I find a lot of my inspiration when I’m lost in nature… always have. In high school, I would spend the two hour gap between classes and work exploring the coves lining the shore of Lake Olathe. On my days off, I would drive up to Shawnee Mission Lake and build a fire in the old limestone fire pit, cook up some hot dogs, and watch the sparks fly off into the night.
Being a space nerd, I would think random thoughts… like how amazing is it that Earth is the only body in the solar system that can sustain an open flame in its atmosphere; or what would wind sound like on the surface of another planet; or simply… fireflies. What evolutionary side-step caused THAT trait to be a success? AND… did you know, there are no fireflies in France?
(My step-dad’s niece came from France to visit him one summer. As we sat on the patio, enjoying the sunset on her first evening in Kansas, her expression suddenly changed to shock and disbelief as she was staring at a group of trees off in the distance. She said something to my step-father in French and he started laughing, “She’s never seen a lightning bug before!”)
As an artist and musician, I found the peace I needed to let my mind go. To explore the nooks and crannies of thought… to search for meaning, looking for that glimpse of something no one has ever seen. In the sprawling concrete and asphalt jungle of suburban Kansas City, these parks and lakes provide sanctuary for wildlife being pushed out of their natural habitats. More importantly, they are a gift given to us, providing the community a space to reconnect with nature, and share that beauty with our children.
Every Father’s Day I take the boys out to Wyandotte County Lake and feed the geese.
This is Garrett doing his best impression of a goose. (… he’s the one wearing a blue shirt.)
In recent days, I’ve spent time contemplating the task at hand. Searching for words to convey a message and create a vision of something… no one has ever seen. Instinctually, I’m drawn back to these familiar waters, once again searching the depths of my soul. I drive the loop around the lake, sometimes twice… allowing the day’s events to show me where I should look…
Inspiration found at the water’s edge is a fairly new phenomenon here in the Great State of Kansas. Judging from the limestone cliffs… there hasn’t been this much shoreline here in a few million years! Even as recently as 100 years ago, in the Kansas that Eisenhower grew up in, the only significant shorelines were those of the untamed rivers, the Kaw, the Arkansas, and the Mighty Missouri.
The lakes and reservoirs of the Great State of Kansas were constructed out of necessity, to mitigate the damages caused by a changing climate in the face of historic drought. The vicious circle of economic disaster and climate change helped give rise to the Great Depression, and in order to solve those problems, the Roosevelt Administration put people to work modernizing our nation’s infrastructure.
A 505 foot by 255 foot American Flag was flown from the downstream face of the dam. The flag weighed 3,000 pounds and was hoisted by three separate cables located at the top of the dam. The flying of the flag was part of a ceremony in which the 1996 Summer Olympic torch, on its way to Atlanta, Georgia, was carried across Hoover Dam.
Projects like the Grand Coulee Dam and Hoover Dam, electrifying rural communities, making sure every community had access to water… but most importantly, these projects made it possible for Americans to get back to WORK. By providing the FUNDING to get these projects off the ground, the Federal Government helped bring new opportunity to communities that desperately needed an economic boost.
Wyandotte County Lake is one of the many projects funded by the WPA.
Roosevelt didn’t envision the Marshall Creek Dam… he created the vehicle necessary for that project to take shape. He empowered Americans to envision what could BE, and then STOOD BEHIND THEM, confident because we work in common cause.
He didn’t work the levers of government just so he could say, “See what I have done!” He didn’t create the WPA for the benefit of the United States Government. He saw a way that he could direct our government toward helping THE PEOPLE… to help make the lives of EVERY AMERICAN better. Because more participation makes better outcomes for everyone.
I do not seek power for myself, I seek power so that I might give it away. Securing it in the hands of THE PEOPLE… its one true safeguard.
“No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.” – John F. Kennedy
When we guarantee access to the ballot for ALL citizens of this nation, EVERY issue will gain CLARITY. The solutions to our nation’s problems will be realized once THE PEOPLE have UNIVERSAL ACCESS to the ballot.
