Colorado College had the opportunity to engage in a town hall-style meeting with Ohio governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich on Nov. 12. Students from CC and U.S. Air Force Academy accompanied Kasich on the Kathryn Mohrman Theatre stage, poised to ask questions. Various topics were covered, including hyper-partisanship, immigration, the opioid crisis, and gun control. Kasich presented conservative-centrist opinions and ideas that differed from the liberal perspectives typically encountered on the CC campus.
Known for being “honest, authentic, and tough,” Kasich began the conversation by saying, “We can all agree that our leaders are not leading.” He urged the crowd to take a “bottom-up” approach to politics and to focus on making positive changes in one’s immediate environment. He also explained his belief that tackling an issue of personal importance is not partisan, as problems addressed by both sides of the political spectrum are worthy of consideration.
Moderators and the general audience asked Kasich questions and his answers provoked mixed reactions.
When asked about gun control laws, Kasich replied, “We should be enraged by the fact that this is not getting done,” which garnered applause from the crowd. A wave of whispers traveled through the auditorium when, in response to a question about the opioid crisis, Kasich said, “Our message has to be to tell people to do fewer drugs.” Overall, while he stated that he would not leave the Republican Party, his centrist viewpoint and belief that both parties have failed suggested that the hyper-partisanship of our current government may not reflect the attitudes of politicians across America.
“The Town Hall was real experiential learning.” said Political Science Professor Elizabeth Coggins, mediator of the town hall. “This was especially true for those students who were able to read about Kasich, including some of his own writing, and think deeply and critically about important questions in today’s political world. For the entire community, I hope attendees feel they got a real life close up look at an important figure in American politics and were exposed to thinking that challenged them.”
One aspect of Kasich’s personality that was unanticipated by many was his lighthearted humor. When asked about his brief time as a presidential candidate he responded, “Well, I didn’t win, or I wouldn’t be here tonight.”
His overall message, however, was serious. Kasich asserts that, in order to experience peace, one must begin progress towards it within one’s own life. Even if a single person can’t change the entire world, by changing parts of it, they can make a difference.