Cole R. Michigan

It's Time to Grow Up

An actual letter to the next President, wherein the citizens (rather, a citizen) of the United States challenge the governance to hold themselves to a higher standard.

Dear Mr./Mrs. President,

Today, October thirty-first, two thousand sixteen (8 days prior to the upcoming presidential election), I am tasked with writing to you on an issue which I feel strongly about, so as to aid in the expression of the concerns of the next generation of voters. To my discredit, I am to turn this very letter in online, tomorrow, having had several weeks to work on it, although I am doing most of the work today. You may think that with this statement I have destroyed the validity of any statements and/or arguments that follow. I beg to differ. In fact, this circumstance is an incredibly important part of why (more importantly, what) I am writing to you today.

You see, as I sat down to write this letter, I first had to decide just what I would write you about. I knew that the more frivolous matters (in relation to the survival of the country, at least), such as college costs, the environment, LGBT rights, as well as the other issues which especially pertain to my contemporaries, have already been talked about; I likely could not say anything novel on these matters. Thus, I sought to fight either against the electoral college, or for term limits for all federal officials. However, upon further research (beyond discussing such matters with friends and family), I have found that perhaps I was too hasty in my choice of a side on these matters. At this, I began to despair; “Oh, what’s the point” I thought. “Even if the president were to read what I have to say, they would never listen to the concerns of an adolescent”. “They would simply continue as they did before”.

It was then that I discovered my challenge for you, Commander-in-Chief; As a citizen of this nation (and a member of the generation whom your decisions during every second of your time in office arguably affects most), I hereby challenge you, and every President that follows, to fight corruption by leading by example.

(In short, due to the accelerated timeline on which I am writing, I have discovered, perhaps, and even greater issue to address than I had thought of previously).

What, exactly, is meant by this challenge, you may ask? Well, let us first speak of how both of the major candidates conducted themselves during this most recent race for the oval office:

When hearing of the happenings of the recent series of so-called “debates”, I could not help but notice how little actual arguing occurred, and how much name-calling and berating (primitive ad-hominem fallacies) occurred. What’s done is done: however, I challenge you to use your newfound position (and the influence that comes with it, even after your retirement from the presidency) to discourage this behavior in the future. I do not mean to assault you personally, but what has been witnessed in these past few weeks should not be how presidential candidates, people who the citizenship of the United States are evaluating as potential candidates to take up the heavy mantle of “leader of the free world”, should behave, simply put. All that is accomplished by finger-pointing and name calling is reducing oneself to a state like that of a child, only making a bad situation worse by escalating that which should not have been cause for such uproar in the first place. Instead of forming a strong argument, and supporting said argument with solid evidence, both nominees’ argument as to why we should elect electors that favor them is simply that we shouldn’t elect the other nominee. “Nasty Woman!”, “Wrong!” Mr. Trump exclaims. “Hot-Head!”, “Sexist!” Mrs. Clinton retorts. Whether or not anything either said about one another is true is irrelevant in the case of making an appeal for the presidency: Please, speak not of why your opponent shouldn’t be elected; Rather, speak of why you should be elected. I do not mean to say that voters should not take the character of the candidates into account in their decision, or that all statements as to why a particular candidate shouldn’t be elected aren’t valid, but it isn’t the candidates place or responsibility to point such reasons out. The presidency, though much more consequential on a global scale, should not be so far from a job interview: a candidate is there to argue as to why they should be hired. They have no place speaking of why their opponents should not be hired. “But what about free speech!?” I hear from the back. My friend, this proposed stipulation is not an attack on free speech: The candidates can express their opinions freely. In fact, I would encourage them to be completely transparent as to where they stand, without fear of the opinions of others. However, the opinions and arguments should be limited to how a particular candidate plans to make this nation, and the world, a better place during the time they would spend in the oval office, as well as where they stand on social issues.

Secondly, let’s address the system of political parties in our loose union of states: Since nearly the time of George Washington’s (he who warned the infant nation of the dangers of political parties with incredible foresight) retirement from the presidency, Americans have been dividing themselves into Democratic-Republicans and Federalists; That is, Democrats and Republicans. These two groups have dominated the political landscape from the beginning. And thus, largely, their views are the only opinions represented in the White House (actually, I’ve never heard of a third party ever winning the presidency). Sure, they are a convenient way to sum up (or generalize and stereotype) a person’s beliefs based upon the party with which they identify, but they also present a rather large problem: rather than accepting that their beliefs are different, and trying to maintain an open mind so as to reach compromise, it seems that the population of the U. S. (those who work in the District included) is entirely adamant in their position, unwilling to relent. We end up with a situation not unlike that old story from Mr. Seuss that we knew as children: “The Tale of the Zax”. In this nation you are either a North-going Zax, or a South-going Zax. When you encounter someone going in the opposite direction as you, most cannot take even one step to the side, which would allow you both to continue on your merry way. No, instead, you simply stand in one spot, blocking one another’s path, bickering and bickering, even as the rest of the world moves on without you. I think I heard it best said on social media, from a page that supports the message of Anonymous, the international social justice coalition of hackers: “Imagine what 7 billion humans could accomplish if we all loved and respected one another”. Dear Sir/Ma’am, I am not saying that you must relinquish your political parties. I merely ask that you would encourage healthy consideration and discussion of ideas, positions, and opinions, even if they do not reflect your own, for the sake of moving forward.

However, in spite of all of this, I cannot tell you how to run your presidency. I, in the end, am merely a concerned citizen (a minor, no less) with no standing or power. I merely ask that you might keep these critiques from eyes outside of the political stew in mind in your decisions in the coming years, Mr./Mrs. President. Hopefully, we’ll soon be looking at a future much brighter than we received it.


-Cole Rudolph    

Clarkston Community Schools

Early American Literature Hour 2

Seniors in high school writing an argument using rhetorical devices of 18th American writers.

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