JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander returned to Jefferson City on Tuesday evening, but the visit was a little different than previous ones.
This time, instead of delivering speeches as a statewide official or working as a lawmaker, the Democrat turned his hand to something a little different: signing copies of his new book.
“Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in Everyday Courage” is a book written from Kander’s personal story, one that he says is pieced together with instances and stories from his life in a nonlinear fashion.
“In life and in politics, the most important work is often that which happens outside the wire.”
“I wrote this book because I wanted to let people know that there are a lot of folks out there right now who want to make change, including myself,” Kander said.
The term “outside the wire” is a reference to military lingo for “leaving the safety of the base”, and references Kander’s experiences in learning to take risks and make changes instead of settling for what is easy, to learn that it’s good to step out of comfort zones.
In the book, Kander outlines 10 lessons garnered from joining the military following 9/11 to launching his first political campaign, to becoming the future of the Democratic Party, as President Barack Obama called him.
The lessons in his book carry titles like the following, which he shared some of the stories behind: “Experience is good, but perspective is golden;” “Politics is a profession practiced entirely by amateurs;” “Keep it real,” “Politics can be completely absurd. Deal with it; and “Something’s happening here (in America).”
Kander, 37, served two terms in the Missouri House, then was elected as secretary of state in 2012. Following that, he chose to run opposite incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt in 2016, where he lost by about 78,000 votes, though he received more votes than any other Democrat on the ballot, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or then-gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster.
Following his defeat, Kander turned to the nonprofit sector, kicking off the organization “Let America Vote”, working for the purpose of fighting voter suppression and creating consequences for it.
Kander quickly became a national presence for Democrats, and some speculated that he would consider a run for President in 2020. That, however, proved not to be the case as he announced his intent over the summer to run for mayor of Kansas City.
“Over the last year and a half, as I’ve been running Let America Vote, I have been thinking about what the best way was to serve my community, and whether or not that was in elected office,” Kander said. “I am really excited about the opportunity to, potentially, be the mayor of my hometown.
Speaking to the audience on Tuesday night, Kander revealed little about ambitions beyond the mayoral office but urged people to vote for the people who excite them, saying that oftentimes, a candidate who they might feel really good about is someone that others might want to vote for, too. He also urged them to do what they can to change and reform whatever issues they see, also speaking of his support for the Clean Missouri ballot initiative to bring ethics reform to Missouri.
The final question asked of him for the night was why he was a Democrat, to which he simply replied “because I give a damn, and believe in helping others.”
For more on Kander’s book, visit jasonkanderbook.com.
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.