John Kasich will solve ISIS with a federal program of mass-converting heathens abroad

We’re only two days into the week, and we’ve already gotten about a month’s worth of searingly bad ideas as to how to deal with Islamic terrorism following last Friday’s Paris attacks. Governors have declared that they won’t let Syrian refugees into their states, even though that isn’t how terrorists enter our country and restricting refugee movement is illegal. Senators have proposed passing legislation barring Muslim refugees. House members have tried to strip funding from the federal agency charged with processing refugees. Presidential candidates suggested closing mosques.

If only there were an adult in the room, a moderate Republican who can show us what it means when cooler heads prevail. You know, like John Kasich:

As part of a broad national security plan to defeat ISIS, Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich proposed creating a new government agency to push Judeo-Christian values around the world.

The new agency, which he hasn’t yet named, would promote a Jewish- and Christian-based belief system to four regions of the world: China, Iran, Russia and the Middle East.

“We need to beam messages around the world” about the freedoms Americans enjoy, Kasich said in an interview with NBC News Tuesday.

Setting aside the rather obvious objection that the American government is prohibited from promoting religious propaganda (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” are literally the first words of the First Amendment), this proposal is a hot mess for a few other reasons:

kasich horse

Artist’s rendition of John Kasich spreading the Gospel to Iran

One, as NBC notes in their reporting on Kasich’s proposal, the United States already has a government program, Voice of America, that promotes American culture abroad. Between radio, digital and TV, it reaches 188 million people around the world each week. Kasich’s proposal is superfluous.

Two, Kasich likes to say that he made a name for himself in DC for cutting government programs, and is fond of Reganite orthodoxy that government is always the problem. NBC pressed him on this point, and he dismissed it, saying that not all government programs are created equal. Kasich seems to be implying here that when he says “government program,” all he really means is the social safety net and business regulations, but I’m not buying it. This would amount to a large expenditure that has zero chance of producing his desired result. His program is wasteful.

Three, what makes Kasich think that China, Russia and Iran — countries that are already wary of American meddling in their affairs — are going to take kindly to American-sponsored culture creep? Kasich’s proposal is bad international relations.

Four, scratch the surface of the Islamic State’s religious claims, and you’ll find that frustration with the very American values and culture — and particularly the expansion of said values and culture — is one of their core grievances. How else does Kasich think they interpreted the War on Terror? Kasich may not believe this, but “Judeo-Christian values,” which only ever seem to be championed by Christians, aren’t universally accepted in the rest of the world. Kasich’s proposal would backfire and make us less safe in the long run.

John Kasich is supposed to be the moderate voice in the Republican field. He’s supposed to be this year’s Jon Huntsman — the dad holding the keys to the car reminding the cool kids not to drink and drive. Of course, this was never actually the case, but moderation these days seems to be relative. But responding to the Islamic State with an unconstitutional, backwards, superfluous propaganda program is the opposite of moderate. It’s abject religious fanaticism for religious fanaticism’s sake.

Dear Lord this week is getting out of hand.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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