“By all objective measures, things have been going well for me the past few months,” writes Jason Kander on his Facebook page. “My first book became a New York Times Bestseller in August. Let America Vote has been incredibly effective, knocking on hundreds of thousands of doors and making hundreds of thousands of phone calls. I know that our work is making a big difference.”
Kander continues, “And last Tuesday, I found out that we were going to raise more money than any Kansas City mayoral campaign ever has in a single quarter. But instead of celebrating that accomplishment, I found myself on the phone with the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line, tearfully conceding that, yes, I have had suicidal thoughts. And it wasn’t the first time.”
Now for the shocker: “To allow me to concentrate on my mental health, I’ve decided that I will not be running for mayor of Kansas City.”
In 2016, when he challenged Roy Blunt for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, Kander had made his four-month stint in Afghanistan a selling point. In his most memorable ad, he stripped and reassembled an assault rifle blindfolded while criticizing those who attacked him for his support of background checks.
Kander surprised his followers when he chose to run for mayor of Kansas City. The job seemed beneath his aspirations. In his Facebook post he justified that decision by saying, “I thought that if I could come home and work for the city I love so much as its mayor, I could finally solve my problems.”
Like most veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, Kander did not see combat during his four-month posting. According to the New York Times, which posted a glowing tribute to Kander, he “spent months driving deadly highways to investigate dangerous warlords and ostensible allies who sometimes hid rampant corruption through murder.”
In his definitive piece for Vanity Fair, reporter Sebastian Junger, who has seen more combat than most veterans, observes, “A 2007 analysis from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council found that, statistically, people who fail to overcome trauma tend to be people who are already burdened by psychological issues—either because they inherited them or because they suffered trauma or abuse as children.”
The Junger piece is worth reading. Whatever the cause of the affliction that troubles Kander, one suspects that he will be back in political action before too long. In the meantime, the mayor’s race has been thrown wide open.