^ Ohio Governor John Kasich at a rally in Wakefield last weekend

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We at Here and Sphere hardly ever write about national politics. We have written nothing about the national election. Now that must change. On Tuesday, March 1st, Massachusetts voters have their turn at nominating, and I, as Here and Sphere’s political reporter, think it would be a mistake to not say how I feel.

For those taking a Republican ballot : John Kasich.

Kasich is a two-term Governor Ohio, re-elected with 62 percent of the vote, carrying 96 of Ohio’s 98 counties. Not too long ago, he boasted an 80 percent favorable rating — well earned, as he has led a significant turn-around in Ohio’s economy as well as eliminated the state budget deficit. He is also one of the few GOP Governors to accept Obamacare’s Medicaid funds — “it saves lives,” he tells those who oppose this.

Kasich is campaigning as “a kind man” — in every way the antithesis of Donald Trump, the vulgarian and bully who so far has held onto — but cannot add to — about 31 percent of GOP primary voters. He talks about helping those who live in poverty — “in the shadows,” he says; and he cites examples of his doing so as Governor.

Kasich supports relieving student debt, innovative education solutions, restructuring the broken Veterans Administration, and re-purposing many of the other major Federal agencies. He oversaw agency budgets when he served in Congress and was Ways and Means Chairman, in the 1990ps. There will be few sacred bureaucratic cows in a Kasich presidency.

Kasich also confronts Russia’s Vladmir Putin more knowledgeably than any of his rivals, as you would expect, given his Yugoslavian ancestry and support base among voters who all have long family memories of what it means to be extorted by Russia. He speaks from the heart when asked how he would deal with Putin face to face.

Republicans frightened by Trump and put off by Senator Ted Cruz, would like Kasich to not be in the race so that they could coalesce for Senator Marco Rubio. I dissent. Rubio as I see him lacks all conviction. He supports positions he once opposed, and he impresses me as entirely unready to be President. I find no advantage in choosing a weak minded candidate with zero executive chops because, so far, he polls somewhat well. There may come a time when I will change my mind; but that time is not now. I enthusiastically prefer the best. Governor Kasich is that man.

2.For those choosing a Democratic ballot : Hillary Clinton.

She’s a controversial pick, to be sure — 25 years on the national political stage, including two terms as a New York US Senator and a term as Secretary of State, bring with them both goods and bads; and both her apologists and enemies have made sure that just about every American knows all about both. I am not dissuaded by the negatives nor overwhelmed by the positives.

Clinton knows the issues facing this nation better than anyone and can debate about them masterfully without teleprompting. Her rival, Bernie Sanders, offers huge idealisms, but of a very narrow, “break up the big banks” version. Clinton offers realism — far less dramatic, but — backed by solid knowledge and an indisputable reputation for toughness, even ruthlessness, in a job that requires both and which, in a Clinton presidency, will array on the side of economic fairness and social justice. Her reform agenda is less disruptive than Sanders’s version, but that’s OK by me. Why should we raise well-paid people’s taxes by double, as Sanders wants to do ? For that matter, why should we break up our biggest banks., as Sanders seeks, when in the world of finance, our biggest banks are dwarfed by the 20 largest Chinese finance companies ? If anything, we should bulk up our big banks.

Both Clinton and Sanders call for a multi-billion dollar infrastructure rep[air program : Clinton’s will cost $ 550 billion, Sanders’s about double. Whose do you think more likely to be approved by a  Republican Congress ?

Clinton gets lots of negative attention for the events at Benghazi two years ago, but it’s hard to nail the blame for that terrorist attack on her. Our Benghazi envoy station requested more security but didn’t get it : why ? Congress actually cut State’s security budget by some $ 300 million. Yes, Benghazi was a tragedy. But many State personnel were killed during President Bush’s time, and, as Clinton said, “we cannot allow ourselves to be driven out of dangerous parts of the world.”

Meanwhile, during her term as Secretary of State, Clinton enormously raised every nation’s attention to abuses of women in far too much of our world..

For all these reasons, I recommend a vote for Hillary Clinton if you’re taking a Democratic ballot.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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