Back in 2007, I was a brand new adult. Having been disenfranchised by a conservatively run town, state, and nation, I was eager to change the world and ensure that my children never had to see or experience the things I did. And although having grown up in Texas did place some conservative leanings in my belief system, I found myself to be consistently liberal in most facets and supported any candidates that railed against the status quo of the time. Granted, in retrospect, I’m sure I’ll miss the old ways pretty soon.
One candidate running for president that shared the same vision of peace that I did was Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich, Democratic candidate for president in the 2008 presidential election. “Strength Through Peace” was a message that resonated with me, as the Iraq war was the main concern for most voters at the time. Seeing the likes of George W. Bush or Dick Cheney destabilize an entire region of the globe for oil was unconscionable to me and all I really wanted was the exact opposite.
So when I discovered that the campaign was hiring paid interns in Cleveland, I was thoroughly excited to submit my name for consideration. The position was to pay $400 a month stipend, as well as providing housing and food. The fact that I would have to leave Texas was also a great selling point. I really felt this was going to be the best thing to happen to me in my short adult life.
Very shortly after inquiring upon the position, I received a call from the deputy campaign manager offering me the position. Because it’s been nine years, I’ve forgotten the name of the man, but I remember the title. We seemed really excited to have reached an agreement and looked forward to my arrival in two weeks. I was so confident in how well this was going to work out, I quit my job, gave notice where I was living, and purchased a bus ticket to Cleveland.
The day before my anticipated departure, I called the man who had originally called me to remind him of my arrival. He did not originally remember who I was, which upset me greatly given how I had upended my life for their cause. When he finally did remember me, I was informed that I was supposed to head to New Hampshire instead of Cleveland. When I explained how this would be a problem, given that I had no way to make my way from Cleveland to New Hampshire, I was told that my services would not be needed as a result.
Because the campaign failed to provide essential information related to my travel, I was told that I would receive a refund of $83 from them for the trouble. Not sure why they couldn’t just put me on a bus to make it to New Hampshire, but whatever.
I was a poor white adult with no familial support. I had no friends, and no strong attachments of any kind. And although I was able to get my job back, I found myself homeless with winter coming up quickly. All I wanted was to find a place to live, and the thought of $83 coming to me really was a great help, as every penny was needed to get my life back on track.
The money never came. Instead, about two weeks later, I called the same man I had been speaking with to inquire upon an anticipated disbursement date. Rather than getting the information I was seeking, I was instead told by a man who could still not remember me that I would not receive a refund and denied any wrongdoing by the campaign. This would be the last time I would directly speak to anyone with the campaign.
My life after this incident definitely took an interesting turn. Had I never spoken with anyone from the campaign, my life would have been significantly different. Whether or not it would have been better, I don’t know. But because of where I relocated, I later met my future wife. My future wife, Carol, would turn out to be incredibly sickly and I would spend our entire relationship taking her from doctor to doctor, feeling like a wet nurse rather than a significant other. I would make many poor decisions along the way to cope with my shitty life, and subsequently would continue to make them after my relationship with my wife ended.
The connection between the Kucinich campaign and my terrible life was not lost on me. For the last nine years, I have periodically trolled Dennis Kucinich on Facebook, hoping to gain the attention of the actual man whose campaign helped ruin my life. I would usually be direct and simply ask for the $83 owed to me, but often I would be ugly with him and exhibit attention seeking behavior. That that’s what I wanted: Dennis to notice me. Even though I never expected to receive the money owed to me, I hoped that perhaps I could explain to him just how his campaign impacted my life.
A few weeks ago, I sent a DM on Facebook to the Dennis Kucinich page once again asking for my $83. This time, I finally received a reply.
Dennis apparently does run his own page these days. I don’t know if he always had control of it or if this is a recent development since losing his seat in congress after redistricting in 2012. But he in fact sent me my $83, as well as one of his congressional advertisement football cards, which made me laugh.
After informing him that the money order had arrived, he ended our communication with “Promise made. Promise kept.”
I did get the opportunity to briefly explain, much like I did on this blog, just how his campaign affected my life. The truth is that there’s no way to ever know if I would have been better or worse off, but I do know it was a significant impact that forever altered the course of my life. And to have this long standing petty debt finally resolved kind of takes away some purpose out of my life. Trolling Dennis Kucinich’s Facebook page for the last nine years became a way of life for me, rather like Donald Trump being routinely audited. Now what do I do? He resolved a problem as soon as he discovered it. Now I kinda feel like a dick.
Regardless, Dennis Kucinich actually came through. One less person to hold a grudge against. Thank you for making my life just a bit easier to swallow.