Donald Trump changed the course of the presidential election, not with his mouth, but with his right arm during the first Republican debate on Aug. 5, 2015.
Here is how the Washington Post described that first debate: “Donald Trump landed on the Republican debate stage like a hand grenade.”
And the explosions are still reverberating eight months later on the eve of Tuesday’s New York primary.
The question by the Fox News commentator back in August was straightforward, but it was really aimed at only Trump: “Is there anyone on stage tonight that is unwilling to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican Party and pledge not to run an independent campaign against that person.”
Trump, standing in the center of the stage in Cleveland with nine other candidates on either side of him, looked briefly to his right, then immediately raised his right arm high as a chorus of boos cascaded down on him.
In that moment, the American people took notice of candidate Trump. He was thumbing his nose at one of the two dominant political parties and announcing he would be his own man.
Many in the country liked what they heard.
For an electorate sick of partisan politics, this was a welcome and refreshing change from the status quo. Candidate Trump trampled sacred cows left and right by tapping into an inadequacy felt by many Americans — that our country had slipped and was on the wrong path.
Trump’s candidacy, and to a lesser extent that of Bernie Sanders, has energized the presidential election process that was often over by Super Tuesday in March. Trump has also exposed the inadequacies of the political system, calling the system rigged. We cannot disagree.
By drawing attention to the way we elect presidents, perhaps changes can be made. We suspect it has been an education for many Americans.
So while candidate Trump has energized the electorate and exposed the problems with the way we elect presidents, we can’t in good conscience endorse him to lead the country.
Trump has a simplistic view of what is a very complicated world, and most of his solutions either lack in specifics, or are not workable. We believe he would do more harm than good if elected while setting the country back decades.
We cannot emphasize that enough.
So if not Trump, who?
We don’t see Sen. Ted Cruz as a much better solution. His positions are extreme — even for far right-leaning conservatives — and we believe he would just divide the country further. His inability to work effectively within the cozy confines of the U.S. Senate speaks volumes.
That leaves us with Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, the candidate we referred to as “the adult in the room.”
The word we kept coming back to regarding Kasich is “reasonable.”
In the current political climate, Kasich’s willingness to listen and find common ground was almost unheard of among the 17 Republican candidates that started last summer. It is not a surprise to us that Kasich is still standing.
Kasich has the experience, having served nine terms in the House of Representatives and rising to the top echelons of the House Armed Services Committee. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, he sponsored an important welfare reform law that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. He also helped broker a deal to balance the federal budget in 1997.
His work in Congress showed an ability to get things done.
Kasich has been one of the few presidential candidates to support Common Core and be open to campaign finance reform while accepting that same-sex marriage is the law of the land.
He is “reasonable.”
We’re not crazy that he is still wishy-washy on climate change, favors continued spying by the NSA on Americans and believes military spending should be increased, but these seem to be essential positions for most Republican candidates.
Our final analysis is that Gov. Kasich is the one candidate capable of getting things done if elected.
Gov. Kasich has not received even a fraction of the attention of candidate Trump, but he deserves strong consideration by all Republicans on Tuesday.
Post-Star editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Tom Portuese.