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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
by Cory Booker (2016)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Books by and about the 2016 presidential election
What Happened ,
by Hillary Clinton (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Hard Choices,
by Hillary Clinton (2014)
Becoming ,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Two Paths
America Divided or United
by John Kasich

(Click for Amazon book review)

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

Is Kasich running for president in 2020? We read this book with that question in mind, and concluded "yes." Kasich wrote this book after the 2016 campaign (published in April 2017), as an outline for why President Trump should be challenged in the Republican primary, and why Kasich is the man to do it. We'll summarize four themes from throughout this book that all point to that same conclusion.

  1. Two Paths: Uniter vs. Divider The title of Kasich's book outlines the broad strategy of a 2020 challenge. Kasich sees that America must choose between two paths: an America divided (falling to Trump's divisiveness, or the divisive Democratic response to Trump's divisiveness), or an America united (for which Kasich views himself as unique leader, as a moderate with a history of uniting disparate factions). The "Two Paths" title refers to Kasich's speech during the 2016 campaign (reprinted in the current book, pp. 307ff), in which Kasich reviews his 2016 campaign as positive and thoughtful (with additional citations elsewhere in the book of how Trump was negative and thoughtless).

    The view of "two paths" is a nice campaign theme, and Kasich would like America to view the choice as Kasich or Trump. Presumably, if victorious in the primary, Kasich would reposition the general election campaign as Kasich vs. the Democratic nominee, still under the rubric of "two paths" but with a different rationale and that would work rhetorically just as well. But of course, there might be several other paths available during the Republican primary such as Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX), who fought Trump hard in the 2016 primary; or former Senator Jeff Flake (R, AZ), who attempted civility during Trump's very un-civil Supreme Court nomination process; or Senator Mitt Romney (R, UT), who famously endorsed "anyone but Trump" towards the end of the 2016 primary; or former Gov. Chris Christie (R, NJ), who wrote an anti-Trump book himself, Let Me Finish. But a book entitled "Six Paths: Why My Path is Better than All the Other Five" just doesn't work, so Kasich doesn't address those others just Trump.

  2. Absolute truth vs. Post-truth Kasich describes the current political situation in America as a "post-truth environment." Kasich writes, "These days, the space between truth and half-truths and utter falsehoods is almost unrecognizable," (p. 9) referring to President Trump's campaign as well as his administration. Kasich offers an alternative from Scripture: "the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32), about which he details, "The truth, even painful truth, is absolute. There is no path forward without it" (p. 9). Kasich's citation of Scripture here demonstrates another common theme, which Kasich outlines more fully in his earlier book, Every Other Monday, about a biweekly Congressional prayer-group meeting and how prayer and Christianity affected Kasich's public policy decisions. During the 2020 campaign, Kasich will certainly cite his religious convictions towards truth and towards everything else as a major contrast to Trump.

    But Kasich hardly needs to claim that Trump represents un-Godly un-truth President Trump demonstrates that just fine himself, just about every day. Presumably Kasich does so because he wholeheartedly believes that God has called him to present Godly truth to America and to differentiate himself from Trump on those grounds. Astute readers might point out that OnTheIssues details 22 examples of Kasich's not-full-truth in our analysis Kasich: Promises Kept and Promises Broken. But Kasich broke promises generally because he moderated over time, or chose a workable compromise solution a very different class of broken promise over Trump's chaotic "What now?" brand of broken promises (and yes, we intend to produce " Trump: Promises Broken" in 2020).

  3. Kasich vs. Trump: Kasich repeatedly points out that he was the last candidate standing against Trump in 2016. For example, "For less than 24 hours, I was the only mainstream, experienced politician in [Trump's] path to the Republican Party nomination" (p. 173). This seems to us Kasich's weakest argument because most voters hardly remember those 24 hours, after Ted Cruz withdrew and left Trump as the nominee-apparent. Most voters would say, in fact, "Huh? We thought Ted Cruz was the last candidate standing against Trump," and OnTheIssues even wrote a piece about how Cruz could capture the nomination in the second round of the Republican convention, just like Abraham Lincoln did.

    Kasich never endorsed Trump after the Republican primary (which Ted Cruz did, in September 2016). Kasich writes, "I didn't endorse Donald Trump because I couldn't stand in from of [my family] and tell them I supported this man. I could not condone how he seemed to treat women and immigrants and minorities, or the way he looked at the world" (p. 119). That sounds sincere, but if Kasich really meant it at the time, why didn't he stay in the race until the Convention? Gov. Mike Huckabee stayed in the 2008 Republican primary well beyond the point where it had become mathematically impossible for him to beat the nominee-apparent, Sen. John McCain, famously saying, "I didn't major in math; I majored in miracles." Kasich could have said the same and fought Trump until the convention and then could have substantiated his claim of being the last candidate standing against Trump, and could now offer to continue that stand in 2020.