I am heartbroken after hearing about the bankruptcy filing of the Boy Scouts of America. As an Eagle Scout, I know my life would not be the same without the lessons and experiences I had as a Scout. While I am hopeful that the storied tradition and mission of Scouting will be around for another 100 years, how this situation is handled will determine if that is possible.
HEALING the damage that has occurred and preventing future harm, should be the FIRST PRIORITY.
If that means this organization must come to an end, sadly… that is the way it must be. If they choose to operate in a way that protects or promotes criminal sexual abuse of any form, I would PROUDLY hand my Eagle Scout Badge BACK to the BSA before I would support them, and I believe EVERY Eagle Scout would do the SAME.
We must remember… the ABUSED are not the criminals here, the ABUSERS are. There should be NO TIME LIMIT against coming forward. Their stories help us PREVENT future abuse and we should welcome their stories. We must be focused on making sure it cannot happen again.
My Boy Scout Troop dealt with an experience of sexual abuse while I was an active Scout. During one of our monthly camping trips, our newly elected Scout Leader subjected a group of first year Scouts to an “underwear check”. I didn’t attend that camp out… I can’t remember why. I know at the time it was an important reason, but the events of that weekend seem to have overshadowed everything else around it.
As a youth organization, I believe the BSA must address two issues in order to prevent future abuse:
1.) Why did those boys not know that that situation was unacceptable and should have SPOKEN OUT about it immediately?
2.) Why did that boy believe it was possible for him to subject those Scouts to a situation like that without accountability?
Preventing sexual abuse requires SPEAKING about sexual abuse, which naturally means educating kids about what IS and IS NOT acceptable. At such a pivotal point in their development, the BSA should take a more active role in educating Scouts about these things, and clearly define expectations to actively promote a safe environment for all members… parents, volunteers, and Scouts.
Everyone must feel SAFE, and the BSA must create an atmosphere where Scouts feel comfortable SPEAKING OUT when they are not. The experiences of the Boy Scouts are not an isolated incident. Many organizations are beginning to open their eyes to abuse within their ranks, and we are learning that many lives have been affected. Many people live their entire lives without speaking of it… and some are affected by it everyday.
SILENCE will not fix the problem in the future, and it will not help victims heal.
If the goal truly is to protect CHILDREN, then we must give them the TOOLS necessary to someday do so for themselves… they need KNOWLEDGE.
What better group is there to provide that knowledge than the BSA?
The day AFTER the 2016 election, just like the MAJORITY of this nation did, I started asking the questions… CAN we end the Electoral College? Why do we NEED the Electoral College? If we were to end it, what would we want to replace it WITH?
Understanding why we need the Electoral College is the first step in figuring out if we can END it. The words written in “The Federalist Papers” clearly lay out the reason for creating the Electoral College.
“Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” –Federalist #68
Any other conclusions about its purpose have been informed by their essays, but our modern understanding of the Electoral College’s reason for existing, was never stated by the Founders.
The Electoral College, according to the words of the founders themselves as written in “The Federalist Papers”, was to guard against foreign influence in our elections. To prevent a BAD ACTOR, backed by a hostile foreign adversary, from ascending to the Office of the Presidency. IF one day someone were able to deceive a MAJORITY of this nation using the FUNDING of another country, the Electors would be our LAST DEFENSE.
They could weigh the evidence and make an informed decision to cast their vote against the BAD ACTOR. It was never written by the Founders that the Electoral College was conceived out of a mistrust of the people to choose their President. But they do express their fear of a TYRANT securing ascent to the Office, and subjugating the citizens of this Republic.
When viewed in this light, we can see the security system envisioned to protect us from foreign interference in our elections, has a FATAL FLAW….
The susceptibility to corruption possessed by the men charged with carrying it out.
Corrupted by political leanings. Corrupted by self-interest… corrupted by COLD HARD CASH.
