WASHINGTON — Tribal politics and the emphasis on winning elections at any cost has become a defining feature of politics in the Trump era, according to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“I think today, it’s about winning,” Kasich told NBC News. Voters have become “more and more tribal.”
“It may have happened because people absorb the media and they believe that ‘we’re winning and they’re losing and if they’re winning then we’re losing.’" And he said, that has resulted in an attitude of, "I just gotta make sure I win.”
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“And they can’t quite tell you why it’s so critical,” he added. “It’s kind of a 'win' thing, I think, more than it is what underlies it.”
“If you’re a Republican, you go, ‘Oh my god, if the Democrats won, think of what would happen.’ And the same is true with the Democrats,” he said.
The GOP governor joined NBC News' Chuck Todd for the 100th episode of 1947: The Meet the Press podcast to discuss the state of the Republican party and why voters are so divided.
He spoke just days after voters went to the polls for a special election in Ohio's 12th Congressional District — a race in a historically GOP district that remains too close to call. It's the district Kasich represented when he was first elected to Congress in 1982.
Kasich said that the red-blue divide on display is rooted in some elected officials who run for office to “stoke up the anger with the base.”
“I don’t always reach across the aisle. I reach across the aisle when I have agreement and I’ll fight with you if I don’t agree with you,” he said. "But I look at this as bigger than a Republican Party."
But he said, "I think people are beginning to say, 'I am less interested in party and more interested in the person.'"
That doesn't mean there shouldn't be big disagreements in politics, he said. “I am not a moderate, politically,” he said, but a “common sense conservative.”
“I don’t think of myself as, sort of, some moderate, it’s just that I want to fix a problem. You want to pitch in, you want to help? Great, if you want to obstruct, I’m not interested in you. That doesn’t make me a moderate, that makes me common sense.” he said.