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Jason Kander: Getting Help Saved My Life

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Jason Kander: Getting Help Saved My Life

Jason Kander discusses his new Memoir, Invisible Storm

Jason Kander served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan, and as Secretary of State for Missouri, before his Senate campaign in 2016 catapulted him onto the national stage. In his new memoir, Invisible Storm, Jason talks about how he decided to step away from an extremely promising political career to focus on his mental health.

Jason is now the President of National Expansion at the Veterans Community Project, an organization that provides housing and mental health resources to vets that need it.

Jason Kander:

He said, “I thought that Jason Kander was one of the most together friends that I had, had it all figured out, and it turned out that he was amazingly fucked up with PTSD.” And the funny thing is, and then he said, "Amazing book." And Al sent me that and said, "Is this okay?" And I said, "If you do not tweet that word for word, we are no longer friends."

Ken Harbaugh:

I'm Ken Harbaugh, and this is Burn the Boats, a podcast about big decisions.

My guest today is Jason Kander, who served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan, and as Secretary of State for Missouri, before his Senate campaign in 2016 catapulted him onto the national stage. In his new memoir, Invisible Storm, Jason talks about how he decided to step away from an extremely promising political career to focus on his mental health. Jason, it's been probably a little over a year since we last had you on Burn the Boats. You were in the middle of writing Invisible Storm then. It is great to have you back.

Jason Kander:

It's great to be back. Thanks for having me.

Ken Harbaugh:

I love your Twitter bio. I love your whole Twitter account. Especially the late night ‘Ask me anythings’.

Jason Kander:

Ah, thanks, man.

Ken Harbaugh:

But in your bio, it says, sort of ran for President. I know you've told the story a million times about sitting down with President Obama when he encouraged you to do it, but I'd like to get inside your head and get a sense of what it feels like when the President of the United States is telling you could be next in line.

Jason Kander:

It's pretty wild to be honest. Particularly because where I was at that moment, I'll go through kind of where I was personally and where I was professionally. Where I was personally was I was not doing well. I wasn't admitting that to myself yet. My PTSD had been untreated, undiagnosed, unacknowledged by me for, at that point, 9 years. No, 10 years at that point. And I was really struggling. And so what was happening was I was heading toward a campaign for President, but look in 2018 who wasn't, Ken. I mean, it just, everybody seemed to be getting ready to run for President. But I was one of them. There was a couple dozen of us. I was one of them. And what was happening for me was my self confidence throughout that entire decade never flagged, my confidence in my own abilities. I was absolutely convinced. And to be honest, I still look back and kind of think I was right about this. And this is an egotistical thing to say, arrogant thing to say anyway, I was convinced I was the best politician in the country. In terms of I was the most talented. I thought I had it. And I really believed that. And what was really wild about that, is that juxtaposed against that was that I had really no regard for myself as a human being. My self-esteem was going in an opposite direction from my self-confidence. And I was doing very well politically. I was 36, 37 years old, and I was a legitimate potential candidate for President of the United States through kind of a serendipitous series of events. I mean, I had lost my race for the US Senate, but just barely lost it. And I had been in a race nobody thought I should have been competitive in. And then some other things had happened that people just knew who I was. And they were like, "Oh, this guy got a lot of people who voted for Trump to vote for him without pretending to be like Trump." So that's kind of how I ended up there.

And then I was really stringing together endorphin highs to avoid myself. And I didn't realize that's what I was doing. The way I would've said it, to people very close to me at that time, was I feel good as long as I'm going, as long as I keep going. Because what was going on in my head was really unpleasant. And so if I was giving a big speech or I was in a really big high stakes interview or a donor meeting with a donor who could really, really open things up, I was very engaged and I was very present. But all the rest of the time, with my family, in between any of that, was like a sullen gray haze. And frankly it was more than a gray haze, sometimes it was getting pretty dark.

