It seemed like it had been a long day.

John Kasich was doing one of his many campaign appearances, when he asked for one more audience comment. I bet he wasn’t expecting the message from the student who came to the microphone. The young man fought back tears as he described his friend and mentor committing suicide, his parents getting divorced, and his dad losing his job.

But even though he was in a “dark place,” he explained, the story had a happy ending. “I found hope. I found it in the Lord, in my friends, and now I’ve found it in a Presidential candidate.”

Then, he asked for a hug.

Yes, a hug.

Watch the exchange here:

Kasich responds by talking about the “pain of people all around this country,” which is a fine way to deal with a rather awkward situation – an obviously distressed person still wrangling with grief and disappointment. However, he kept going: “We don’t have enough people that sit down and cry with that young man.”

Really? Is this what America has become? A nation of voters who look to their Presidents for hugs? Candidates who encourage citizens to cry more?

The young man is apparently in turmoil, and my heart goes out to him. However, this exchange is not a high point in an otherwise crass campaign season, an antidote to Trump’s more acrid campaign style. As David French pointed out in National Review:

This is not politics in its proper place. While presidents can occasionally inspire with their own brand of political courage, with their personal example, or with stirring rhetoric, if our politicians now have to help meet our emotional needs, then we’ve lost our way. Kasich is walking around the country acting like the family life minister of a particularly sappy seeker church. I don’t want my president telling me to sit down and cry with people.

The student said that his story had a “happy ending,” because it led him to an “unwavering support” of John Kasich. But does it? What happens when Kasich inevitably loses? How does he continue to make sense of his friend’s death, his parent’s divorce, and his dad’s lost job?

“Our citizens have the responsibility of not seeking spiritual meaning from politicians, and politicians have the responsibility to stay in their lane. A president is neither national parent nor national pastor, and the bully pulpit is not the place for hugs and tears,” French wrote.   This is true. Remember when Gov. Mitt Romney had to repeatedly remind voters suspicious of his Mormonism that he wasn’t running for Pastor-in-Chief?  Well, someone needs to remind Kasich that he’s not running for Hugger-in-Chief. Politics is largely about leadership,” French continues. “and it’s time to lead our country away from the notion that a politician can serve as the balm to soothe the wounded soul.”

I’m not sure what our Founding Fathers would’ve thought had they seen that clip, but I bet they’d be startled at the incredible amount of stock Americans now put in their leaders.

Patheos writer David Murrow believes broken homes are to blame. “Fatherlessness has exploded in our country over the past fifty years. In 1960 just 11 percent of U.S. children lived in homes without fathers. Today that number is 33 percent. Almost 40 percent of school-age children live in a home without their biological fathers. Fatherlessness disproportionately affects minorities and residents of the South. More than half of black children live in single-mother homes,” he writes. “All this father-woundedness is beginning to show up in the way we choose our leaders. Fatherless children grow up yearning for paternal strength — but they are accustomed to maternal care.”

Is the deterioration of the family to blame for the way we now view candidates as father surrogates? Are we now as a nation so morally and emotionally broken that we “ask not what we can do for our country, ask how quickly our President can empathize with us?” (Or, in the case of Donald Trump, chastise us?)

American citizens, if we want to take our nation back, we need to get our expectations right. The President is not Oprah Winfrey… And it’s past time for voters stop looking to politicians to save them – emotionally or otherwise.

Put politics in its proper place.

This article is also published on Patheos via the French Revolution.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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