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In New Book, Kasich Attributes Trump's Election to America's Spiritual Decline

Donald Trump's stunning victory was not so much a sign of a political or social upheaval in America but one that shows the decline of a nation that has lost its moral compass, John Kasich says in his new book.

By Darrel Rowland

Donald Trump's stunning victory was not so much a sign of a political or social upheaval in America but one that shows the decline of a nation that has lost its moral compass, John Kasich says in his new book.

In Two Paths: America Divided or United, Kasich deals with his deepest feelings about Trump's presidential triumph in a chapter called Faith Above All.

After citing the familiar villains of a superficial news media, voters content to stay in their echo-chambers and candidates spreading falsehoods, Kasich pointed to the country's spiritual decline.

"I happen to believe that you can't guide an entire society without a shared religious foundation," he says a little less than halfway into the 293-page book being released Tuesday.

"I saw Trump's reckless entreaties as a weakening of our shared American values -- even more so, a coarsening of our shared American values," Kasich wrote.

"It troubled me that a strong plurality of Republican voters didn't seem to care that the candidate they supported was operating at the basement level ... Donald Trump gave the impression of a man who would do or say anything to get attention, even incite a crowd to violence," the Ohio governor lamented.

"He was dominating the discussion, the coverage, and the voting -- all in a way that could only signal that this type of behavior was being ratified by the American people. Most alarmingly, to me, it signaled a spiritual disconnect at play in this election cycle."

What Kasich doesn't mention is that Trump won a large majority of self-identified evangelical Christian voters -- many of whom said they were voting for the Republican billionaire because of their hope that Make America Great would apply to spiritual values, too.

In an interview today, Kasich said "there's a tendency when societies mature to take God off the throne and put man on the throne," which creates confusion in society.

The book, Kasich's fourth, rambles at times like some of his speeches. It contains several new nuggets of information from the campaign trail but nothing close to a shocking revelation.

"Years from now, generations from now, I believe we'll look back on this election as a kind of tipping point, a dividing line ... historians will scratch their heads and wonder what the heck was going on with us in this election year."

In a letter to his 17-year-old twin daughters that concludes the book, he says he wrote Two Paths as "an opportunity to lead, to heal, to offer a message of hope to a country that's been divided by the most bitter, most contentious, most polarizing election in American history."

He doesn't universally condemn Trump.

As a candidate, the president "gave millions of disenfranchised voters a voice," Kasich acknowledged.

"What the voters were telling us in this election was that they were angry, that they were feeling that their lives were out of control, that there was a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in the heartland," he said.

"We must listen to the word of the people and draw upon the lessons of this election cycle so that we might grow as a nation. Democracy has spoken."

He recounts the offer of Donald Trump Jr. to the governor's top campaign strategist John Weaver to make Kasich the GOP running mate -- who would take charge of both foreign and domestic policy while Trump spent his time "making America great again."

Kasich says the younger Trump denied the conversation took place; however, Trump Jr. confirmed the talk if not its entire contents with The Dispatch before the November election.

"I could never have worked with Donald Trump," Kasich said.

"I could not condone how he seemed to treat women and immigrants and minorities, or the way he looked at the world," Kasich said.

"I was embarrassed by what (his family members) were seeing on television. There was no decency. There was hatefulness and disrespect. There was no humility. There was only solipsism and self-aggrandizement.

"It was a blight on this great country, the way some of these candidates were behaving, and it left me feeling that we should all have been ashamed of ourselves. As I exited the presidential stage, it was unthinkable to me that I could ever endorse Donald Trump, who I believed had set the ugly tone for the campaign."

Kasich embarks on a coast-to-coast book tour this week, as well as multiple media appearance ranging from Morning Joe to Comedy Central. But he gives no hint of another presidential run in 2020. At the very end of the book he expresses the hope to his daughters that "when you fill out your first presidential ballots, you can vote for a candidate who inspires you, who challenges you, who encourages all Americans to think freely and to dream bigly and to celebrate our differences."

Kasich said today he didn't write that with himself in mind.

While in interviews the past couple of days Kasich has indicated that he's all but through with politics, he gave the more-general staetment today that he simply has "no plans" to run for public office. "Who knows what will happen." he said.

(c)2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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