Not "establishment." Mainstream. The civil war in the Republican party is not about some conspiracy of fat cat bankers and country club members against the rest of us. It's about traditional Republicans against something not exactly new, but always a Republican minority and generally more thoughtful than it is today: a bunch of rigid, dyed-in-the-wool ideologues who would rather be far Right than president.
There's a fanaticism about today's insurgents that just doesn't comport well with the closest thing they have to predecessors in Republican history: principled conservatives like Robert A. Taft and even Barry Goldwater. Ted Cruz, for example, is not the spiritual heir of either. He's something new: somebody who mistakes stubbornness for principle whose reaction to the house being broken into isn't to call the cops or even grab his gun, but to burn down the house.
That's the irony behind the cannibals, as I've begun to think of them- not just red meat conservatives, but those who prefer their steak tartare human- who scornfully dismiss anyone with the slightest deviation from conservative orthodoxy in their resumes as "RINO's" and who see no real difference between, say, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. They're the real RINO's. They have far less claim to be Republicans in any traditional sense than the men and women they so scornfully dismiss for thinking for themselves rather than following some sort of movement catechism.
I have my policy differences with John Kasich. Like Jeb Bush, he supports Common Core, and I am not wild about Common Core- not because it's a national educational standard (frankly, we're becoming so dumb a nation that we could actually use one) but because of the philosophical goofiness that infects some of it and if anything only would add to our status as a nation of befuddled, fuzzy thinkers. But Common Core (though the cannibals don't seem to realize it) is very far from the top of the list of issues with which the next President of the United States will have to deal. Anybody for whom Common Core is a make-or-break issue in a presidential candidate is stone crazy, as they used to say on the streets.
I am more concerned about his running away from the marriage issue. He says that he favors traditional marriage personally, but "the Court has ruled, it's the law of the land, so it's time to move on." Well, yes and no. I happen to agree with Gov. Kasich that selling a wedding cake to a gay couple probably shouldn't compromise anybody 's conscience, and while I'd like to see some flexibility in the law to protect the consciences of people's who do about what i after all, a moral issue to many of us (and personally don't see why a gay couple can't just go to a baker who doesn't have moral reservations about baking them a wedding cake), I can think of more appropriate places to take one's stand. Civility does require members of a diverse culture to make allowances for each other's weirdness. And something pretty fundamental is involved here. More than who is allowed to be married in the eyes of the law or enjoy the rights the law accords married couples is at stake. Even "committed" male gay couples are rarely completely monogamous, and redefining monogamy out of society's expectations of marriage seems to be to be a rather drastic step. Marriage redefinition was never about "equality;" it has always been about achieving social sanction for homosexual behavior and even acceptance of it as the social equivalent of the behavior which defines those relationships by which the race is propagated and families are established. The Court ruled, but ruled stupidly and simplistically, ignoring the real and very substantial issues involved and essentially deciding Obergefell v. Hodges on emotion and shallow rhetoric rather than on the basis of either reason or the law. And that is a big deal. One does not simply "move on" from that.
Still, any modification to Obergefell (or, for that matter, to Roe v. Wade) is realistically going to be made from a reconstituted Supreme Court dominated by justices more interested in interpreting the Constitution than with amending it by judicial fiat, and with the law rather than the popular culture's flavor of the week. Everything about John Kasich's record gives me confidence that as president he would appoint such justices. And it's certainly the case that our polarized society and its overheated politics could stand some quieting down. Kasich is doubtless right in saying that marriage redefinition is neither a viable nor a useful topic of political controversy in the midst of a presidential campaign. It's a subject for the courts; the campaign is about picking a president who will make intelligent and beneficial appointments to the courts.
We could use some cooling down. Even Gov. Kasich's reluctance to hit the hot buttons has its positive side.
I've always liked John Kasich. He's an intelligent man, and in a real debate (rather than the travesties that have been inflicted on us this year among the Republican candidates) is an articulate advocate for the conservative movement. My discomfort with his apparent backing away from the marriage issue- which remains societally crucial despite its admitted inaccessibility to direct political redress- led me to look elsewhere for candidates to support, first to Jeb Bush and then, when he proved unviable, to Marco Rubio.
But now Sen. Rubio is out of it. The other two candidates- Donald Trump and Ted Cruz- are both unelectable; one is a clown and the other is (in the sense defined above) a cannibal. John Kasich is the only representative of the traditional, mainstream Republicanism to which I subscribe remaining. And just as crucial, he's the only remaining Republican candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton in November.
Donald Trump is over half-way to the nomination in terms of delegates. Ted Cruz isn't far behind him- and with the field narrowed, the two of them will split the crazy vote. There is talk of an open convention, of neither Trump nor Cruz managing to get a majority at Cleveland. From a certain perspective, Kasich might be the alternative.
Or not. Perhaps it will be a dark horse everybody can live with. Perhaps the convention will turn to a fresh face who will inject new life into the Grand Old Party and blow Hillary and the tired old Democrats away. Perhaps.
But we can't count on it. My own state, Iowa, has spoken; I cast my vote for Rubio at our precinct caucus. But as it stands, I don't think any of us can just sit back and hope that things go well at the convention.
From this point onward, I'm for John Kasich. We could frankly use a president of conservative instincts and common sense who is more interested in bringing a polarized nation together than with stoking his own ego or eating his own young.