Over the course of 2017, I continued to find more reasons to end the Electoral College than to keep it. Every argument in favor of the Electoral College seems to be based in factual error, assuming it was originally intended to protect minority opinions or the Rights of the States. We must apply the original intentions of the Founders to the question:
“Does the Electoral College protect our elections from the outside influence of a hostile foreign adversary?”
Based on the DATA we have now… the answer is NO.
It’s done a damn good job for the most part, but it has now outlived its usefulness. Like a lock that’s already been picked… it’s simply a matter of TIME before it happens again.
By the fall of 2017, I was convinced that ending the Electoral College was the right thing to do. I did not know how I would, or IF I could… but I knew there’s only ONE PERSON who could oversee such an immense task, and shepherd the necessary resources of both TIME and TALENT to bring such a grand idea to fruition.
The Junior Senator from the Great State of Kansas wouldn’t be able to do it.
A newly elected Representative from the Kansas 3rd District couldn’t pull it off either.
If it were to have any chance of success, Constitutional change of this magnitude would have to be overseen by the President.
“When YOU grow up, you could be elected President of the United States.”
Is that TRUE? In theory it is, in practice…??
MORE than that… could I become President?
The mental inventory taking began… Who did I owe money to? What Laws have I broken… what Laws have I broken that I’ve gotten away with? Who have I harmed in my life? Is there anyone I have not made amends with yet, and would that disqualify me from being worthy of the Office if it were to come to light? (Had I anticipated pursuing a position as an elected official, I might have lived my life a little differently!)
What WOULD stand as sufficient to disqualify someone from being President? In the beginning of my campaign, it was easy to compare myself to the current occupant of the Office, but I knew that would not be sufficient. I want what EVERYONE wants… a return to NORMALCY. That means judging myself against the very BEST of our nation’s history, looking to their lives for guidance on whether or not I could even attempt it.
In October 2017, Senator John McCain spoke after receiving the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center:
“The Land that repairs and re-invents itself. The Land where a person can escape the consequences of a self-centered youth, and know the satisfaction of sacrificing for an ideal. The Land where you can go from aimless rebellion to a noble cause… and from the bottom of your class, to your party’s nomination for President.” -Senator John McCain
As I had been weighing my misdeeds and judging my actions, I forgot… NONE of us are perfect, and none of us could ever serve as President if that were a requirement. It is, ultimately, a judgement I cannot make… I am who I am, and I can only present myself OPENLY and HONESTLY, and let the PEOPLE decide.
I cannot change who I was then… but I can decide who I will BE in the future.
In January 2018, I decided I would make my final decision sometime in March, after I had a chance to speak with our tax man. I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything to jeopardize my family’s financial integrity, by mishandling funds collected by my campaign, or misfiling required declarations, etc… you know, methodical. Do it right the FIRST TIME. Begin the process slowly…
Mandatory Credit: Photo by CRISTOBAL HERRERA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9475429t) Community members and students participate of the March For Our Lives in Parkland, Florida, USA on 24 March 2018. March For Our Lives was organized in response to the 14 February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The student activists demand that their lives and safety become a priority, and an end to gun violence and mass shootings in schools. Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school March for our Lives in Parkland, USA – 24 Mar 2018
My decision to run for President was made on February 17, 2018, three days after the shooting at MSDHS in Parkland, Florida. On the 14th, as news headlines started rolling out… I tuned OUT. Frustrated once again by the INACTION that was sure to follow… as it had done countless times before.
After Sandy Hook… After Columbine… After Olathe North. I’m surprised Paul Ryan didn’t have campaign bumper stickers that read “Thoughts & Prayers”…
On the morning of February 17, Senator Richard Blumenthal spoke on Morning Joe about the situation:
[ VIDEO UNAVAILABLE ]
After an HOUR of searching… there is NO VIDEO to be found. According to the internet, I’m not even quite sure he was a guest that day. But that would make sense though, considering the fact that he spoke of the UNSPEAKABLE. He reminded us of the reason that Gun Safety Legislation would NOT pass in the United States House of Representatives… the reason it would not even be called for a VOTE on the floor…
That legislation would never see the light of day because of THE HASTERT RULE.