So President Obama had said he'd like to talk to me. I came out to see him. And I was thinking at that point, "Well, I'm probably going to get 15 minutes, me and him and like a staffer or two, and I'll get a chance. This is him affording me the opportunity to make an ask of him." So I was ready to ask him to maybe headline a fundraiser for the organization I had started, Let America Vote. So I was very surprised when I get there, and it becomes evident right away that it's just me and him. And there's really no clock on this deal. He shut the door, and we're just hanging out in his office, and he's not in a hurry. We're chit-chatting about all sorts of things. That wasn't like, "Okay, what do you need?" It wasn't like that. And then by the end of, it was clear, we had just had a very real conversation about the possibility of me running for President. And what would that look like? What advice did he have? Did he think, what were my obvious disadvantages, my obvious advantages? And yeah, by the end of it, he said to me, he kind of summarized the whole thing by going through a bunch of the other potential candidates. And not like knocking anybody, but really listing off for me a realistic take on what everybody's advantages were that I didn't have. A lot of them, most of them were much better known than me. A lot of them had much more access to donors and that kind of stuff. And they had been more than a statewide elected official who wasn't a Senator.

So then he just kind of concludes by, he says, "But Jason, you have what I had. You're the natural." And that was a big deal to me. So what it felt like was validation of this outsized self-confidence that I had. It made me feel validated about that. But also it was something that my self esteem really needed at that moment, which was, I was kind of careening downwards that way. And it was very validating to have my political hero say, "No, I don't think this is crazy." He wasn't saying you're my guy, my only guy. He was saying you're one of the people who should do this, and who should really consider it. And that was a big deal for me.

Ken Harbaugh:

It didn't mess with you at all? I'm just trying to get in that space between self-esteem and self-confidence. Because I've had one or two friends who thought they could be President and there's something wrong with them.

Jason Kander:

Oh whoa.

Ken Harbaugh:

Leader of the free world.

Jason Kander:

There was already a lot wrong with me. That's the thing, Ken. It was pretty hard to mess me up more at that point.

Ken Harbaugh:

I got to invoke Al Franken's endorsement of your book here.

Jason Kander:

Sure.

Ken Harbaugh:

If I can't pull it up in time, do you know it by heart?

Jason Kander:

Yeah, I do. I do. Cause Al texted it to me beforehand to make sure it was okay. He said, “I thought that Jason Kander was one of the most together friends that I had, had it all figured out, and it turned out that he was amazingly fucked up with PTSD.” And the funny thing is, and then he said, "Amazing book." And Al sent me that and said, "Is this okay?" And he sent it to me with this really funny picture of him with the book backwards in a mirror and his hair all messed up. And I said, "If you do not tweet that word for word, as well as that picture, we are no longer friends." And a day later he comes back and he is like, "Okay, my daughter says, it's okay if I tweet that, but that I have to use this picture." And I was like, "Fine, whatever." I was like, "I'm upset, but okay." It was a more normal picture.

And the thing is the guy who was helping me promote the book on social media, he was like, his name's Rob, and he goes, "We got to get, that had a great response. We got to get more people to kind of like give you shit the way Al did." And I was like, "Dude, no one's going to be willing to do that." And he's like, "Why not?" I was like, "First of all, Al is a very close friend of mine. And so he knows it won't bother me." I was like, "Two, there's literally no one else who can pull that off. And there's no one else who can do that. And people will be like, ah ha. Oh, here he is. He's joking. But saying, it's a great book." So nobody else did it that way, but it got a great response.

Ken Harbaugh:

I know you know this, but everyone's PTSD takes a different shape. And one of the things that has struck about yours, and your battle to overcome it, was just how solitary it was for so long. How lonely it was. We had Sebastian Junger on the show not long ago, who wrote another great endorsement for your book. And he spends a lot of time writing about the importance of having a tribe in overcoming PTSD. You allude to it. Your book is, I've just dogeared like crazy. I've got it here, and you referenced this same idea.

Jason Kander:

Oh cool. Great.

