Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) was the keynote speaker at the Johnson County Democratic Committee’s Kirkpatrick dinner in Warrensburg last night.
Video by Jerry Schmidt.
Secretary of State Jason Kander (D): ….so, speaking of the Senate, there is another Senate that I was gonna speak about tonight a little bit and that, that’s the U.S. Senate. But, before I get started I wanted to begin by sort of taking the temperature of the room, so to speak, a little bit. So, I recently read this article that said less than one in five people actually approve of the job that’s being done by Congress in D.C. So, I just thought, by a show of hands, uh, raise your hand if you approve of the work that’s being done [laughter] by the House and the Senate in D.C. Don’t, don’t be shy, it’s okay. [laughter] Okay, I , that’s interesting. Uh, I had a feeling that that fifteen percent approval rating thing was kind of an exaggeration. [laughter] Uh, and this, this proves it, so, so I appreciate it.
Um, so, you know, as you, as you may have heard, uh, I am, I am running for the United States Senate. Uh, and I [applause] …and so I thought I’d take just a few moments tonight and explain to you why I think things have gotten so bad in Washington, why I think I’m the right person to bring a little common sense out there. Now, uh, Democrats and Republicans and Independents all agree that the folks in Washington, they’re not representing us anymore. They stand up for each other, they stand up for special interests, for millionaires and huge corporations, they stand up for pretty much everybody other than the people who sent them there in the first place. And that’s why this election in twenty-sixteen is gonna come down to one pretty simple question. Do you like how things are going in Washington? Now, if you do then you might want to stick with the status quo. If you don’t, if you think that we can do better, well then, it’s time to give somebody else, somebody else a chance. And, I for one happen to be among the eighty-five percent of Americans who don’t approve of Congress and I intend to do something about it.
So, when I look at this race, I’ll tell you, uh, what I see is a problem in D.C. generally with the politicians, frankly, on both sides of the aisle. You know, we, we look at the politicians out there and it’s not that, uh, the senators out there are, are bad people. It’s just that, uh, they’ve lost touch with the people who sent them there in the first place, right? When, when a politician has been in Washington for ten, fifteen, twenty years and served in both the House and in the Senate Washington becomes their home. That’s where they make their lives, that’s where they send their kids to school, it’s, it’s where they, it’s where they live and it becomes their home. And, you know, frankly when you had over a hundred flights on corporate jets then probably the free live TV on Southwest flights is not as exciting for you [laughter] as it is for the rest of us, right? And when you live in a multimillion dollar mansion in Washington, D.C. , then I could see where it could be hard to leave sometimes, right? The truth is, that there’s all these different reasons why these members of Congress, uh, forget where they came from, how, how easy it is for them to forget where they came from in the first place. Uh, but that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make it right for them to forget where they came from. We don’t send senators to Washington so that they can vote with their political party nearly ninety percent of the time. We send them there so they can vote with Missouri a hundred percent of the time. [applause] And you don’t send senators to Washington so they can get rich. We send them there so they can fight to help middle class Missourians provide for their families and make ends meet. And we don’t send senators to Washington so they can climb the leadership ladder of their political party as fast as possible. We send them there to take on their party bosses when they need to. That’s why we send them there. [applause]
So, we deserve an independent minded senator who put Missouri first every minute of every day. Senator Blunt has been in Washington so long he just can’t do that anymore. Washington has become his home and lobbyists and his political party have become his constituents. That doesn’t make him a bad person, but it doesn’t make him a good senator, either. Senator Blunt votes with his party more than the average Republican and he misses more votes than the average senator. And Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington called him one of the most corrupt members of Congress. Is that what we sent him to Washington to do? Is that what we want in our senator?
The folks out in D.C., they’re not doing a good job right now. And so it is time for the next generation to step up and take the lead in shaping the direction of our state and nation. And that is exactly what I hope to do as your Unites States Senator. [applause]
My parents taught me from a very early age the importance of public service. My mom was a juvenile probation officer and my dad was a police officer. So, in our house we did not get away with anything at all, in this case. [laughter] And when I was very young my parents took in kids whose own families where struggling and, and these boys they became my unofficial brothers. And we learned a lot from my parents. There was no conversation about whether or not that would happen, it was just what they did ’cause it was the right thing to do. And so I grew up in a house where my folks taught us the importance of public service, they taught us that doing the right thing is what you have to do every time. You don’t, you don’t just do what’s easy. But, that’s what courage is. They, they taught us the meaning of duty. We all understood it.