He said it as if it were an after thought, tacked on at the end of a sentence. Dismissed SILENTLY as just a given… treated like a subject all of them took for granted.
I’m sure my mouth was agape, because I was stunned. It was like hearing a song you haven’t heard in a decade, but you INSTANTLY remember every word. I remember thinking, “Is that still a thing? I thought they got rid of that?”
… and that is the point of the SILENCE.
I instantly made the connection between the tactics employed by a serial abuser, and the tactics being employed in the House of Representatives. It made sense finally, why a MAJORITY of Americans wanted Gun Safety Legislation but nothing was ever DEBATED on the floor.
The Hastert Rule is the legislative equivalent of serial abusers exerting power over their victims… and the only thing that allows it to continue is SILENCE.
On February 17, 2018, I realized that those kids in Parkland… THEIR struggle is OUR struggle. They faced the same horrors faced in EVERY STATE, over and over again… needlessly, due to the intentional inaction of legislators, who are BEHOLDEN to DARK MONEY DONORS for their reelection.
Thankfully, out of the wreckage of that tragedy, there was a resounding voice of HOPE, and I knew how I could help them make #NeverAgain a reality.
If I was going to have even the slightest chance of being seen on a national level, I knew I would have to start right away. Two and a half years to pour out everything I could, and publish my thoughts in a PUBLIC way. For the first time, I established my presence on social media.
From the FIRST DAY, I approached my social media presence as an active digital archive of every policy position I would take if elected. My Twitter feed has stood as my active presence in the political social circles of Washington, DC, and my website has been my billboard. Over the course of two years… I’ve basically written a novel.
In this time, I’ve tweeted 22,000 times and have published 133 essays on my website. I’ve offered my thoughts and opinions on every subject that’s come to my attention, and will continue to do so. I’ve engaged with people who are opposed to my opinions and, even if I did not gain their support, in most instances I’ve earned their respect.
My Twitter feed PERMANENTLY documents my thoughts and positions, and when viewed in total, it shows how my ability as a politician has evolved. It publicly documents my errors and misjudgments. It also captures the errors and misjudgments of the elected officials I’ve engaged with… both CURRENT and FORMER.
When I started out, I did not know if I could make a difference simply by TWEETING. By the beginning of March 2018… I knew that I would.
Every Tweet sent out by an elected official, by ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States, is PUBLIC PROPERTY. Therefore, our First Amendment Right to FREE SPEECH applies to COMMENTS on those Tweets, and it is illegal to CENSOR THEM. Elected officials express their views, and it is our DUTY as citizens to SPEAK OUT when they are WRONG.
That is what I resolved to do. I dedicated myself to CALLING OUT the Speaker of the House every time he spoke about a lack of support for legislation, or how we shouldn’t act when emotions are raw, or how sad he felt for those effected by the tragedy… the tragedy his leadership allowed to happen.
The first time I replied to Speaker Ryan using the hashtag #EndTheHastertRule, he “flinched”. He did NOT want that message displayed on his Official Tweet, but he couldn’t delete it without bringing attention to what it was he wanted to HIDE… so they composed an identical Tweet. Most casual social media users won’t scroll back through timelines more than just a handful of Tweets.
The Speaker’s Office was attempting to SILENCE my opposition by ignoring my criticism and, in essence… attempting to cover up, or paper over the TRUTH.
In China, defamation of a political poster is a crime punishable by imprisonment.
A man with a bicycle walks past a building covered in posters of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai, China, March 26, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo – S1AEUJNFZLAA
Dong Yaoqiong splashes ink on face of portrait of Xi Jinping
It seems that Speaker Paul Ryan would have preferred it be that way HERE in the United States, when it comes to the topic of his FULL THROATED SUPPORT of The Hastert Rule. A strategy named for the person who established it, Former SpeakerDennis Hastert… convicted felon.
