With Republican frontrunner Donald Trump holding 744 of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination before the convention, the possibility of a contested convention is becoming more probable. In recent days, various names have been floated as potential white knights who could swoop in and save the Republican party during a contested convention. As names float, power brokers sit and dream of who they can influence to become the nominee. Hmm ... maybe Mitt Romney could become the nominee, or Speaker Paul Ryan or Jeb Bush.
This past Tuesday, Ryan shut the door on his potential nomination this time around — and pushed out a few others as well. “Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination,” stated Ryan.
He then provided clear direction to the convention delegates, “If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only choose a person who actually participated in the primary.”
After narrowing the pool of potential nominees to those who had chosen to run, Ryan turned to his vision of the Republican Party. “I believe we can once again be that optimistic party that is defined by a belief in the limitless possibility of our people.”
Creating “a government,” according to Ryan, “that allows people to fulfill the American idea — that the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.”
So with the increasing probability of a contested convention, and three candidates left in the race — who best reflects this optimistic perspective?
Uber successful businessman Donald Trump, who is currently complaining about the unfair nomination process; second in the field Ted Cruz, a conservative ideologue, who is working the process to gather delegates anywhere possible; or the distant third candidate John Kasich, who has been appealing to people’s highest nature to work together to change America?
Only one of the remaining candidates mirrors Ryan’s call for an optimistic vision of the future: Kasich.
Kasich’s Gubernatorial inaugural speech from 2015 provides a glimpse into how he would lead as president, as a conservative pragmatist who focuses on doing the right thing in an efficient and effective way. His fiscal conservative record, (balancing the national budget and turning around Ohio’s economy), is combined with a love for his neighbor and a mid-western spirit of service.
“Together,” said Kasich, “we’re reaching out to more and more of our neighbors and friends who had been left behind. And we’re giving them a chance to share in the growing prosperity of our state ... we don’t focus on politics. We don’t care about politics.”
It’s the people first, politics second focus, that makes Kasich, who appears to be a political insider, a political outsider.
While other candidates focus on the importance of economic growth, Kasich went one step further to explain why growth is important. “Economic growth is not an end unto itself. Economic growth provides the means whereby we can reach out and help those who live in the shadows. You see, it’s sort of like when Mom and Dad are financially healthy, they can do more to help the kids. But when Mom and Dad don’t have anything, everyone suffers.”
Kasich also explained the importance of refocusing systems. “We took an education system that was fixated on adults and buildings and equipment. We reset our priorities so educators can focus on their calling, which is serving children.”
He even went so far as to refocus from individuals to the common good: “Do we have the courage to take the next steps together? Are we, are we able to think of the common good, of the common good, not just our own personal gains.” But he drew the line at helping versus enabling, “My mom used to always tell me — God bless her — ‘It’s a sin not to help someone who needs it, but it’s equally a sin to continue to help someone who needs to learn how to help themselves.’ ”
Kasich’s combination of fiscal conservative results and empathy for others would make him a formidable opponent to the potential Democratic nominee, either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
While there is a small probability that Kasich will become the GOP nominee, his why: to help others “reach their God-given potential,” makes the possibility intriguing.
Jackie Gingrich Cushman is an author and nationally syndicated columnist.