A Working Candidate — My Day Job

10 mins read

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I am often asked “how is the campaign going?” by voters in the district and by family and friends living far away. 

Unsurprisingly, COVID has forced our campaign to shift dramatically—but effectively, I believe, all things considered. We do a lot by Zoom but still use our campaign office in Salt Lake City as an occasional meeting place for small groups of our staff and volunteers. We have adjusted by offering policy-specific Zoom sessions to all interested. Last week, our first, we covered health care and had a large turnout (over 80). This Wednesday, we will discuss education.

I also point out to friends that I remain … a working candidate. I am not in a position to self-fund this campaign. And have bills to pay—yes, including for ongoing repairs to that well-traveled but ever-trusty 17-yr old Toyota truck of mine. And so, I continue to teach Marines online through Marine Corps University, where I hold an endowed chair. It is a very rewarding part-time job. My current course is titled, “Home Fronts as Warfronts: The Civilian Experience in War.” Enrollment includes Marines of all ranks—sergeants to colonels and across military specialties (infantry, intelligence, logistics, and so on) and who are stationed and live in places as far-flung as Japan, Europe, North Carolina, Virginia, California, Asia, and the Middle East. 

Here is the course poster, which has a photo I took in 2008 of a group of Afghan girls in Khost, Afghanistan, at a U.S.-sponsored medical clinic.

Civilian experience of war

Below is part of the class introduction:

The goal of this course is to provide the student with a broad historical overview and deeper understanding of how war affects civilian populations. The first half of the course will focus on the civilian experience in the U.S. Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam. The last half will examine the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Firsthand accounts by civilians and U.S. military personnel will be integrated into readings and class material, including documentary film excerpts.

National-level policymakers and war planners have often underestimated the human costs and consequences of war. This has been particularly true at the outset of conflicts assumed to be easily “won” or short in duration. Some wars have included the eventual intentional targeting of civilian populations as a matter of wartime strategy—bombings of London, Tokyo, and Dresden among other locations during World War II.

One of the most popular parts of the course is a panel discussion of Marine veterans who served in Fallujah during the biggest battle of the Iraq War—how they experienced war at the time (when much younger) compared to now. I was there with them. The video includes the perspective of a battalion commander, junior officers, a sergeant major and many enlisted Marines. Two recorded Skype sessions I facilitated, one with an Iraqi in Fallujah and another with an Afghan in Kabul, bring home how much war and violence have affected Iraqi and Afghan families over decades.

Teaching Marines while running for office makes me a better candidate. It is a good break from Utah politics—along with my long runs in my New Balance running shoes—and reminds me why I chose to take on incumbent Chris Stewart in the first place.

We need people in government who have lived the human costs of war and how failed policies and dysfunctional government can get people killed. Iraq was that kind of failure. The administration’s failures regarding COVID, tragically, the same.

Across the district, voters often thank me for not losing sight of Congress’s proper role in checking out-of-control presidents when it comes to war & peace issues, not just on domestic matters. Small town cemeteries and war memorials across CD2 reinforce the human toll, including this one in Minersville, Utah (pop. 907), where my grandmother grew up. (She was a Carter—note how many Carter Family veterans are listed.)

Minersville War Memorial
Minersville War Memorial

Your support in this campaign will help make it more likely that someone who somehow survived seven consecutive years in two wars can take that experience with him to Washington. I am running on health care, jobs, accountability in government—but also to make sure the U.S. never starts another unnecessary war.

I also hope you will take the time to read these two OpEds that I wrote, published by New York Times. One is co-written with a retired Marine 3-star general. Each piece shows how important it is to have commanders in chief of character, conscience, and wisdom. I would argue the same holds true for Members of Congress.

And if you happen to have a copy of my book, please read or re-read the chapter titled, “When Senators and General Talk” (it covers Congressional Delegation visits to Iraq and Afghanistan), which has this epigraph:

GENERAL JACK D. RIPPER: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?

GROUP CAPTAIN LIONEL MANDRAKE: No, I don’t think I do, sir, no.