EVERY DAY starting in February 2018, I called out the hypocrisy of the Speaker TO HIS FACE, in full view of the public. I did not Tweet insults and anger randomly behind his back. I tagged his Official Tweets when I commented on them, and I would @ him whenever I spoke about his inaction in my Tweets. I made sure I was STANDING UP and SPEAKING OUT so everyone could see and hear exactly what I had to say.
On April 11, 2018, Paul Ryan announced he would not be seeking reelection.
The events of February 14, 2018, and the actions taken by the SURVIVORS of that tragedy, sealed Paul Ryan’s fate, because it brought SUNLIGHT to the legislative inaction employed by the Speaker, and instead of defending himself… he chose SILENCE.
He could not defend the indefensible.
We should all be grateful for the bravery shown by the survivors of that day, because their efforts ensured February 14, 2018, would be forever known as the LAST DAY of the Speakership of Paul Ryan.
When you STAND UP and SPEAK OUT… Paul Ryan goes back to Wisconsin.
From now until November, I resolve to do the SAME.
There are more things that UNITE us than divide! We agree on so many fundamental ideals, yet we bicker and fight over minutiae and arithmetic. No one wants to see unnecessary loss of life, especially when it is caused by inaction or ignorance… that’s why we pull to the side when we see an ambulance in our rear-view mirror.
We don’t stop and question the political leanings of the guy inside, we just GET OUT OF THE WAY! Because ONE DAY, it will be me who needs that ride… and I’ll be damned if it’s MY actions that cause someone else to leave before their time.
I would expect the SAME courtesy from someone else.
The SAME Constitution that protects the Liberty of supporters canvassing for Donald Trump’s reelection, protects the right of a High School senior to graduate.
The SAME Constitution that protects my right to STAND UP and SPEAK OUT against the actions of the Commander-in-Chief, ALSO protects the right of an athlete to protest injustice during the National Anthem.
Our Constitution ensures the SAME RIGHTS for the fool AND the philosopher, the aristocrat AND the ass… the con AND the converted.
Our Constitution allows us to ask questions and DEMAND answers. It establishes our ability to DEBATE without fear of reprisal from the Government… The Constitution protects our right to be wrong.
How can we find what is RIGHT if we SILENCE dissent? How can we ensure our conclusions are sound if no one is allowed to object?
If it is NOT for everyone… then it is NOT for me.
As I watch the news and listen to the candidates, I hear the SILENCE born of political expediency. Russia is FAKE NEWS, and the subject is now TABOO… “Just look at the polls!”
Who won in IOWA…? Vladimir Putin. Who will win in New Hampshire? Once again…
Where is the URGENCY? Where’s the OUTRAGE? Where’s the PLAN that will ensure this can NEVER happen again? The bells & whistles are distracting us from what has been continuously happening all along… and it’s being carried out to HIS benefit. By his PUPPET and his HENCHMEN, the Leadership of the United States Senate.
Is there NOTHING we hold sacred anymore? Our Constitutionally guaranteed Right to Free Speech is taken for granted. What if it were taken from us? Would that not instantly remind us of what it is we are fighting FOR?
We need look no further than Russia for an example, and their government’s opinion of FREE SPEECH…
“Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone…”
WAKE UP! If not NOW… then when? Is the AMERICAN FREE PRESS the enemy of the people or is it SILENCE? Is dissent STILL the highest act of PATRIOTISM, or shall we BANISH citizens for SPEAKING OUT against an abusive government? An act that, if it fell unto ME, it would be my DUTY to SAY SOMETHING… and I would expect the SAME from EVERY AMERICAN.
These are the VALUES we were raised with… don’t run with the WRONG CROWD, avoid GUILT by association, BEWARE of the company you keep. STAND UP and SPEAK OUT! Because our SILENCE allows it to continue.