Ken Harbaugh:

I'm going to read the passage. And then-

Jason Kander:

Oh, I cribbed. I cribbed that part right out of Junger's book. I mean, I didn't use it word for word because that's plagiarism. But his book made a huge impression on me.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah. And I know so many vets for whom it just resonated so deeply with.

You wrote,

"Native Americans made sure that everyone in the tribe understood what the warriors had experienced so that the warriors would never have to feel alone in the tribe."

Not only did you feel alone coming home, but the nature of your deployment, unlike so many others, unlike mine, was solitary. How did you process that?

Jason Kander:

Yeah. That's a good point. I mean I didn't go over with a unit. I was an individual augmentee. Right. So I went over, and I filled the spot, and then I came back. And so that was a little bit of a lonely experience.

The thing about it is, Sebastian's endorsement of the book meant a ton to me. He was actually the first person I went to for a blurb. We know each other a little bit because, as you may know, out of his book came this effort to do these Veterans Town Halls. And we haven't made a big deal of this publicly because we haven't been able to do much with it yet. But that fledgling organization that is going, or I should say more nascent organization that has started to do that, needed a home. And so my organization, Veterans Community Project, has been the fiscal sponsor for that. And so just as things start to get, which gave me the opportunity to have a little bit of a relationship with Sebastian, who I really respect. And his book meant a lot to me. And I shared his book, after I read it, my fellow leaders of Veterans Community Project. Almost all of us are not just veterans, but veterans at the Kansas City PTSD clinic. And so it's really important to us. And so that part of the book, yeah, it's largely about that. And so when Sebastian initially was like, "Well, I don't really have time to do blurbs, but I will read this." He read it in a day and was just super effusive in his praise. And it just, it really meant a ton to me.

And that isolating thing is huge. And to me, it all goes back to the fact that this is the longest consecutive period in American history without some form of mandatory service. And so when my grandfather came home, all his buddies had just had the same experience. His brother had just had the same experience. And so you're just a lot less likely to feel alone. Not just because you can talk to them, but because everybody has somebody in their family who had just gone off to war and come home. And even in Vietnam, for as horribly as we treated the Vietnam generation, at least they were large in number. And so I think it is a very isolating experience for a lot of us.

I came home and my out processing, going back into the reserves, was like, I went, I signed a piece of paper at Leavenworth, and then like, I cooled down so to speak. I just sat around for a week and a half. And then I went back to my job at a law firm. So I'd gone from being an Army intelligence officer in Afghanistan doing really important stuff to now I'm like writing legal memos. It's not like I was a senior lawyer. I was right out of law school. So I'm just writing legal memos and stuff. And it wasn't long. It was a few months before a partner who I really like came in, and was explaining to me how important this thing I was writing was. "This is really important."

And I remember I said, "Yeah, anybody going to die?" And we both kind of knew, in that moment, yeah, I'm probably not going to work here very long. And I didn't. And so it was just hard to find people who could relate. And then, and I'm sorry, I'm kind of wandering in this answer. I apologize. But then I got into politics and I found little flashes of that we're all in this together and going for a cause. You probably experienced this. That feeling in the campaign of like, "Hey, I got, I kind of with my team again. I got a team together." So that it sometimes felt good. It never felt the same as the military, but I got little pieces of that. And then my best times were when I was on drill weekends or active duty periods, that those were great. And then I got out of the military altogether.

And then campaigning, wasn't really doing it anymore. And it just, yeah, it became more and more isolating. And then after a while I was in this position where I supposedly had all these friends. I mean, I had, I was, I'd become famous. And I went places and people knew me. But I felt very alone. And it had been so long that I had forgotten that I didn't used to be like that. I didn't used to have night terrors every night. I didn't used to have this feeling that I was in danger all the time. I didn't used to have this like ever present stress that I could feel in my body. And since I had refused to accept the idea that it was connected to my service, I just started to resign myself to the idea that this is just how I am now. Because I had forgotten what it was like to not be that way.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah. Throughout that lonely time, there is one person who's at your side though, who's your champion through it all. And that's Diana. And I am so grateful that she's a voice in this book, for a couple of reasons. Some of them are just instrumental. I mean, I think most people don't know anything about secondary PTSD. I don't think most people know that most trauma victims never went to combat. And she carries that torch incredibly articulately in the book. This is another page I have dogeared, and it speaks to me on a deeply personal level.