And so that’s why when I saw the planes hit the twin towers on nine-eleven I knew that I was gonna join the Army. The recruiters told me that I should wait and become an Army lawyer, but I figured the Army probably had enough lawyers and that I could make a greater impact as a soldier. So, I, I ignored their advice. And after a few years in uniform I volunteered to be deployed in Afghanistan. And so in October of two thousand six I went over to Afghanistan and I, I conducted, uh, investigations of groups and individuals that were suspected of corruption and espionage, drug trafficking, and facilitating Al Qaeda and the Taliban. I investigated corruption at the highest levels of the Afghan government. And I advised my superior officers about when to consider removing corrupt government officials. In civilian terms it was my job to figure out which bad guys would be [inaudible] good guys and posed a threat to Afghan democracy. And I took pride in my work. And so it meant a lot to me when of my senior officers in an evaluation quoted an Afghan commander who said that my work directly resulted in arresting enemies and saving lives.
My deployment wasn’t easy. I learned a lot, but it wasn’t easy. There were times when I was dressed in street clothes, gathering intel, just two or three other soldiers or alone in an unarmored SUV with just a translator and no backup. But being a soldier is the best job that I’ve ever had. And leading American soldiers is greatest professional honor of my life. [applause]
And of all the missions that I took part in when I was in Afghanistan there is one that always stands out to me when I think about the meaning of public service and duty. I worked with the Afghan Army to escort a newly elected member of the Afghan Parliament from the capital to her home. And she lived under a constant threat of death, not because she had made radical statements or had pushed an agenda that would, that would have elicited violence. It was simply because she was a woman. And I have often imagined what it must have been like when she went to take a so-called difficult vote in the Afghan Parliament. And I sincerely doubt that she gave a lot of thought to what some lobbyist was asking her to do or what her party, uh, supposedly required of her. I think that with everything that she was risking to be there she just did what she thought was right. And we use this term all the time in American politics – political courage. But I have seen a politician who had to have real courage just to get up go to work. And I remain inspired every day by her service. It inspires me to stand up and do what’s right. And it’s why, when I came home, she was one of the reasons that I, I was even more committed to my country and to the Army than when I left.
And so, I served in the Army National Guard at Fort Leonard Wood and I trained hundreds of new Army officers to lead troops in combat. From my first day as a cadet to my last day as a Captain my time in uniform totaled a little over eight years. And it played a substantial role in shaping my life, my values, and my perspective on the world. And it’s that perspective that led me to give my time to victims of domestic violence, during school, or to leave my job doing corporate legal defense work to represent people like a family farmer who was scammed out of his life savings, or union rail workers who were hurt on the job. It’s that perspective that led me to go to Afghanistan in the first place and train those hundreds of soldiers when I came home. And it’s why I’m running for the United States Senate.
I’m running to be Missouri’s senator. I’m running because we deserve a senator who stands up for the middle class, not millionaires, huge corporations, and lobbyists. I’m running because we need a senator who tells the folks in D.C. that compromise is a part of Democracy, not the enemy of it. And I’m running because we deserve a senator who leads by example, not one that becomes a part of the problem. [applause]
I’m a fifth generation Missourian and I promise I will never forget where I came from. And if you don’t believe me, if you feel like a lot of politicians say that, I figure I’m gonna end this speech by offering you a little bit of proof.
I actually went to college out in Washington, D.C. before my wife Diana joined me out there for law school. We graduated on a Sunday and the next morning we got in our jeep and we drove home to Missouri. We were so excited to move back to Kansas City that we drove through the night for eighteen hours. So, I can promise you that if you elect me as Missouri’s next senator you’ll never lose me to Washington. Thank you very much. [applause]