Janks was born, premature, on a cold December evening in Yuba City, California in 1997. His birth mother was 17 years old and a victim of sexual assault. It was very clear to the birth staff at the hospital that this baby would have a tough go at life.
Janks was born with Congenital Amputation to both legs just below the hips. Congenital amputation is caused by blood clots in the fetus or fibrous uterine tissue bands, both of which cut off circulation to the limbs and cause them to be amputated in utero. He was declared a ward of the state and spent his first year of life in foster care with one of the RN’s (she asked to remain anonymous) that delivered him. He was adopted in February, 1999 by Dr. Jacob and Ramona Hanks of Nevada City, California.
We first learned of Janks after seeing him twirling a sign on Broad Street in Nevada City, CA. We asked him if we could speak with him about his enthusiastic political activities. He told us he’d have to check with his Mother. We received a telephone call from him asking us to come to his Nevada City home for an interview.
As we approached the front door of the Hanks home, it sounded as though there might be a pep rally going on inside. Ramona answered the door and invited us in, where we saw Janks, microphone in hand, practicing his stump speeches.
“Let’s do this!” he exclaimed with a colossal smile.
“What a bundle of energy you are, Janks. You are very passionate about this election. Can you tell us why?” We asked.
His wide smile turned very serious and he said, “The obvious answer would be that I just turned 18 and I am now able to have a voice in government.”
There was a long pause We broke the silence by asking, “but, apparently, the obvious answer is not the answer at all?”
Janks snickered, took a deep breath, and laid it all out for us.
“The fact that this will be my first election I am eligible to vote in is huge, of course, but it goes so much deeper than that. This is a serious election at a serious time in our country’s history. We have this huge national debt, and our foreign relations are a nightmare.” Janks said running his hand through his hair as if preparing to say something he was uncomfortable about. “And that’s just the beginning. Immigration is out of control, refugee crises are abounding, global nuclear capabilities under the guidance of mad men, and complete division in our country along racial, political, gender, sexual, and economic divides. We can’t continue on like this.”
There was another long pause. None of us had expected we would show up to meet Janks and get schooled by a young man who had not yet earned his high school diploma.
“For these reasons, I am voting for Hillary Clinton!” shouted Janks.
“You believe that Mrs. Clinton is the answer? Why not Bernie? Aren’t most of the millennials in Bernie’s camp? What about Mr. Trump?” We asked.
“First of all, I am not “most” millennials as you can plainly see,” Janks said with a wry smile. “I do believe Hillary is the answer. She is experienced at every level of our government and the entire world knows her. Who is Bernie? While he is experienced at some levels of government, he seems a bit too positive about putting all these social programs into effect with no way to pay for any of them. And Trump, he just doesn’t seem like a nice man. I’m not sure he cares much about those of us who are struggling out here. What, is he a moron or something? That is why I am taking my message, and Hillary Clinton’s message, to the streets. People need to know. People need to be informed.”
“What about Whitewater? Vince Foster? Bill’s many philanderings? Benghazi? These are just a few examples of Hillary’s very scandalous record. Doesn’t this concern you? How can anyone possibly trust her?” We asked, expecting to trip him up.
Janks looked me up and down with a look of haughty derision.
“Of course these things concern me,” he continued “Everything you have mentioned has been investigated. Has she made mistakes? Yes, but she has learned a lot from those mistakes. We give criminals a second chance, don’t we? Look, there are always secrets and money in politics. If you want to be a mover and a shaker in D.C., you just have to accept that and play ball. Money and power make for strange bedfellows.” he shot me a wink to make sure I got the double entendre aimed at Slick Willie.
“Word on the street is you are the best sign twirler in the county. Is that true?” asked Gish Gallop correspondent Michael Tesh.
“I think there was a vote,” Janks said laughing. “I’ve spent many hours making my signs and twirling them on street corners. I want to be the best. The more people I can engage, the more people I can plant a seed to get them involved.”
“Do you hope to effect a change in the election, the country, the world?” We asked.
“All of the above. My family always told me to reach for the stars, so why not? Our only real handicaps are the ones we place upon ourselves,” beamed Janks.
“You’ve obviously invested a great deal of time and effort into this campaign. Can you give us an idea of your daily schedule? Also, it looks to me like you are preparing yourself to someday be a candidate for political office. True?” asked Gish Gallop, Lou LaPlante.
“In a nutshell, I’m up at 5am, washed up, fed, and dressed by 6. I am home-schooled from 8am til about 1pm. Then I hit the streets and make my magic. As far as my own political designs, yeah, I see myself someday rockin’ a leadership role in Washington.” Janks replied wide-eyed.
Look for Janks twirling his signs in Nevada City or Grass Valley.