Next month, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is going to announce that he’s running for president for some reason.
And while Republicans can probably afford to ignore him until it’s time to consider VPs, Americans should pay attention to Ohio’s governor, and his dangerously wrong lectures on morality, Christianity and the role of government.
Conservatives first took notice when Mr. Kasich decided he was going to accept President Barack Obama’s Medicaid expansion in 2013. But he didn’t just do that. The Republican governor went much further, echoing the left’s shrillest demagogues and threatening that legislators who opposed his plan would have to answer to God for their disobedience.
“I respect the fact that you believe in small government,” Mr. Kasich wound up. “I do too. I also happen to know that you’re a person of faith. Now, When you die and get to the, uh, get to the, to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he’s going to ask you what you did for the poor. Better have a good answer.”
The next year, when the wife of a major conservative donor dared challenge his claim that expanding Medicaid without a plan to pay for it will get you into heaven, Mr. Kasich pointed at her and raised his voice: “I don’t know about you, lady, but when I get to the pearly gates, I’m going to have an answer for what I’ve done for the poor.” (Randy Kendrick and her husband Ken, by the way, might: they’ve given hundreds of thousands to charity.)
And then on Sunday’s episode of “Meet the Press,” we were treated to the latest lecture: “As a big fan of that handbook that the Lord’s handed us, the Old and New Testament, there’s a lot in there, John [Dickerson], about our need to take care of the widowed, the poor, the disadvantaged,” he said. “And I feel very good about it, and at the end of the day, all these people are giving a lift and an opportunity.”
Just moments later, on the topic of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling, he was noticeably less reliant on “that handbook that the Lord’s handed us,” telling Mr. Dickerson that “it’s time to move on. Be clear about that.”
Christians must have been too focused on the biblical nature of marriage to remember reading, “Thou shall expand government.” (BEDFORD: The Pope, And The Libertarians’ Failure)
Or maybe Christians were distracted by Christ’s explicit command to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” — meaning, in part, that the taxes we pay to government are paid to the government, and won’t help us out with God. Or St. Peter.
Morality can be a tricky. But morality can’t be coerced. The taxes we pay to our government could just as quickly go to helping a widow as paying the salary of a government lawyer suing Catholic nuns. And even if a man’s money goes to help the poor pay their medical bills, what was moral about him paying it? If he hadn’t, he would have had a conversation with an IRS agent. When there is no choice, how could there be a moral choice? No, not even an itemized return will help Mr. Kasich write off his taxes with St. Peter.
But Mr. Kasich might protest that he is the governor, not the taxpayer– he’s in a different position. Indeed: The position of the man who took from Peter to give to Paul, making a victim of Peter, a beggar of Paul and a villain of, well, Kasich. Because if the threat of force means it isn’t moral to pay taxes, how can the one who made the threat find morality?
Collecting taxes and spending Ohioans money isn’t in itself a sin, but both are “the things that are Caesar’s,” and not the things Mr. Kasich can count on to render when his true master comes calling. And speaking of tax collectors, Jesus spoke of one in the parable on “some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.”
Mr. Kasich might read it.