  4. Moderation vs. Extremism Kasich's core policy argument against Trump is that Kasich represents moderate solutions to America's big issues, where Trump represents extreme solutions. Some examples where Kasich clearly contrasts extremism:

    • On Trump's signature issue of immigration reform, Kasich prefers a comprehensive solution, creating a new package of laws that satisfies all sides, rather than Trump's punitive and exclusionary approach and Trump's focus on a border wall. Kasich refers to Trump's attitude on immigration as a "path to darkness" (pp. 233-5), which sees America "broken" by "the other" (meaning, immigrants and minorities).

    • Kasich chooses his battles: while he disagrees with same-sex marriage, he says that the Supreme Court has definitively ruled in favor of same-sex marriage and therefore everyone has to accept it (p. 159). President Trump doesn't oppose same-sex marriage either, but this issue could be a major differentiator from other possible Republican primary challengers, and demonstrates Kasich's willingness to compromise rather than fight every partisan battle.

    • Kasich's signature issue is budget reform, including pushing for a balanced budget for decades. Kasich looks warmly back on the budget surpluses of the 1990s (when Kasich was on the Budget Committee in Congress) as successful reform, and promises that such leadership can happen again (p. 237). Kasich's stance is inherently bipartisan, since the 1990s budget reforms were under President Bill_Clinton (D, AR). While Kasich never credits Clinton, he certainly sounds like a "Clintonite" in his praise of the methods and results!

    • An example of Kasich's application of his budgeting principles appears on pp. 98-9, where Kasich discusses his history as a "cheap hawk" fighting excess spending while on the House Armed Services Committee. This, too, differentiates Kasich from other Republican challengers more than from Trump, but to many liberals and libertarians, this is the most significant mark of a moderate instead of an extremist.

In conclusion, yes, this book outlines Kasich's rationale for a 2020 primary challenge against President Trump. Kasich dislikes Trump's governing style, and sincerely considers that style to be harmful to America. And Kasich dislikes Trump's policy results, and sincerely considers those results to be harmful to America. Those are powerful arguments in favor of running, and we hope Kasich in 2020 really does stand against Trump.

-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, November 2018

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy
    John Kasich: 1995 shutdown on phony budget led to real balanced budget.
    John Kasich: 1990s successful reform and leadership can happen again.
Civil Rights
    John Kasich: Court has ruled on same-sex marriage & we have to accept it.
    John Kasich: Presidents can't solve drug problem; local communities can.
    John Kasich: If we all marched against drugs, we'd win that battle.
    John Kasich: Unfair to shift tax decision from people to school board.
Energy & Oil
    John Kasich: 1978: Citizens Committee on Energy to discuss solar & wind.
Foreign Policy
    John Kasich: FactCheck: Yes, U.S. economy bigger than next two combined.
Government Reform
    John Kasich: Post-truth environment makes us intolerant of other opinions.
    John Kasich: 1979: refused $5,000 raise as State Senator.
Homeland Security
    John Kasich: Focused on excess spending on Armed Services Committee.
    John Kasich: Cutting Pentagon budget doesn't weaken defense.
    John Kasich: 1980s: B-2 didn't make financial sense nor strategic sense.
    Ron Dellums: 1980s: B-2 didn't make financial sense nor strategic sense.
    John Kasich: Work is a good and noble thing, for purpose & satisfaction.
Principles & Values
    Donald Trump: OpEd: Incited violence at rallies starting in 2015.
    Donald Trump: OpEd: Spoke to people's disenfranchisement & disempowerment.
    Donald Trump: OpEd: Make America Great Again by leader being at the helm.
    Hillary Clinton: OpEd: Out of touch with & dismissive of blue-collar workers.
    John Kasich: Democracy rises up from the many, not down from the few.
    John Kasich: Republican Party is my vehicle, not my master.
    John Kasich: The sun is going to rise to the zenith in America again.
    John Kasich: Leaders need vision that excites the team they've built.
    John Kasich: Civilization's enemies seek America's fall.
    John Kasich: Path to darkness is seeing America broken by "the other".
    John Kasich: Cast vote in 2016 presidential race for John McCain.
    John Kasich: America's divided; reunite by thinking bigger than ourselves.
    John Kasich: Focus on common humanity and fix problems where we live.
Social Security
    John Kasich: Fix Social Security: keep the promise.
    John Kasich: Americans now get news from "reinforcing media".
Welfare & Poverty
    John Kasich: Champion the underdog, those discounted by society.

The above quotations are from Two Paths
America Divided or United
by John Kasich.

All material copyright 1999-2022
by Jesse Gordon and OnTheIssues.org
Reprinting by permission only.

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