Says the minority community “has to have a better partnership”
After being told Cleveland is one of the most segregated cities in America, says “everybody has a political angle when they do stats”
For months on the campaign trail, John Kasich has successfully portrayed himself as the “moderate” candidate running for president, the midwestern aw-shucks mentality meets get-it-done pragmatism that we need to heel the country. In part, this has been due to the proverbial clown-car of incompetence and mudslinging from the GOP front-runners that has now come to define modern Republicanism, but he has also actively championed this image in his own right, saying things like “people tell me I’m the only adult on the stage” and “I won’t take the low road to the highest office in the land” during debates, one-liners that feel genuine, albeit clearly pre-rehearsed.
Despite being significantly far behind Cruz and Trump in the delegate count, he has this semi-delusional insistence that his self-proclaimed pragmatism and mid-western pluck will help resurrect a campaign that was, well, never all that erect in the first place, as the primaries begin moving into more politically moderate states like Wisconsin, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Speaking before a pre-taped Town Hall hosted by MSNBC correspondents in Queens, NY, he attempted to convey sensible positions on a variety of domestic and global issues facing the country.
His most peculiar comments, however came during a series of questioning regarding net-worth disparity between black and white families, housing segregation in Ohio cities, and public health.
Let us be clear in this regard: none of these questions should have been viewed with the type of befuddlement that ensued from the “moderate” Kasich; he is a governor in one of the most rapidly ethnically diversifying states in the country giving a town hall forum in a state (NY) long known for its ethnic and racial diversity. So a question about racial justice, net-worth gaps between black/white families, and criminal justice reform should not have come with any legitimate surprise.
Here is the official transcript on that part of the town hall from MSNBC:
QUESTION: Yes, I have. State committee woman of the 29th assembly district. Thank you so much for coming here to Queens County. For me, Governor Kasich, your narrative for president mirrors that of Lincoln. So my question to you is, as president of the United States
TODD: Not bad. Lincoln.
QUESTION: As president of the United States, what specifically would you do to build trust and what specifically would you do to reform social and economic injustices in African-American communities across the country?
KASICH: Well, you know, it’s — one of the things that happened that was really great is Nina Turner, who is a Democrat state — was a former state senator, may some day be mayor — she came to me with a couple other ladies in the legislature, African-Americans saying, we have a problem, we need a commission. I say well, you know, some sort of a study. I said you know, Nina, we’re not going to do that, we’re going to move quicker. And we created a task force on community and police and what we did is we staffed this with community leaders, law enforcement people, she’s one of the co-chair persons, along with our head of public safety, who used to run the highway patrol. And they sat down for a period of time and tried to figure out how we could bring police and community together.
What does that mean? The community can understand the police and the challenges they have and that their family doesn’t want them to be killed and taken out here when they’re on duty, or even off duty. And secondly, that there are people in the community who feel that the country doesn’t just work for them, but works against them. And two days into the Baltimore riot, it was just really amazing. They released a report. And the report created a statewide policy on the use of deadly force. Secondly, not only that, but now a whole policy on recruiting and hiring so that the community — the police force looks like the community and in addition to that now, we’re moving now to ways in which we can fully integrate police and communities so that trust can exist in both communities. And then finally, we also have a grand jury study going on by our chief justice.
The point is — a couple more quick things, Chuck.
TODD: Yeah — No, no, no. It’s fine.
KASICH: We give criminal justice reform, we give people a chance to get out of the prisons if, in fact, you know, they’re nonviolent felons, they want to improve their lives, our recidivism rate is about — is almost less than half the national average. We give nonviolent felons a chance to wipe the record clean and to be able to get employment, because many of them can not. And I’m a person — and look, if you’re a gang banger, if you want to cause violence in the prison — We just had a guy escape. He’ll never get out. We caught him and he’s never going to get out. You’re a gang banger, you’re never getting out. We’re going to lock you up for 1,000 years.
But if you want a chance to better your life, we’re going to give you a chance. And in addition, with nonviolent felons, Chuck, we don’t want to just throw them in the prison. We want to give them a chance to get their lives back because it’s going to keep repeating itself and I do believe that people can have a second chance.
