Presidential Dreams

Savannah wanted to be President when she grew up. Not only did she want to become an American President, she dreamed of being the first woman President. That's the answer she gave when I first met her as a third grader in Mrs. Wilson's Enhanced Learning - a special class for gifted students with abnormally high IQs.

During the time I knew her, my dream job changed several times - from astronaut to actor to architect to radio DJ. While the future careers most kids imagine working evolve as they get older, Savannah remained steadfast. She provided the same presidential answer for icebreakers and class projects when we were in junior high. In high school, she was an active honor roll student playing volleyball and joining the Future Business Leaders of America. She was a hardworking, driven, determined, and wildly intelligent. In a speech delivered during our senior year, she maintained her ambition to be the first woman elected as President of the United States.

After high school was over, I didn't keep track of what happened to Savannah. In the years since, I've never attempted to look her up on social media or Google. I have no idea what she's done with her life. Did she pursue a political career or go into the corporate world? Did she become an entrepreneur or settle into the domestic family life as a stay-at-home mom? Regardless of where she is today, her childhood dream of becoming the first woman to hold presidential office is still alive. For now.

She wasn't the only classmate who wanted to be the POTUS. When asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" there were several others who answered, "The President." However, Savannah was the most ardent among them, and the most memorable. It seemed like a common response for kids growing up in the Reaganomics era. We had an admirable man in office, and we all thought we could do it too.

I don't hear the same aspirations in younger generations. Some of them remember the scandals of Clinton. Many of them grew up listening to the criticism against Bush Jr for the war in Iraq, his poor handling of natural disasters, and his abysmal economic policy. Most saw all the ire heaped upon Obama for every action he took. They are hyper-aware of how much our standing in the world has degraded under Trump. More and more of our youth are jaded to the state of politics and want nothing to do with it. They're taking the Kanye approach, "No one man should have all that power." They'd rather protest the President than one day replace him.

A few kids today still want to become POTUS when they grow up, just not as many as when Savannah and I were kids. It's a shame though. If President Trump has proven anything, it's how anyone can become President. Anyone.

Given the opportunity, who wouldn't take it? If it didn't require a prohibitive treasure chest of financial backing and you could get a party to endorse you, would you be willing to put your name on the ballot? Maybe some of us wouldn't want the high degree of name recognition or the constant disparagement of at least half of our nation. Perhaps the expectations and stress attached to the responsibility of the highest office isn't something we don't want on our shoulders. Hopefully most of us are content enough in our real lives to make the lure of living in the White House unappealing.

If we're honest, we've all at least thought about it. Haven't we? You might not ever want to be the President, but I'm sure you've thought about what you would do if you were in his shoes. I know this because I see how many of us armchair-quarterback the decisions of Presidents both past and present. We either laud or condemn their actions, their executive orders, the bills they sign or veto. We critique the fit of their jeans, the length of their neck tie, the color of their suit jacket, the look of their hair or attire. We judge how much money they spend travelling, how frequently they golf or take vacations, what they say in speeches or press conferences. We log into social media and tell our friends and followers, "The President is wrong because ..."

Every time we do it, we're saying, "I could do better." It's possible we could. Or, at least, we could do the job of presidenting this nation the way we think it should be done better than anyone who has actually been the President. The only person qualified to run America the way you think it should be run is you, and the only person qualified to run America the way I think it should be run is me.

Sure, we may not have ever had the childhood dream of becoming President like my former classmate Savannah. Maybe the desire to hold that office is laughable to us and if anyone asked if we'd be interested, our answer would be "Never." Perhaps. Yet, haven't you ever thought about what you would do if you were President? I know I have.

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