John Kasich, former governor of Ohio, who championed legislation seeking to cripple unions and signed some of the most restrictive abortion legislation the country has ever seen, spoke this past week about how president-elect Joe Biden should appeal more to the center-right and conservative citizens of the nation. He stated, “The Democrats have to make it clear to the far left that they almost cost him this election.” This approach to appeasing the most reactionary voices in American politics is nothing new and isn’t going away anytime soon. However, it’s also a losing political strategy that will harm the whole country. The Democratic party and the Left should reject it entirely.
Joe Biden is by no means going to be the leftist voice many socialists want him to be or most right wing pundits fear he could be. He’s a moderate-to-conservative Democrat who wants to unify the country through bipartisanship. It made sense then that he allied with Kasich during the election. When the Democratic Party invited Kasich to speak at the Democratic National Convention (with a primetime slot!), it was an effort to reunite the country under a centrist, neoliberal model.
The election results revealed that this strategy failed, despite Biden’s win. Elected officials such as Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and voter protection groups in Georgia like Fair Fight, New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, just to name a few, were the ones that helped Biden win in key swing states. The pathetic, sexist, anti-worker, conservative drivel that helped John Kasich get nowhere in national politics also failed to deliver a victory to Joe Biden in Ohio. For him to then claim that he and other moderate Republicans should be taken more seriously instead of the ‘radical left’ is irresponsible and, if heeded, will lead us to a reactionary force worse than Trump.
Reformist policies like guaranteeing a living wage, Medicare For All, student loan forgiveness, and job creation programs, all grew in popularity over the last four years. In Florida we saw the $15/hr. minimum wage legislation passed even though the state went red for Trump. Every Democrat in the house who supported Medicare For All won re-election. Even things like legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing drug use passed in a not insignificant number of states. Policies that establishment Republicans AND Democrats have failed to get behind are being seen by a majority of people as the best paths forward. If Joe Biden doesn’t get on board, he’ll be signing his own death warrant.
According to Kasich, however, Biden should instead appease the exact Republicans who stood in his path to victory against Trump in this election. Voter suppression in Georgia didn’t happen under Democratic leadership and it was only defeated by Left-wing and liberal activists, specifically Black women. The only thing moderate Republicans did over the past four years was make sure voter suppression stayed strong and the most reactionary and conservative policies got through. Kasich must understand that if his greatest goal the past four years was to get Trump out of office, then he shouldn’t have helped to create the conditions which made his election possible in the first place.
If history shows us anything, Biden will be middle-of-the-road in a way that won’t satisfy the Left or the former Governor of Ohio. But one thing is for certain, if we want to guarantee that another Trump isn’t elected the left must push back against liberalism and bipartisanship. Socialist and left-leaning politics are popular, growing, and will have greater successes in the coming years. Appealing to the center will only satisfy the political establishment and elites of both parties, those so far removed from the political process that voting seems even pointless to them. As Marx said, “We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you.” With that spirit, we never need to hear from John Kasich, or from the Democratic Party establishment, ever again.