Kasich’s push for unity: UMD’s experts discuss bipartisan political system

Courtesy of Wikipedia

After running a failed campaign in the GOP primary, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been finding other ways to make himself relevant on a national scale by taking a stand for political party cooperation.

“I welcome the fact that people will criticize me for putting my country ahead of my party,” Kasich said in an interview with CNN on Sept. 16.

Kasich recently received attention for his agreement to help President Obama push the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress.

TPP is a pact aiming to deepen economic ties between 12 countries (the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Peru, Chile and Brunei) that plans to cut tariffs and foster trade.

Leaders of TPP member states, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Leaders of TPP member states, via Wikipedia

TPP has been an issue of contention within both major parties. In fact, the list of politicians that oppose the partnership includes Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

While this is not an issue that is wholeheartedly supported by either party, Kasich used this moment to question why both Democrats and Republicans let their loyalty to their party trump their loyalty to their country.

“In this case, Kasich is putting a shot across Trump’s bow,” University of Maryland government and politics professor Donald Kettl said. “The Ohio governor is taking a pro-trade internationalist position at a time Trump is arguing against free trade.” 

When asked about his criticism of the TPP in the Fox Business/Wall Street Journal primary debate in November 2015, Trump said the deal was so complex that “nobody’s read it.”

“The TPP is horrible deal,” Trump said. “It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone.”

Courtesy of Giphy.com
Courtesy of Giphy.com

Kasich’s presidential campaign focused on uniting the country rather than dividing it. He presented a positive outlook on the future of America, especially when compared to Trump.

Washington Post opinion columnist Catherine Rampell said this is why his campaign was unsuccessful: Instead of drawing attention to party divides, he was aiming to bring everyone together, country before party.

“It seems that for most politicians, party has trumped policy,” government and politics associate professor Stella Rouse said. “The goal is party messaging in order to gain or maintain power. The strategy to doing this is by each party differentiating itself from the other side. The electorate seems to agree with this strategy and goal because they do not demand… that the parties work together.”

Rouse added that politicians have convinced themselves that adhering to their civic duty does not win elections, and that partisan media perpetuates this.

“My view is that leadership is part of the job description for our elected officials,” government and politics professor Michael Hanmer said. “It means working to solve problems and worrying about more than one’s own electoral chances or the party’s electoral chances.”

Courtesy of Giphy.com, CNBC

Sophomore government and politics major Tyler Ziegler commented further on the nature of elections.

“Elections can very rarely be won based on merit alone, and almost every member of Congress relies on the resources of their party, so it behooves them to identify with their party platform,” Ziegler said. “At the end of the day, their civic duty is a balance between what is best for their constituents and what is best for the nation and often the two clash.”