You wrote,

"From the moment I'd met Diana, anything good that happened to me didn't feel real, didn't become real until I told her all about it."

That's how my wife and I are. We got married in our early twenties, like you two. We went to grad school together. And I'm wondering if that's one of the differences that separates someone like you from those who get sucked into the darkness and don't come out. You had someone. You were alone, but not entirely.

Jason Kander:

Yeah, no, look, she saved my life. There's no doubt about it. And she kept me going through all those years. She would be the first to tell you, and she does write about this in the book, that there's a lot of stuff that we would do over differently. And she would too, because we just didn't know. She didn't know how to deal with it when someone tells you that they are having suicidal thoughts. She didn't know how to handle somebody who is clearly continuing to go after their career as self medication. And so the way she put it is, when she had moments to maybe try and get through to me that maybe it was time to go get help, that instead she, instead of throwing me a life preserver, she jumped in next to me and started drowning with me. But that's because we didn't know. And she didn't know. And so her parts of the book are my favorite parts. For a few reasons. One I'm not the only best selling author in the family, she's a really good writer. Two, the secondary PTSD part, the getting that knowledge out to people. Knowledge we didn't have, even when I started therapy. My own therapist is the one who told me Diana may need to see somebody as well. And then probably the greatest reason that I think they're such important parts of the book. It's probably a tie between exposing people to secondary PTSD, the knowledge of it, not actual secondary PTSD. You will not get PTSD from reading this book. You might actually laugh. There are jokes in the book. I should say that.

And then the third, and then this other reason that I think it's just a big deal that, I took on a challenge in writing this book that was really important to me, which is rather than allow myself to use any of the vocabulary that I had gained in therapy when describing the parts of my life that happened before therapy, I made myself write those portions by returning to the mindset that I had at that time. And the reason for that was, is that if I used a term like hyper vigilance to describe how I was before I got therapy, well, someone who's never gone to therapy, and who is deciding whether they need to, or whether someone they know needs to, then it's not going to be relatable. They're not going to be able to see themselves in it. But if instead, I can return to that mindset, and I can describe that as, I knew people were coming to kidnap my family. I knew how dangerous the world was. Well, that is going to ring true to a lot of people who are experiencing that. And they're going to have a better understanding of what it feels like to have PTSD. Now, the downside to doing that, is that if you do that for several chapters in a row, and you're the only narrator, people are going to be like, "What is wrong with this dude? That is clearly not what's happening." So it's extremely helpful to have an occasional other narrator to come in, and describe what they were seeing in my behavior. So that you can get that full 360 degree picture. And describe what effect my behavior was having on them. And so that's what Diana does so beautifully in the book.

Ken Harbaugh:

There is this pivot in the book when you start therapy, it is so lacking in jargon before then, and entirely relatable, which I know is your objective. What are you hearing from readers, vets in particular, as they pick up the book and reach out to you afterwards?

Jason Kander:

I mean, that's been the most rewarding part of this. I mean, obviously the book's done very well. And so there's been a lot of nice things said about it. But the two groups that have meant the most to me are, one, people who have sustained trauma, and I include in that veterans. And I include in that people who have been to therapy and people who haven't. There's obviously a lot of people who have reached out to me who have said, "Okay, I read the book and now I understand that. I'm going to go get help." Or, "Now I understand what my husband or my wife is going through." And a lot of them are vets, a lot of them aren't. And it means a lot to me that, whether they're vets or not, that they're able to get a lot out of this book.

