I’ll never forget the first day of 4th grade. Our very first classroom assignment was to write down what you wanted to be when you grew up. After everyone wrote down their answers, Ms. Simmons asked each of us to stand up, introduce ourselves, and reveal our answer. I’d never been more nervous in the nine short years of my life – but – when my time came, I was ready.
“My name is Russell Reid and when I grow up, I want to be the first black president of the United States of America.” Ms. Simmons – God bless her heart, looked at me and said, “ thank you Russell” and pointed to the kid next to me. My announcement – to a mostly Black and Latino class didn’t register the wave of excitement I anticipated. Ms. Simmons — a southern raised educator, didn’t kill my dream, but she also didn’t encourage it. Looking back, I think she knew better, because for a child — dreams die very hard. Maybe she figured I’d learn how it all worked on my own.
As a product of segregation and southern discipline, she probably wanted to say to me — The stars must align, seas have to part, mountains must move OR – if she had a crystal ball she could have said, “you can simply wait until 2008.” Yup, a lifetime of change can sometimes occur – faster then you think.
I’m not sure I’d make a good Commander in Chief anyway. Here’s a small taste of my platform:
1. — Everyone would have healthcare and I wouldn’t care if you approve or not. Feel free to label me a Dictator and/or a Socialist – if it makes you feel good.
2. — Everyone would be required to know the most influential & biggest selling jazz album of all time – Kind of Blue by Miles Davis (or Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill).
3. — Using the term “you’re a hater” would draw you a $1,000 fine and/or up to a year in jail for continuous misuse of street slang disguised as a legitimate response to a difference of opinion.
4. — If you purchase a Toyota Prius, you must move to Portland, Oregon within 72 hours.
5. — Starbucks would be forced to keep it simple: small, medium and large.
6. — Celebrity award shows like the Grammys would be replaced by Teachers Awards.
7. — Auto insurance would be reimbursed with three years of good driving.
8. — Same sex marriage – Ok by me.
9. — War – not so much.
10. — The cost of college would be fixed and offered like a gas station displays their prices — unleaded, super unleaded and premium.
11. — Political campaigns would be financed by taxes only – with every candidate receiving the same amount – $42.99.
12. — The construction of every new home would have at least one walk-in closet with built-in racks for shoes.
13. — The baseball season would be cut down to 100 games.
14. — Facebook would only be allowed to recommend you to add the friend of a friend one time — not every time you log on.
15. — WiFi – No cost.
16. — No more carpool lanes. Join the rest of us as we travel 10 miles an hour. If you and your passengers really want to pool your resources, go rent a helicopter.
17. — Clothing designers would no loner be allowed to offer skinny jeans for men – that mistake only needed to occur once.
18. — Apple would have to wait a minimum of 4 years before they can offer you a bigger, smarter, sleeker version of the same overpriced “newest’ 4G product.
19. — All 4th grade students will be encouraged to believe that they can become the president.
20. — Lower taxes, higher fuel efficiency, cleaner water and all other empty slogans, which foster phony political debates would round out my list. Since I can’t play the saxophone and I’m not willing to put on a skirt or dress in drag for votes, I’ll appear on late night talk shows dribbling a basketball – between my legs – a talent in its own right.
It seems a bit crazy and I’ve never understood the idea of putting the fate of the next four years of your happiness in the hands of one person. Gas is expensive because it’s in high demand, not because a president can determine the price point although — we often respond better to election year solutions like more domestic drilling. Want a real solution? park your car and walk or ride a bike when the opportunity presents itself. Healthcare is out of control because congress accepts the benefits offered by the healthcare lobby – not because there’s a plan to socialize the system – the system is already socialized except for the profit – that’s always privatized.
As the leader of the free world, I wouldn’t be looking to right any wrongs, create any new enemies, fight anyone else’s battles, support dictators, arm freedom fighters, supply government contractors or occupy foreign lands (well, Ernest Hemingway loved Cuba – so maybe, we’d keep trying to “acquire” that country).
Would I get re-elected based on my platform of change? Probably not and that would be OK by me. Realistically, 12 years of leadership (two – 6 year terms) is probably the time needed to usher in real change, but who wants to wait that long? Real change would erase the 4-8 year cycle of “the sky is falling” cries for help – and I kinda enjoy listening to people who do it. Please don’t ever take that joy away.
So I submit to you – if you really want to create change – try holding your congressional representatives accountable. Those guys and gals got it real good! – and they know you’re not watching them. Or, you can always vote for me.