GENERAL JACK D. RIPPER: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, fifty years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought.

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Thank you for your time and ongoing support, which has enabled this writer-teacher-candidate with a part-time day job to work with a great team as we see real momentum three months from Election Day.

If I am elected, there will be a strong voice in Washington to ensure that U.S. policy matches the sacrifice of our troops and their families. A congressman who will also always take into account the people who live in distant lands that never get a vote in our elections … but often pay a big price, too, when we get our elections dead wrong.

Together, we can begin the repair work at home and abroad on November 3rd.

We must.

Kael Weston

This campaign is only possible through donations. Thank you for your support.

Support Our Campaign

Please RSVP for Weds @ 12:30PM

Policy Lunch with Kael Weston

Kael invites you to participate in a series of weekly lunchtime conversations with him about urgent policy issues that require serious leadership and personally impact the people who live and work in Utah’s 2nd congressional district.

When you RSVP, you will receive login information and a method for submitting your questions prior to these virtual events.

Policy Lunch with Kael Weston: Education
Wednesday, August 19, 12:30 pm

From landmark bills—the GI Bill in 1944, LBJ and his Democratic Congress’ Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965, President Obama’s student loan reform in 2010—Democrats have worked to ensure that quality public K-12 education and affordable college are available for all and that America can compete in a global marketplace. Kael Weston is running in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District to repair the current administration’s, and specifically Rep. Chris Stewart’s efforts to degrade public education and erect roadblocks to opportunities for millions of American students.

Join Kael for the second in series of Policy Lunches focusing on Education, Wednesday, August 19th, at 12:30 pm, for a lively, one-hour discussion of the issues, including affordability of higher education, the burden of student loan debt, decades or underfunding and inequality, and what’s pressing most on the minds of parents right now—how best to safely educate their children during a pandemic.


Wednesday, August 12 – Healthcare/COVID – Video available

Wednesday, August 19 – Education – THIS WEEK
Wednesday, August 26 – Public Lands
Wednesday, September 9 – Foreign Affairs 
Wednesday, September 16 – Civil Rights 
Wednesday, September 23 – Jobs & the Economy
Wednesday, October 7 – Accountability & Ethics in Government

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

A native Utahn, Kael Weston served for over a decade in the U.S. State Department, including seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his government career, specific assignments included: U.S. representative on the UN Security Council’s Al Qaeda/Taliban Sanctions Committee in New York; Iraq team, Political Section, U.S. Mission to the United Nations; State Department Political Adviser to a dozen Marine commanding generals, including during and after the biggest battle of the Iraq War (Fallujah, 2004-2007). In this role, he and Marine leaders were responsible for rebuilding the city’s infrastructure, facilitating the return of hundreds of thousands of Fallujans back into the city, establishing a new city council despite numerous assassinations of local politicians, and working closely with Iraqi governors in Ramadi and central Iraqi government representatives in Baghdad. Several nation-wide elections and a constitutional referendum were held across Iraq during this time.

In eastern Afghanistan’s Khost Province, Kael helped prioritize over $50 million dollars in U.S. reconstruction funds and worked to reintegrate former Taliban fighters in coordination with U.S. military leaders and Khost’s Afghan governor. He also met with a group of former Guantanamo Prison detainees and helped lead U.S. government political engagement with Afghan tribal and religious leaders. In Helmand Province, he worked directly with a Marine commanding general during the 2008-2009 U.S. troop surge that doubled Marine forces in the area from just under 11,000 to almost 20,000.

Kael is the author of the book, The Mirror Test (Knopf, 2016) a New York Times Editors’ Choice (NYT Book Review) and Military Times’ Best Book of the Year. He has taught at the college level in Utah and in Quantico, Virginia, at Marine Corps University, as well as leading seminars at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Kael writes monthly for the Salt Lake Tribune and has contributed to NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Daily Beast, and other publications.

For Kael Weston’s multi-year service in Fallujah, Iraq, the State Department awarded him the Secretary of State’s Medal for Heroism.

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