Around the World

​Inaugural 2016 GOP Debate

You've Got to Hand it to Him (Kasich)

Chad W. Lutz
​Notoriously unpopular for attempting to ax unions in the State of Ohio in the 2011 general election, incumbent Governor John Kasich took his talents to Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night to participate in the first of many upcoming presidential debates. The Governor hopes to punch his ticket as a member of the Republican Party, a field featuring former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and business mogul Donald Trump among others vying for the same prize: a seat in the White House next November.

The GOP debate, televised live on Fox News, included a panel of moderators and questions fielded from private citizens via social media. Topics touched on included immigration and naturalization, ISIS, and Big Government. The candidates had a minute or two to defend points and answer questions when prompted. Some portions of the show featured questions intentionally pitting one candidate against another, which resulted in some serious ribbing between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Rand Paul over foreign and military affairs, and between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump over illegal immigration.

However, the real highlight of the evening wasn't so much what the candidates were saying, as the ways they were saying it. There were several times throughout the broadcast I thought the candidates were flapping their arms so fast they might actually lift off from the stage and fly away. Our own Governor was a prime example, at times exaggerating every single syllable with a demonstrative shake of his fist as he spoke, and at others motioning to the crowd with an arm extended. He'd move words through the air with his hands as if rearranging pieces parts to invisible Lego sets. But Governor Kasich wasn't the only one in on the action. Donald Trump, on several occasions, especially when defending points, brought his hands to his chest to demonstrate how the opinions of others were affecting him, and then would defend his stances and throw his arms wide and high at his sides, looking like he might shout the words, "Say somethin'!" at any moment and in defiance of the other candidates.
Donald Trump's hands were as emphatic as his mouth during the inaugural debate of the 2016 GOP campaign.
​Probably one of the most surprising moments of the evening came when Kasich spoke on the subject of Gay Marriage. There almost seemed to be a momentary flash of authenticity in a candidate who has otherwise been as off-putting to the people of his state as sunlight is to night. Of the issue, the Governor said: "We need to give everybody a chance, treat everybody with respect, and let them share in this great American dream that we have," speaking on a recent wedding he attended of a gay friend. He also noted that while, "The court has ruled," he (the Ohio State Government), "accepts" the ruling, despite his personal conflictions with the rulings. He went on to say that, "[just] because somebody doesn’t think the way I do doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or I can’t love them."

Many are saying our Governor walked away the hero on a night filled with the type of bickering you'd expect from 12 people with giant egos. After his remarks on Gay Marriage, the entire audience erupted in a roar of applause and cheers. Most of the topics discussed throughout the evening were spoken of in disdain, resentment, and exasperation. But Governor Kasich's message on Same-Sex Marriage was heartfelt and even humanitarian. Watching the program, it was hard to believe that very same individual tried to formally disband labor unions, which would have led to the loss of millions of dollars in pensions, legal representation, and healthcare coverage during a time when a nationalized healthcare program didn't exist. It almost seems like a complete shift in personal and political paradigms, and perhaps even a bastard move.

It will be interesting to see how hard these candidates flap their arms and mouths as we near the 2016 primaries and ultimately the fall November election. Already I'm trying to imagine the types of exchanges, as well as arm movements, the Democrats will have in store. My only hope is that Hilary Clinton learns gang symbols and flashes "Blood" on stage. I'd pay twice the admission price to see that.