TODD: Now very quickly, this is more than just criminal justice reform, though, and you have reached out to the African-American community in a way that other Republicans have, but Ohio — what is it — the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Ohio the sixth worst state to raise a black child in, median income, a $20,000 gap between blacks and whites in Ohio. Cleveland is considered one of the ten most segregated cities in the country. Why?
TODD: And what does it take to fix these stats? Do you not believe them?
KASICH: No. I’m not sure I do believe —
TODD: You don’t believe these guys? (ph)
KASICH: No, everybody has a political angle when they do stats. Look, I received 26 percent of the African-American vote, which is unbelievable. And you know why? Because the community says basically we trust them, we know that he is doing his best to help us. I don’t know what all these statistics are, but I’m going to give you one great statistic. We are building a road from downtown Cleveland to the Cleveland Clinic and we not have a goal of 20 percent of the construction is going to be done by minorities. In addition to that, we are the first administration that actually enforces the set-aside (ph) where the black community has the chance to receive, you know, 15 percent of all of the contracts that go on and they can get even more than that.
Before we dissect the voracity and shamelessness of these comments, I should add that none of it surprises me in any capacity. Despite clinging to his moderate, reach-across-the-aisle claims, Kasich has been very inept at understanding or even empathizing concerns from communities of color, his whitewashed response to the Flint Water Crisis being the most recent example.
To begin with, he starts out by saying that he created a “task force” to study community and police relations, but then goes into detail describing that the goal was that the “community can understand the police and the challenges they have” without mentioning the irrefutable reality that people of color on a daily basis face their own set of “challenges” when it comes to law enforcement. Whether it was inadvertent, unintentional, or subliminal, it as a public answer to a presented question reflects an inherent bias against black and brown communities. If only black people could understand how difficult the police find it to be policing their communities!
Next, he goes onto mention how “two days into the Baltimore riot, it was just really amazing. They released a report. And the report created a statewide policy on the use of deadly force” which, again, sounds really wonderful, but it conveniently (and deliberately in this case given the media uproar) makes no mention of a grand jury proceeding for Tamir Rice that failed to indict an officer who killed him less than two seconds upon arriving to the scene. He also fails to mention that the Cleveland District Attorney who stalled for over a year on Rice’s case was voted out of office a few weeks ago, in large part due to the collective organizations working on the ground to fight for racial justice.
So parading your “task force” and “bringing the community together” rhetoric while in the same breath failing to mention the realities of a very broken criminal justice system nationwide with the extra-broken realities spotlighting itself in your state comes across nonetheless as nothing more than vapid hot air.
Moving onto the most centrally offensive statements from Kasich, when pressed for an answer as to why Ohio was ranked the 6th worst state to raise a black child, why the household median income gap between black and white families was so high, and whether he believed these statistics were ultimately even true, all Kasich could muster was a pathetic “No, everybody has a political angle when they do stats. Look, I received 26 percent of the African-American vote, which is unbelievable.”
Stripping aside the irrelevance of whether black voters elect you or not in relation to whether YOU improve the quality of THEIR lives, or the fact that 26% of any vote is really not all the impressive to begin with, deflecting away from your record shows why you too, Mr Kasich, have no business being anywhere near the Oval Office.
Kasich’s final talking point on the subject was to then bring the attention to public health, where Black Americans suffer higher rates of nearly all major diseases along with higher infant mortality rates. To that Kasich added:
The issue of infant mortality is a tough one. We have taken that on and one of the toughest areas to take on is in the minority community. And the community itself is going to have to have a better partnership with all of us to begin to solve that problem with infant mortality in the minority community because we’re making gains in the majority community. We don’t ignore any of this, Chuck. These are serious issues and they need to be addressed and I don’t put my head in the sand and if I got to get people upset doing it, that’s life.
So, just to recap for those keeping score: The purpose of a “task force bringing the community together” is so that Black and Brown communities can understand how difficult it is for the police to keep track of them, failing to mention Tamir Rice or McGinty and the ensuing protests around the country implies its irrelevance in your mind, statistics patently proving the inherent racial segregation of Cleveland along with disturbing household median gaps between Black/White families have a “political angle” attached to them, and lastly, if only Black people would come together and simply let John Kasich help them stop letting their children die.
This ladies and gentlemen, is the “political moderate” of the bunch.
Mr. Kasich, I am going to spell this out for you as plainly and stupidly simplistic as I can possibly muster: