Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Why I Wanted to Be President—In the Fifth Grade

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When I was in fifth grade, I was very interested in politics. In fact, I wanted to be president of the United States.

I didn’t just want to be president someday. I thought I would make a pretty good candidate that year—1984. The idea of age restrictions on voting or the presidency struck me as absurd.

My mother recently dug up an essay I wrote in the fifth grade in answer to the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up.”

Some of my other ideas weren’t as absurd as an eleven-year-old president. I thought the president should keep us out of war, improve welfare spending, raise educational standards, and not raise taxes. I also thought that personal charity was important.

One thing important to me was that I would get to live in the White House.

I was very much not an internationalist. I want to keep “our country” out of wars. And I wanted to “end poverty in our country.” There’s hand-waiving in my piece about keeping “world peace”—but that seems more to reflect my view that US military intervention was an important threat to peace.

I would say that I was a bit too ambitious about what politics could accomplish. I thought that money saved by cutting defense spending could be used to improve welfare and public services—which meant I didn’t realize that the problems with welfare and public services were not caused by lack of funding.

Here’s the essay:

Why I want to be president?

I want to be president so I can help our country and keep it out of wars.

I would suggest a long term plan that would cut defence [sic] spending by 40%. Enough to keep old projects going and leave room for a few new ones. With that money, I could make better welfare and more public services. I would have the [illegible] of education raise there standards. I wouldn’t raise taxes for people.

I would create a food center out of my own money for the poor. I would like to keep world peace, live in the White House and end poverty in our country.

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