, has a multibillion dollar surplus. To put that in perspective, Massachusetts was dealing with a shortfall of $1 billion before some adjustments and Connecticut still faces a potentially huge, $1 billion shortfall itself.

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Reversing Ohio’s job loss is also proof of Kasich’s potential. Its unemployment is low, business is thriving, Ohio’s fortunes are increasing.

This is not to say I agree with him on some major issues. He’s too cozy with the NRA for me. He falls short of where I am on abortion (although to be fair, he’s much more reasonable than the extreme views of some of the other candidates including Rubio and Cruz). It’s a turnoff for me that was a part of the Republican establishment while serving in Congress.

Whenever Kasich is on stage with the other Republicans, he is the adult in the room. His vulnerability in the GOP primary field is exactly why I would vote for him. Primaries, by definition, play to the extremes of each party. Other than Kasich, Republicans are engaged in a race to the whack-job right. Similarly, Sanders and Clinton are locked in a battle for the fringe left. Like Bill Clinton, triangulation will be the effort from each nominee. Unless of course the nominee is someone who hasn’t been yanked to either fringe.

When it comes down to it, I can’t vote in the Republican primary here in Massachusetts (and no, I’m not changing parties. I am a Democrat through and through). My Democratic choice is Hillary. I’ll vote for her over Bernie Sanders in the primary. I’ll also vote for her if the Republican nominee is anyone other than Kasich.

I long for the day when candidates are chosen based on the quality of their experience, their realistic goals, their vision for the country. That’s not the Socialist, it’s not the ethics-challenged “it’s-her-turn, because-she’s-a-woman” Democrat. It’s the accomplished and reasonable Republican moderate. It’s John Kasich.