A couple of months ago I gave up.
After over three decades of political activism to no tangible end, I finally threw my hands up in the air and walked away.
I meant it when I did it. I feel like having given two thirds of my life to doing whatever I can to encourage people to help each other and work together and think, I’d put my time in. Nobody can accuse me of not making the effort, even when that amounted to nothing more than arguing on the internet.
Trying to find ways to ensure opportunity for everyone is something that has driven my life, in no small part because I’ve seen my own opportunities limited by poverty and its side-effects all my life, up to and including the present moment. I hate to think anyone else anywhere is dealing with the things I’ve had to deal with, and relatively speaking I don’t have it so bad. Many have it worse.
I’ve put my life into this. I’ve lost relationships and friendships because of it. I’ve made myself almost unemployable in any country that allows a google search as part of pre-employment background screening because I refuse to hide behind a pseudonym (“John Henry” is my “real name,” first and middle. My last name is DeJong, which will be important because I don’t intend to have it legally changed so that’s what’s going to be on the ballott). And after three decades of hands-on political involvement culminating in almost having a BA in Communication with a minor in Political Science, a path I chose deliberately at age 40 to compliment what I’d already been doing in my life…I was done. I had played Sisyphus to the relentlessly falling rock of our massive streaks of cruelty and ignorance long enough, and it was time for Elvis to leave the building. I pulled down all my videos, pulled all the articles off this site, and started writing about music and entertainment media.
Then Donald Trump won, a thing I simultaneously expected to happen, and hoped would not.
Now I have no choice but to re-engage. I can not see an ethical path for someone with my particular talents and skills and interests to not run for some kind of office. We as a nation are descending into madness…and as it happens, madness is also something I’ve had some direct experience with as well, and I’ve survived it, and I can help teach you how to survive it.
We’re not rushing or hurrying with this. The current plan is to be on the ballot in 2018, so there’s time to work before I start making a whole lot of noise and really attracting attention. No, I haven’t declared a party affiliation nor have I ruled one out. No, I am not prepared to engage in any active campaigning yet, including discussing the specifics of what office I’ll be shooting for.
Why am I running? Because I believe I have solutions that will work to address the grave and pervasive problems facing our country and our culture, and I believe that in being the least likely candidate ever, I stand a good chance of being one of the most effective “surprise” election winners in history.
Because I know that in spite of being outside of just about everything, my values are American values. Freedom, opportunity, equality, fairness, reason, progress. These are the things I believe in, and the things in which I believe this country should lead the world. With the election of Donald Trump, it became clear that we still have a lot of fighting to do, not just to make this the country we like to tell ourselves it already is but to prevent it from being pulled backward to a time when women and minorities were treated as possessions and objects rather than as human beings with hopes and aspirations and dreams and emotions.
I feel like this is simultaneously the most frightening and most opportune period in my lifetime. Now that the cockroaches of our baser instincts have invited themselves out into the light, they’re easier to identify and eradicate – and I’m talking about behaviors and beliefs here, not people. They can be pointed out and described more fully, held up in front of a camera so everyone can see that yes, this is in fact a cockroach and not an extremely small and entirely adorable puppy.
There is poison in our midst and it’s a poison of ego and denial and pride and ignorance. As the adult child of a recovered alcoholic (and yes I mean “recovered,” my dad died sober, having been that way for just shy of thirty years, that’s as “recovered” as an addict gets), I’ve got a lot of practice at rooting through those things in myself. I know how hard it is, and I also know that failing to do it is suicide. Overcoming the many character defects that resulted from a dysfunctional upbringing was a long and difficult road…and it’s the same road that we all need to walk now.
I can help us make that walk. I know the neighborhood and I’ve been down this road before. I’ve lived in all these worlds, from the far-right fundamentalist to the latte liberal to the radical militant to the pacifist tree-hugger. I understand how a person can vote for Donald Trump and still not think of themselves as a racist, and I understand the abject horror that millions of Americans are feeling right now as they envision a United States overrun with brownshirts and hate.
I understand how to make sure that doesn’t happen. In order to do that, I’ve got to focus on getting into a position where I can act and work to make sure that doesn’t happen.
I don’t see where party matters in that; I think every American – or that large majority who aren’t ignorant enough to believe they’d be somehow protected from the effects of an American fascism – agrees that being a nation of bigotry and hate and strife and anger is to be avoided; that compassion and love and cooperation and progress are the future we want our children to inherit.
With the people behind me, I can help make that future happen.
Yes, I’ll definitely need to raise money, but I don’t think it will be necessary to approach the kinds of cash that are being spent on races right now. One thing we can learn from Donald Trump is that if you’re news, you don’t have to pay for advertising. I know how to be news, and I know how to do it without making an egregious ass of myself like Trump. I have the skills personally to do a large part of what costs big money in political campaigns, including writing and creating my own ads. While I can save millions over having them produced, I can’t do it for free. There are of course other expenses, including ultimately paid positions on the team, but for right now it’s all about resources and people who have something to add and want to be involved.
What I’m going to need from you folks in the coming weeks and months is lots of liking and sharing. Obviously if you can contribute financially that’s helpful too, and there will be plenty of space for volunteers, but the big key to all of this is going to be getting the word out.
I’ve been working on new content and doing a lot of heavy-duty cogitation. I take this seriously, and if I’m going to put myself out there as a solution then I have an obligation to ensure that I am able to actually be a solution.
This is not a thing that’s going away, you just have a real-time perspective on what most of the country will perceive as an “overnight sensation.”
I’ve got the backbone of a great team of advisors and volunteers and coordinators, and I know they’re eager to get moving. I’ll be introducing them over time, and getting positions written down and analyzed for weaknesses and so forth. I’m going to continue blogging on relevant issues, while also developing static pages outlining specific aspects of my platform and ideology.
But make no mistake: the campaign has already started.