The other group that has meant a ton to me, maybe even more because it's, because they've had such an impact on me, is trauma therapists. I have had so many people who are trauma therapists at the VA, trauma therapists in private practice, who have told me that this book has made them a better therapist. That this book is going to be something that they're going to recommend to other therapists. And that this book is something that they are keeping in their office. And some of them told me, "I've bought a bunch of copies because I'm planning to give it out to a lot of my patients." That means more to me than anything. Because, as you know from reading the book, my therapist at the VA, Nick, is a huge figure in my life. I mean, he made a huge difference in my life. He's a big character in the book. And so to have that impact on that community is a big deal to me.

Ken Harbaugh:

You've got another book out there, Outside the Wire, great book. And I just skimmed it, didn't read it entirely for this interview, but I get the sense that it was written by a different person.

Jason Kander:

Oh yeah. It's written by the guy from the first two acts, or the second act of this book.

Ken Harbaugh:

Right. What was it like to finally write a book without having to worry about what oppo is going to do with it?

Jason Kander:

Yeah. It was more, it was, I want to say it was easier or more fun, but it was just, this book was not more fun to write or easier because it was just, this book's just better. Outside the Wire was also a best seller, and I'm proud of Outside the Wire. I stand by everything in it, with the exception of the part where I'm like, "Good thing I don't have PTSD." Because I was kind of trying to convince myself. Outside the Wire was a book where...

Look, I was about to run for President. And when you're about to run for President, every publisher is like, "So want to write a book?" And most people are like, "Yeah." And most publishers were like, "Okay, so you're going to write a book about like, here's my vision for the country." Cause that's what everybody does. And a memoir, that's basically a campaign pamphlet that's way too long. And I was like, I do not read those books. They are so boring. And I just didn't want to write one. So what I basically did is I took really well tested vignette stories I had told in a lot of speeches, that really resonated with people, and were not just political. They were mostly just like life lessons and stuff. Because I as Secretary of State of Missouri, I spoke to a lot of young audiences, things like that, and they were valuable lessons. And so I think there's a lot of valuable lessons in that book. I think anybody who's interested in being involved in politics, or is a political activist, or any kind of organizer, can get all lot out of that book.

This book is really different. This book is, “Here's a no shit, no holds barred memoir of what it's like to run for President with an undiagnosed psychological disorder.” Which is a book nobody's written. It's a thing that I'm sure has happened before, but no one else has copped to it and told the story. And so I feel like this book is a real public service. I know this book is helping a lot of people.

Outside the Wire's great. I'm happy that I got to write it and everything. It's a much lighter read. But yeah, it was written by a person who was trying to just keep going, and convince themselves everything is okay. There's nothing in there I said that's not true, it's just that it was all the surface of me. It wasn't the, it wasn't deeper than that. Still valuable, but it wasn't like, "Okay, here's the whole deal about me."

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah. Well, one book is going to save lives. The other is going to provide a good roadmap, some good inspiration for political neophytes.

Jason Kander:

Yeah.

Ken Harbaugh:

In politics, as you well know, a lot of people attach their fortunes to yours, especially at your level. How did that factor in, if at all, to your decision to back away? I ask because I think so many politicians out there keep going on inertia, not because they have something to offer. Not because they love the job. But there's just this machine that propels you forward. And you must have been caught up in that as well.

Jason Kander:

Oh absolutely. It's such an insightful question. And you have to have had the experience that you and I have had to ask it. And that is that we all, for those who need a reference point, everybody knows the small business owner whose business has been successful. They employ 15, 20 people, but they just don't like doing it anymore. And they could probably sell it, but they're like, and they could go do something else or maybe even they could be done. They could retire. And they don't. And they don't for a really, really valid reason, which is there's other people in the business are counting on him. If they sell it, they don't know what'll happen to it. They don't know what'll happen to those families. My dad had a business like that when I was young and then he did sell it. And then a lot of those people lost their jobs. And it really upset him.

But it weighs very heavily on you. I mean we hear small business owners, all the time, talk about how like, "Look, I have a responsibility here. I mean, I have a lot of people counting on me." It's a real thing. And we underestimate how, at a certain level, that really happens with politics.

