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Kasich and Biden Say the Nation's in Better Shape Than Its Poisonous Politics Would Indicate

Joe Biden and John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich took the stage with former Vice President Joe Biden this afternoon in Delaware to talk about bridging the partisan divide. As WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, though President Trump was rarely mentioned by name, his administration was repeatedly invoked as a challenge to democracy.

Biden said he and his former boss, President Obama, have tried to respect the tradition of giving a new president a grace period to grow into the job. But he said President Trump doesn’t seem to want to understand the checks and balances of government – as evidenced by his attacks on the courts and the press.

Demogogues and desperation
And he said Trump has surrounded himself with people who play on other’s desperation.

“You see these demagogues talking about how it’s just about whatever the majority thinks, riling up people, finding the ‘other.’  Every time there’s a problem: Why doesn’t the guy in coal country have a job? Well, an immigrant. What the hell does an immigrant have to do with the coal problem in southeastern Ohio?” 

Kasich said he’s made his differences with the Trump administration clear. But he also said there’s a message in why people in Ohio and elsewhere were open to Trump’s message.

“People felt hopeless. They thought that the current political system doesn’t work for them. They’re unemployed. They have nowhere to go. And they thought: You know what, all these politicians, forget it. I’m just going to try something different. I’m going to try something new."

Colin Kapernick the Christian
Though they differed on specifics, both Kasich and Biden encouraged people to expose themselves to different points of view. Kasich noted that many of those who have condemned NFL player Colin Kapernick for kneeling during the national anthem have missed a key fact.

“Colin Kapernick is a devoted and serious Christian. … Isn’t that interesting? Now people are going to hear that and say that can’t be true. But the point is, absorb something that you don’t agree with. It’s hard to do.” 

Kasich stopped short of saying that should include alt-right demonstrations on college campuses. But Biden didn’t.

'If you're in safe district and you're a Democrat, they're going to come get you if you try work with those evil Republicans. And if you're a Republican, and you try to say something about Barack Obama that might be positive, forget you.'

“If your idea is big enough, it should be able to compete, and you should be able to listen to another point of view as virulent as it may be and reject it, expose it.”

Both Kasich and Biden said, however, they believe most Americans agree on key issues, from infrastructure to immigration, beyond what our politics would indicate.

Here's more on Kasich on the problem with gerrymandering:

The political percentages of collaboration

Right now, Ohio’s congressional map is drawn up by the political party that controls the Legislature. For the last two decades, that’s been Kasich’s fellow Republicans. He says that’s created “safe” districts that lean so heavily toward one party or the other, that no candidate dares to try bipartisanship.

“When people have a competitive race, they’ve got to listen to both sides. If you’re in safe district and you’re a Democrat, they’re going to come get you if you try work with those evil Republicans. And if you’re a Republican, and you try to say something about Barack Obama that might be positive, forget you. Hug him? Oh my goodness!” 

Kasich acknowledged that’s led some Ohio Republicans to sharply criticize him, which, he said he doesn’t like, but isn’t bothered by.

Biden says a majority of Americans agree on issues ranging from immigration to infrastructure, but the political system doesn’t recognize that. 

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.