Some time ago, my friend Ronnie Kroell made a decision and an announcement (that surprised some) that he was going to join the Presidential race. He believes we need a lot of change and I think our current situation proves exactly that. This election cycle is going to be a long one, but one we can learn so much from. Ronnie is planning to be a part of it all and helping to teach us a bit along the way, I’m sure. I’m not usually political but I did feel that there were some things many don’t know about Ronnie, so I thought if I sat down to ask him a few a questions we might be able to show you more sides of him.
I’m going to let Ronnie introduce those sides via this interview, I hope when you read it you come away knowing a little more about him!
Q: Some may be surprised at your decision to enter the political arena but those you know you well would expect it at some point. For those who don’t know, at what age did you first feel interest in public service? What were some of the ways you’ve been involved?
Ronnie Kroell: I first knew that I had an interest in public service when I was two years old. I remember crawling around on the living room floor of our apartment in Chicago when Ronald Reagan came on TV to address the nation. He completely fascinated me with his charisma, his ability to articulate his message, and by the way he inspired so many people. In that moment, I put my hand on the television and the decision to be a civil servant, more specifically to run for President, was made before I would come to know anything about politics, the major parties, or the corrupt nature of power.
As a toddler, my family would walk me up and down the streets of our neighborhood, Andersonville, where I became known as the Mayor at 5 years old because I knew everyone’s name.
In grade school, I was the treasurer of our student senate.
In second grade, I joined the “Church Kids” group of St. Gregory’s Parish. Every Friday we would clean the church from top to bottom and then celebrate by having a pizza party afterwards. As I grew old enough, I became an alter boy and then a lector.
In high school, I was a peer counselor, served on our peer mediation council, initiated the first National Day of Silence observation on campus, served as a student director of a teen empowerment summit called Snowball, and was a PE leader that taught class for those with special needs.
In college, I was Vice-President and then President of our Student Senate, I sat on the Student Activities Budget Committee, I traveled to Washington DC to lobby for educational funds, and purposefully utilized my voice to speak out for multiple different causes including, but not limited to LGBT Rights, HIV/AIDS Awareness, cancer, and military veterans. Coming from a military family, it was extremely important to me to honor my Grandmother who served as a WAC in WWII, my great uncle that served in the Korean War, my Step-Father that served in Vietnam, and my Father that served in the Army.
At 19, I worked as a Staff assistant to the Illinois Republican Party, I volunteered for political campaigns across partisan lines, and later worked for Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan.
In 2008, I emerged on National television with the show, “Make Me A Supermodel” on BRAVO, where I was openly gay and did my very best to represent myself and the LGBT Community. After the show, I made it a point to leverage my new found spot-light to support causes like HRC, GLAAD, Trevor Project, American Cancer Society, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and more. Politically, I also leveraged my platform to help Hillary Clinton’s first campaign for President. I went out on the road to speak on her behalf, support her platform, and even found myself making phone calls that challenged people’s perception of having a potential female President.
In 2010 I made a splash by posing for PLAYGIRL Magazine with the intention of spreading an artistic message about “Dropping our Labels”; the limiting titles and brands that enable us to self-segregate and fail to see all the things we have in common. Underneath it all, we are beautifully vulnerable human beings worthy of love and acceptance, and our sexuality should NEVER be painted as dirty, wrong, or something that we should have feelings of shame about. Sex is the most natural and fundamental human activity, next to breathing, eating, and of course — everybody poops. Following the publication, I did a multiple city magazine signing tour and donated the proceeds to LGBT Youth Centers & Marriage Equality Organizations.
In 2012, I helped co-found an organization called Friend Movement, committed to healing and preventing the effects of bullying. Instead of being against bullying, we wanted to be “FOR FRIENDSHIP”. Since conception, we’ve produced everything from powerful photo campaigns, a 921 mile cross country walk to raise awareness, homeless feedings, and numerous events that supported the arts and encouraged people from all-backgrounds to get together and connect for the greater good.
Q: You’ve held leadership roles throughout your life and could use the platform you have built to make a difference, plus the state of politics has been quite rocky in recent years. Why was this the right time for you to delve further into it all and take your platform to different levels?
Ronnie Kroell: The time is NOW, because tomorrow isn’t promised. We all have an expiration date, but many of us find distractions from that reality and live as if we have all the time in the world. Spoiler alert — we don’t!
I’m in good health, of sound mind and body, and I’m passionate about using my voice and experience to serve a cause greater than myself. We’re living in a political climate of toxic tribalism, unresolved trauma, radical hatred, and government officials / media outlets that have been literally putting profit over people. I cannot and will not sit on the side-lines while this current reality is preventing our people from thriving.
It’s my duty to stand-up and speak my truth, popular or not.
Q: I know once you set your mind and heart on something, you GO FOR IT. Once you knew this was the right time to be in this arena what steps and actions did you take/are you taking to see it all through?
Ronnie Kroell: The first step I took was to go to wikipedia how and ask, “How do you run for President”. From there, we’ve filed with the FEC, created a legal research team to gain ballot access in all 50 States and territories, we’re assembled a campaign staff, we’re building a platform, and we’re consulting with experts across with many fields to draft “Meet Me in the Middle” policies that are based in love, logic, and empathy.
Q: You are running as an Independent, what made you decide that party was the one for you?
Ronnie Kroell: I am not running as a member of the “Independent Party”, rather I am running as an independent mind and everyday citizen of the United States. Partisan games and the growing GAP in major party ideologies are largely responsible for our current inability to effectively govern and protect our people. In 1994, according to PEW Research, the ideological GAP between Republicans & Democrats was 15%, today that same GAP has grown to 36%. The truth is, we’ve collectively stopped listening to understand, we’ve stopped working to find compromise, and we’ve stopped co-creating solutions. Partisan hatred has literally blocked important legislation from passing over the years, regardless of whom the President is, an example of where Congress honors party over the well-being of the people of whom it was elected to serve.