It was really two things for me. I mean, first I decided that I couldn't run for President. I had to run for mayor instead. I didn't publicly say why at that point, but I was making this choice. I didn't even tell my team the real reason. I even tried to convince myself that that wasn't the reason, but that was the reason. It's just, I was exhausted. I couldn't do it anymore.

One of the ways that my PTSD manifested was I constantly felt like I was disappointing everyone around me, even though oftentimes that was objectively not the case. I just felt like such a disappointment. And a lot of that was my own projection. But so the idea of disappointing these people who had dedicated so much to my political fortunes... It's one of the things that I've never been able to understand about some politicians. I mean, there are politicians, like any other line of work, who are just shitty bosses. Politicians who just… they're not good to the people who work for them. And I've fundamentally never been able to understand. I'm not trying to be like what a good guy I am. I'm just, I'm saying what I've never fundamentally understood about that is that this is not like other jobs. I mean, this is like all these people who work for you on a campaign, they are there solely dedicated to the proposition that you get a job with no guarantee that they get a job at the end of it. That's like, how do you not feel indebted to those people all the time? And that's how I felt. And when you put on top of that, that I felt indebted to everyone all the time, because I felt like I hadn't done enough. And I had this huge quest for redemption going on as a means to make myself feel better, that wasn't working. It was really hard to be like, "I'm not going to run for President. I'm going to run for this," which required a smaller team. My guy Abe, who ran all my stuff, said to me at one point during that, he said, "Not a lot of people in American history have had the chance to decide not to run for President." Which was true. It was a big, a big thing. And I consider it a privilege. But boy, it wasn't a choice for the people who ended up not able to do it with me. And then when I said, I'm not going to run for mayor either, and I'm going to opt out of everything. I had people with me who, I had some people who working for me had been the only thing they'd ever done in their career, and they'd done it for a decade. And they've all turned out, they're all in great places and everything, but I felt like I was letting those people down enormously. So it was really difficult.

The other thing was that when I made the jump from state level politics to national politics, I did something that... And I don't know that I deserve any credit for this, I did this because strategically it was the best thing for me, because I happened to have the best people. But I got the opportunity to do something that most don't. Usually when you go from like Secretary of State, or something, like I was to running for the US Senate, what happens is that the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee or whatever the Republican version is if you're doing that, they kind of say, "Okay, now that you're doing that, here's the A team. Here's who you're going to have." It's like, when I don't know, like you have a band, and you do well with your band, and then you win American Idol, and they're like, "Here's your real band now." That's kind of how it usually works. In my case, I knew that the people I had were the best, and that they weren't going to give me anybody who was better. And the other thing I knew was that there was this thing that goes on in that circuit, in national politics, where if they give you your own campaign, they give you campaign people who are their people. Well there's tension between the organization that runs the stuff in Washington and your local level. And if you have the person, as wonderful as they may be, who knows they're going to get their next job, whether you win or lose, from the organization in DC, well, that's where their loyalty's going to be.

And I made the calculation of, "No, I want the person whose loyalty is going to be to me because they're my friend." And that was a big, crucial turning point in me having those kind of relationships, because keeping Abe and Kellyn, and people like that, as my central team. And the other people who we added to it, they were wonderful and they fit in great and everything. And I'm not knocking them in any way. But keeping Abe and Kellyn there, that really set the tone and the culture for what that campaign was going to be. And then when it turned into, later, basically a quasi president, well, a presidential campaign in waiting, that was really just running. Well, I still had that same team, but now I had built the team through the Senate race and we were Team Kander. So I ended up with those very close relationships. Whereas usually what happens is like you're the lead singer, and they keep giving you different backup bands. And that's just not what happened for me. So it's hard for me to speak to what happens on the other side of the aisle, because actually, Ken, I think that I had the unique experience of having something that happens almost never on my side of the aisle, to the level it did for me.

