Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich is no stranger to critics. He loves them, in fact. Critics of Ohio's go-go CEO-style governor are fodder for his belief that leaders like himself, whose mission in life is to live up to the potential only the Lord can give them, gain strength from the opposition and determination from the opportunity to stand his ground on beliefs, as divinely inspired or horribly wrong as they may be, and showcase how his leadership skills cannot be distracted in the face of adversity.
And Lord knows, life is all about handling adversity, knuckling under to it as the weak do or conquering it as only true, strong leaders do.
But as in love with himself as Gov. Kasich is, there are those who don't see him as the fairest of them all. The Ohio Democratic Party and its allies have never been in love with him, but for obvious reasons this is not news. What is news, though, is that others former supporters like the Ohio Tea Party movement, which loved him long time enough in 2010 to push him over the finish line against the Great Recession - bit Democratic Governor Ted Strickland on Election Night, with only 49 percent of a 49-percent voter turnout or a slim 77,127 votes statewide, now feels jilted, left at the altar of political love gone sour.
For a variety of reasons, Gov. Kasich, who arguably owes a debt of gratitude to Tea Party leaders and their army of field-based activists who pushed him into the governor's office, has put his former backers in his political crosshairs.
Trying to help identify the target, Kasich's big media backers and some high-priced Capital Square Republican lobbyists, whose comments on Kasich's opponents have given Ohio Tea Partiers move fodder to feed their army on the need to man-up and communicate better in order to win district skirmishes that if won will present a legislature that doesn't see itself as a handmaiden to Kasich but as an enforcer of their liberty agenda, have just poked the hornets nest that much more.
Are you a "Nazi," a "nihilist" or just too stupid to understand John Kasich's "complicated" ideas? This provocative line was authored by Chris Littleton of Ohio Rising, a Tea Party group focused on "building a better Ohio through freedom friendly policies." What lit a fire under Littleton was a comment by one long-standing, Capital Square GOP inside player and Kasich supporter, who commented on Kasich's critics this way: "I guess for some people in Ohio, unless you are a card-carrying Nazi you can’t be a Republican."
Littleton noted that just a few months ago, Kasich called people who oppose his policies "nihilists." He took further umbrage when an explanation of "it's complicated" by Kasich, to deflect questions about his pet private non-profit job's group Jobs Ohio and suspicion that Kasich cronyism is at work, prompted Littleton to slap back, asking Kasich "if the public is too stupid to understand his schemes." Littleton punched the state's CEO again, accusing the governor this time of "insulting farmers who didn't anticipate his tax increases on their land" and who "dared to question his proposal."
Why are those who question any Kasich policy immediately insulted, slandered and ridiculed?, Littleton wondered in his Ohio Newsletter, a regular online news and communication feature. "Using the bully pulpit of high office to insult the same people you claim to serve is disgraceful, and the Kasich administration should be ashamed."
Kasich knew Democrats and progressives, including union families and other sympathetic groups and voting blocks who took him on over gutting collective bargaining rights in 2011 and won would want to reply that victory again, next year when Ohio voters decide whether they'll hire the former Congressman turned Lehman Brother Wall Street banker for another four years.
Kasich's new opposition, who turned from backing him four years ago to opposing him today, are gearing up for a fight that will either vindicate the Tea Party movement in Ohio as legitimate and effective or not. Gov. Kasich would just as soon run them over with his proverbial "bus" to get them out of his now-graying hair, so he can concentrate on defeating a man few have heard from but who oddly enough leads Gov. Kasich by three points in the last poll by Public Policy Polling last month.
"In the American tradition of healthy dissent and debate, or what many of us refer to as a right to free speech, we tell John Kasich and those who would insult and demean us for questioning his policies - We will not shut up. We will not go quietly into the night. We will always stand for what is right, and we thank you for reminding us why free speech is so important in the United States," Littleton, the Thomas Paine of the Ohio Tea Party movement, wrote.
"Because left up to people like John Kasich and his friends, every person who questions ideas would be crushed under their heel. We will never let this happen," he said before asking for a contribution to the cause.
Ted Stevenot, President, Ohio Liberty Coalition had that cause in mind when he also made a pitch to "conservatives and liberty-minded people" to liberate some cash from their wallet and send it to OLC in order that the quality of their messaging can be improved. "We realize we must learn to speak in more personal terms and better correlate how the public policy we support affects people in their everyday lives," he said.
Stevenot, who works in tandem with Littleton, identified one big challenge facing Ohio Tea Partiers as the improvement in the quality of messaging. "We must also work to improve our overall communication 'reach,'" he wrote in an online newsletter.
What's the OTP agenda?
- To succeed as advocates for liberty, we must endeavor to build a large independent communication network that allows us to inform, mobilize, and engage liberty-minded citizens in our state.
- To achieve this objective, we recently began working to improve the grassroots communication capability of OLC member groups in Ohio. To date, we have upgraded dozens of group websites and are actively working to expand our statewide and local presence on social media.
- As a result of these efforts, last week (9/1 - 9/7), the OLC and related member groups reached 123,212 people on Facebook. In the past two weeks, we added over 2,500 new Facebook fans statewide.
- A generous donor has stepped forward to provide a dollar-for-dollar matching gift of up to $10,000 in support of our work to improve grassroots communication in Ohio. Now is a great time to donate to OLC and achieve twice the impact for your contribution!
"Whether spreading the message of liberty, fighting against the implementation of Medicaid/Obamacare expansion in Ohio, or helping to turn out the vote - a greater ability to communicate with a larger number of like-minded Ohioans will help us be more successful in everything we do," Stevenot said.
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