The United States doesn’t approve of monopolies in business, we have laws against them (although that is debatable today considering only 6 companies control all the major media we consume). SO, why do we allow an extremely polarized duopoly of power like the, Republican & Democratic Machine, go unchecked?
They’ve made it nearly impossible for an independent voice to rise to the top, so much so that even Independent Bernie Sanders figured, “If I can’t beat ’em, I’ll join them”. Both parties have convinced their flocks that a vote for an independent candidate is a waste of a vote or a vote for the “monster” on the other side that is currently in office. Both major parties agree on one thing, that is using fear to continue to pass the baton of power back and forth between Republican and Democratic narratives. In truth though, we don’t have two parties, we have one party. Both parties have come to serve the same masters, the lobbyists and special interests that fund their campaigns through PAC money and perks, privileges, and power offered during behind closed door meetings.
The American public has been sold out from both sides of the aisle, but we need not shame a particular person or party, no good will come from that. NO, what we need to do is identify that the system is broken and be brave enough to take innovative steps to finally fix it. It’s up to “We The People” to take back our power, peacefully, and to reduce the grip of fear, ego, and greed on our political system.
An independent President in the White House is a great start! Someone that sees value in both sides, but that is not loyal to either party. A visionary that is supportive of reconciliation and reformation, giving leadership on both sides an “out”. Both sides are given a way to save face, to refine their party platforms, and to close the ideological GAP that is paralyzing our ability to find solutions and to move forward together.
Q: Your slogan “Meet me in the middle” has been taken by some as an expression of remaining on the middle ground and not taking a stand or possibly committing to one side or the other. This is not what is meant by that at all. Can you explain the true meaning behind it?
Ronnie Kroell: “Meet Me in the Middle” means that regardless of where we might fall on the political spectrum, what our current understanding of the issues are, or whom we support for office — We agree that we will meet respectfully with the intention of listening, finding common ground, making reasonable compromise, and co-creating solutions that protect ALL Americans.
Over 60% of respondents of a poll I offered on social media said that they had lost a friend or family member over political differences and arguments. That number makes my heart sink. Family members not speaking to one another and friendships of 15, 20, 30 or more years ending over a political disagreement and an inability to put the relationship over the ego. Our country and our people are going through a time of “emotional growing pains”, likened to that of the pain we go through physically at the gym when trying to build our muscles. As muscles need to be ripped and then fed nutrients to grow back stronger than they were before, the same is true of our emotional fitness. It serves no one when we throw our hands in the air, call one another names, and walk away from the conversation, no one wins.
It’s time to heal.
Q: Unfortunately, the media has become just as much (if not more) to blame for the current unrest in our country as the battling political figures themselves. It seems like the role of a leader now, more than ever, also includes making citizens feel safe and not like targets. What do you think we can all do as citizens to prevent ourselves from buying into all of it and causing so much unrest? What do you think leaders can do to help ease the fears?
Ronnie Kroell: In 1983 there were 50 companies that controlled the main-stream media, today there are only 6. If that doesn’t concern US, then we have bigger problems.
6 companies are deciding what we focus on, what we talk about, how we talk about it, and ultimately what we think about the issues: Viacom, ATT, Disney, Comcast/NBC Universal, FOX, and CBS Television.
The best thing we can do is continue this conversation, to wake-up, to ask more questions, and speak truth to power that we will no longer be “sheep-le”. It’s not enough to seek out and know the truth, we must then “Rise-Up” and take clear action that restores the power to the people, the 4th and most powerful branch of government from which all power of the other branches is derived.
Q: Speaking of media and creating battles, I think it would be silly not to address the, um, elephant in the room. You are a model, actor, and activist who also takes care of himself and works out. Social media is a way of sharing our lives, so you do share many aspects of yours, including shirtless progress selfies and the message we should all love ourselves. There have been comments about this and also the fact that you appeared in the ‘Eating Out’ films and posed for playgirl at one point. So, I guess the question is, how does any of that affect your ability to hold office or the job you will do? What do you make of all of it?
Ronnie Kroell: With social media today, we’ve only worsened the problem of depression, mental illness, and suicide. Our culture is putting on a pedestal those that are fabricating and promoting fake lives — It’s literally impossible to be that perfect all the time. In my experience, when I’ve shown up with complete vulnerability and authenticity, it has un-intentionally offended the ego of people that I’ve met. My honesty actually threatens the very facade that they’ve built, causing them to to attack and put me down to feel better about themselves.
As I mentioned before, I do not believe that human sexuality is something dirty or something that anyone should feel shame around expressing — so long as it is consensual and between those (and meant for those) that are of legal age. If people want to judge me in totality for posing for a magazine or posting fitness progress posts at the gym, then that’s really more on them. I would ask them to figure out why I have so much power over how they feel and/or what insecurities have been triggered by looking at my photos/posts
As for how it will affect me or my ability to lead:
I don’t plan to be a candidate that makes fake promises, that speaks in glittering generalities, or that simply tells the public what they want to hear to seduce their vote. I’m just going to keep showing up, keep doing the work, and keep speaking our campaign’s truth.
It will resonate with some, and it might not with others — that’s OK.
Q: I ask everyone this, and I was going to leave it out but I think it shows a lot about someone… What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
Ronnie Kroell: I cannot not live without the gym or some kind of physical activity in my day.
I wish we could all live without the fear of what others might think of us.
Q: Where can people go to find out more (as if they need to know more about you personally haha) about you, support you if they wish, and find out more about what you’re doing as well as your platform?
Ronnie Kroell: They can go to www.ronniekroell.com, or follow @ronniekroell on social media.