Governor Ted Strickland’s election-night email to supporters says that last night, he “thanked the Congressman [Kasich] and his supporters for a hard-fought race that allowed all Ohioans the opportunity to consider the kind of future they want for themselves and for their families.”
If this campaign was in fact an “opportunity to consider the kind of future” we want, it probably didn’t provide that opportunity in the way Governor Strickland meant. It may have given us an opportunity to consider the kind of campaigns we want, but that’s not the same thing.
Governor-elect Kasich articulated a vision for the Ohio he wants to see. In many ways, it’s the wrong vision: he says he intends to balance the budget, but he was never required to identify just how. It is clear to me as a retired public educator that in some way or another my colleagues and I will pay part of the bill: he said as much in the campaign, and he refused even to meet with education union leaders.
But as wrong as his vision is, he wasn’t shy about articulating it. Governor Strickland, a good man with a lack of imagination, never articulated a vision for his second term as Ohio governor, instead relying for the most part on attack ads that made the point that Kasich was a Wall Street insider. Unfortunately, many taxpayers probably figure that being a Wall Street insider is nice work if you can get it. (The problem with class warfare as a campaign strategy is that many people are Democrats but aspire to be Republicans.)
More damaging, by using limited campaign resources to beat a dead horse, Strickland lost opportunities to use those resources to expound his own vision–which, granted, presumes that he had one.
George W. Bush showed us how far you can go by being wrong and strong; consider the power of slogans like “No Child Left Behind” and “Mission Accomplished.” Ted was right, but he was weak, and voters don’t reward that.