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COLUMN: Kasich: End to polarization starts in our neighborhoods

By John Kasich
Governor of Ohio

As an American and Ohioan, I’m very concerned with how divided our country has become. One reason is that people increasingly only consume news and information that reinforces their own views. I’m sure that’s no one in here.

Gov. John Kasich

But I want to tell you, if you’re conservative, you watch conservative television, read conservative editorials, and you listen to conservative talk radio. If you’re a liberal, you listen to liberal television, read liberal editorials, and you go to the Huffington Post.

That’s what we do. And then we’re all experts. We gave up bowling, we took this stuff up. But let me ask you a question. How can we ever learn new ideas or understand how to come together with Americans from different backgrounds unless we talk to one another and hear how others think?

We’ve gotten to the point where so much of the time we think we know everything and whoever else doesn’t think the way we think — they’re just dead wrong. That’s not America.

We’ve seen an extreme division in our political system. I will tell you that I think work has been done in our state to minimize that. I believe it. These are fine people. The leadership – fine people. Of course, the Democrats get upset. When I hear from them, I go to Republicans and say, treat them right. We’re trying as best we can to pull together.

But, you know, across this country, there’s rising polarization and inability for the political parties to work together. This is not acceptable, nor is it sustainable for the good of our country and the good of our children.

Somebody said, “What do you do about it?” Well, we’re not going to throw away newspapers or turn off the television. I know we’re not going to do that. I tell you what I think we can think about. I believe one of the ways in which we can begin to address it — the polarization — is for people to find commonality in challenges that come before us.

Fighting the scourge of drug addiction and death, that’s not political. It’s not limited to one party or one ideology or one philosophy. When somebody dies from a drug overdose, we all mourn. It’s not limited to what position you take. We should fight together. Hunger in our communities, that’s not liberal or conservative or Republican or Democrat….Hunger knows no affiliation. I give a big shoutout to people that are out there raising money to buy coats for kids in the winter. That’s not a Republican ideal – kids are cold. Kids are hungry. Families are out. We have to help them where we live.

Gov. John Kasich will sign copies of his new book, titled “Two Paths: America Divided or United,” at noon Sunday April 30 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Crocker Park in Westlake.

We read in the paper the death of a baby and the problem of infant mortality. That’s all of us. That’s shared humanity. We need to work to destroy this evil of infant mortality and help these moms to have a baby and birth a baby and make sure that those babies are going to thrive. We need to wipe out infant mortality.

When veterans come home, veterans, people that serve overseas and any of the veterans, they need a job. How can we have sky high veteran unemployment? What are we doing in our communities? We help our veterans. Everybody agrees with that.

And how about when somebody’s getting old? Maybe you didn’t all know this, but I ran for president. And I was at this one town hall. For some reason, I was in New Hampshire. I said, “Did anybody here lose a spouse?” A guy raised his hand.

I said, “How long were you married?”

“60 years.”

“When was the last time somebody took you out to dinner?”

“It’s been awhile.”

I said, “Who’s going to take you out to dinner tonight?”

Hands shot up. Our seniors, they need love, attention, maybe sometimes it isn’t convenient for us, but we need to do it.

You see, I think that if we can begin to address these problems, if we begin to deal with them where we live, solving these problems will bring us together, and it’s up to us. If we begin to work together, we’ll be surprised at how much progress we can make. We’ll begin to solve some of this. We’ll begin to start a dialogue that can pull our country back together, because it isn’t going to come from top down. It’s got to come from us up. That’s the only way this is going to work. And working on these issues together in our community brings us together. We need it.

And I’m not asking us to travel around the globe to achieve world peace or work great miracles, but simply one person at a time, right where you live, start to rebuild the foundation of our nation, and that foundation is our people and our communities and our neighborhoods.

(Editor’s note: This column was excerpted from Gov. John Kasich’s 2017 State of the State Address given April 4 in Sandusky. The full text of the speech can be found online at http://governor.ohio.gov/. Video of the speech is at www.ohiochannel.org/video/state-of-the-state-address-2017.)

Gov. John Kasich will sign copies of his new book, titled “Two Paths: America Divided or United,” at noon Sunday April 30 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Crocker Park in Westlake.

(Editor’s note: The time of Gov. Kasich’s book signing has been updated to reflect the new time of noon on Sunday, April 30.)

 

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