On 24 March 1984, five teenagers spent the day in detention at Shermer High, Illinois. It would change their lives and their politics forever.
John Bender – The Criminal
One day in detention wasn’t about to change John Bender’s outlook on life, but it did get him a new girlfriend in Claire, whom he would later marry. Bender’s views had been cemented early in life. Living with an abusive alcoholic father had bred in him a distrust of authority figures that planted the seeds of libertarianism in his mind. Bender would never graduate from Shermer High – he dropped out soon after that Saturday in detention.
However, free from the shackles of an institutionalised education, Bender’s entrepreneurial nous started to blossom. With a little help from his new girlfriend’s wealthy family, he purchased an Apple Macintosh IIe and dived into the world of software programming. He also developed an interest in the stock market and it wasn’t long before he had combined his two passions, designing a program that could accurately predict commodity price movements.
By the early ’90s, Bender was a made man. Having sold his software to the Bank of America, he established a boutique brokerage firm in Chicago and was soon up to his eyeballs in cocaine and Dom Perignon. Bender’s politics crystallised in this period. He railed against high taxes and Big Government – the government had done nothing for him in the past and now it just wanted to tax self-made men like him. Where was the logic in that?
In 1988 he became interested in Ron Paul’s candidacy for President and the Libertarian Party. Since then he has tended to vote Republican, backing candidates who are pro-market but not pro-life, and in 2012 he is once again hoping Ron Paul will win the Republican presidential nomination.
Claire Standish – The Princess
Soon after joining the Breakfast Club, Claire realised there was more to life than pearl earrings and skiing trips to Colorado. Where was the reward in having life delivered to you on a silver platter?
Enter John Bender. While Bender had started off as simply a grab for attention from her quibbling parents, it soon became apparent that he was much more than that. Reforming John Bender would become Claire’s personal Fix-Her-Upper, the challenge that would bring fulfilment to her otherwise vacuous life. And she loved him for it.
Despite initial misgivings about Bender, Claire’s conservative parents came round to the young man, admiring his ‘organic entrepreneurial spirit’ and it wasn’t long before the couple was happily married. Claire studied PR and encouraged John to enrol in a community college course in business studies. When he wavered with his software design idea, she pushed him forward.
She was also successful in her own right. Upon graduating, she entered into a big-name PR firm and managed several big accounts during the early ‘90s, including for Sega, Pepsi Max, and Janet Jackson. She voted Clinton in ’92, purely out of respect for his rapport with the common man, but swung right in 2000, under the influence of her husband’s anti-tax, small government crusade.
By 2008, Claire’s talent for PR had started to get noticed by the right people in Washington. When she received a call to help out a struggling Hilary Clinton in the race against Obama to secure the Democratic nomination, Claire couldn’t refuse. That fall she came up with her best idea yet – the infamous ‘red phone’ ad.
Despite Clinton’s failed run at the presidency, Claire stayed in Washington and it wasn’t long before she had made the seamless transition from Clinton to the other side of politics, recruited by the Koch brothers to work on strategies for undermining the Obama administration in the lead-up to 2012.