Ken Harbaugh:

Well, you certainly had an A team. There probably isn't a Democrat of voting age who hasn't seen your gun ad. And that was inspiring to me. We hired Mark Putnam, after that, for my campaign.

Jason Kander:

I think a few people did, I think.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah, I think a few people did. Last time we chatted, I was nudging you, like just about everybody else in your orbit and allow this to be my apology, to jump back in.

Jason Kander:

Don't apologize.

Ken Harbaugh:

We were looking at Missouri, and the state of the race, and the panic was setting in, and you made this comment to me, that Missouri is a white man factory. Which I don't know-

Jason Kander:

I said that? That's funny. I don't remember that.

Ken Harbaugh:

I took it to mean, look, there's no shortage of middle-aged white dudes willing to run for office in places like Missouri. What's extraordinary about that insight is the implicit rejection of this idea, which almost every politician at your level internalizes, that you're indispensable.

Jason Kander:

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Ken Harbaugh:

That you are a one man history maker. And you don't buy that about yourself.

Jason Kander:

I used to. It used to be my central idea of who I was. It was really the only identity I had for myself. That I was destined to do this, and that I had kind of given into the idea that I was destined to live a short life of consequence, that was not really experienced by me, but seemed to have been really important to other people. And now I'm in a very different place in my life where I'm like, "I think I actually have earned the right to enjoy my life." And I'm doing that. And I mean I coached my son's Little League Team since stopping running for office, since getting therapy. My wife and I have had a second child. I have a daughter. I'm playing baseball again. I have a double header tonight. Like not softball, like baseball. I'm enjoying my life. I have this job I love.

And to your point, when I look at politics, it's interesting how some of my friends who I came up with, and they don't mean this in a bad way. And they usually don't say it out loud, but I get the sense from some of them that sometimes they get frustrated that there is a strong desire often by the electorate, particularly on the left, exclusively on the left, to nominate more people of color, more women. And that white men don't always have a place at that table, or at least they don't have the inside track to that table that they used to. And I'm not saying like, "Oh, what a great guy I am." I'm just like, "This makes a lot of sense to me." I'm just like, "I don't think we've been exactly crushing it, white men, over the last 20 or whatever years." And look, I think I have a unique experience to bring to things. And someday I may run for President. But I don't have any interest in it right now. And I don't look at the field, the potential field, if Biden were to run or whatever, and go, "What's lacking from that is me." Like that, I absolutely need to be in there. I just don't. I look at it and I go, "Yeah, I think I'd do a pretty good job." Am I a hundred percent sure that I would in every way do better? No, I don't. And when people talk to me about stuff like accepting cabinet positions, I'm Like, "Well, I really like my son's group of friends. And I really like living here at home in Kansas City. I like working out at 10:00 AM if I want to." I like that stuff. So I'm going to keep doing that. And then somebody will say to me, "But you could make such a difference there." And I'm like, "Yeah. But would the difference I make be so much more than the difference somebody else makes that I should derail my life to do it. I don't think so." And so it's kind of a liberating thing when you realize that.

Ken Harbaugh:

Well, I think that is a great note to end on. It's not often that a politician ends an interview with that kind of real humility. So thank you.

Jason Kander:

Yeah, of course.

Ken Harbaugh:

If you still consider yourself a politician.

Jason Kander:

Hey, I'm not sure I do, but once you can fake that level of humility, I mean, you're really good at this.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah. All right. Thanks, Jason. Been great having you on.

Jason Kander:

Thank you.

Ken Harbaugh:

Thanks again to Jason for joining me. Make sure to check out his book, Invisible Storm: A Soldier's Memoir of Politics and PTSD. All his royalties from the book go to the Veterans Community Project. You can find a link to the book in the show description.

If you want to hear more from Jason, check out his interview on our other show, Warriors In Their Own Words. He also co-hosts his own podcast called Majority 54.

You can find Jason on Instagram and Twitter at @JasonKander.

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