When I was in third grade, my teacher gave me an unrealistic dream.
I was in Mrs. Prince's class with a dejected expression on my face as I looked at our recently-graded math quizzes. I looked around at my classmates and saw their As and Bs. I couldn't help but feel bad about myself. In my hands was a solid D resting above a sea of red ink and crossed-out equations. The only question on the paper I had gotten completely right was my name. Even then, I had trouble with writing capital Ps in cursive.
Mrs. Prince spotted my melancholia and told me to stay after the bell. We talked for a minute or two, after which not only had she agreed to meet with me outside of class, she also told me something that would change my life. She said that if I worked as hard as I could, I could be "the president someday."
My imagination ran wild. I saw myself in a limo, draped on both sides by American flags, a bald eagle perched on my shoulder and Brett Favre (who, being a young Packers fan, I couldn't help but idolize) delivering my inauguration speech. I was now set on the path towards the presidency. All I had to do was work hard and finally master long division (skills I'm not sure Rick Perry has done either).
Needless to say, I no longer think I can be the president. I'm a history major whose longest term of employment is at this newspaper. I'm not a member of the Skull and Bones or even an Ivy Leaguer. Essentially, I'm not qualified to be president, which suits me perfectly. This is because, as I found out, that I — in no way — would want to be president. Honestly, no one should ever want to be president.
Think about it — being the president is the worst job there is. While there are undeniable perks about the job (having your own security staff and being able to get over a thousand likes and retweets for every social media update you make are a few), they pale in comparison to the negatives. For starters, at the most I would have only eight years of job security, and after that I am in a stasis of retirement. Also, no matter what I do, over a hundred million people will disagree with my every decision. I'd never get a moment's peace, and would essentially be an ER doctor on-call for four to eight years. I wouldn't even be able to go on vacation without having the media and a team of security following my every move. The only people under more scrutiny than the president are A-list celebrities, but at least they can get away with making dumb comments.
It takes a special person to run this country.
When people think of the qualities of our commander and chief, words like intelligence, patriotism and devotion come to mind. When I think about our presidents, I think about egos. It takes an incredible ego to run this country, because you have to think that no matter what happens, you know better than everyone else. You have to believe that what you want for this country is actually right for the entire country.
Mrs. Prince told me that I could be the president one day. At the time I naively took it as a compliment, but now I'm not so certain. There are a multitude of reasons why anyone would want to be president, and regardless of their ardent patriotism or their sense of duty, the satisfaction of one's ego is an ever-present quality in our politicians.
Egos are just as much a part of life as they are of politics. And their ubiquity should lead everyone to reconsider their own candidate choices in any election cycle.
As for me, I wish Mrs. Prince had told me to be an astronaut...
— Preston Peeden is a senior in history. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.