Former Ohio Governor John Kasich may have run as a Republican, but that isn’t the main way he chooses to identify himself.
“I’m an American more than anything else,” he said in an interview with The Miami Student. “I want to be respectful to people who are in the Republican Party; it’s my vehicle, but it has never been my master.”
Unlike many other politicians, Kasich isn’t afraid to break from his party and is one of the only prominent Republicans who expressed support for the impeachment inquiry.
Kasich spoke about his background and explained the impact ordinary people can have during a lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Miami University Hamilton campus.
The speech was part of the Harry T. Wilks Distinguished Lecture Series, which has brought a number of speakers from across the political spectrum to the Hamilton campus. This year, Kasich was chosen due to his prominent role in both Ohio and national politics and his background commentating on public affairs, said Matthew Smith, director of public programming for the regional campuses.
Kasich began his speech discussing how he became involved in politics.
As a first year at the Ohio State University, Kasich wrote a letter to then President Richard Nixon outlining what he thought was wrong with the country. Kasich was later invited to the White House for a 20 minute meeting with Nixon.
After graduating college, Kasich found himself working on Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign, advising him on politics in five states.
At 26, Kasich was elected to his first term as an Ohio state senator. From there, he ran for Congress and eventually served as governor of Ohio from 2010-2018. He ran for president in 2016 but lost the Republican nomination.
Kasich talked about civility and the power the average person has to make an impact, which he detailed in his latest book, “It’s Up to Us: Ten Little Ways We Can Bring about Big Change.”
Kasich said politicians won’t fix everything, so it’s up to ordinary people to make change.
“What I find so interesting today is how people are looking for something out there to come in and fix what we have right here, and I’m here to tell you tonight, they ain’t coming,” Kasich said.
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He gave anecdotes of the impact unlikely people have made in the world. He recounted a shoe shiner who dropped out of school but saved up more than $200,000 to donate to a children’s hospital for parents who couldn’t afford their children’s treatment.
He told the story of a 5-year-old who filled her whole garage with donations for those affected by Hurricane Florence and a formerly homeless 8-year-old who chose to buy blankets for those in need instead of an X-box.
After each story, Kasich asked the audience if these people changed the world, to which the crowd replied, yes.
“Do you think we can change the world, too?” he asked.
Kasich said change comes from the bottom up, citing the Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Suffrage as times when people organized to make positive change. Looking to the future, he said, the same will be true about environmental awareness and gun control.
“The people tell the politicians what to do, and the politicians will do it over time, if the people speak loudly enough,” Kasich told The Student.
Kasich said it’s important to “get out of our silos” and listen to those with opposing opinions.
“Together, we can end the fighting and the vitriol,” he said. “We can start doing the things we want out of our government and in our communities that will allow us to have a healthier and more together nation and neighborhood and family.”
According to the Dayton Daily News (DDN), Kasich was paid $40,000 for his lecture at Miami. His contract also required that he be given a five-star hotel room with a king-sized bed and cool water on stage, the DDN reported.
This article was updated to include information about Kasich's speaking contract.