Meredith C. Carroll: A Trump antidote: Aspen’s class of 2017
The average life expectancy was 40 years old in 1787, which is when the authors of the United States Constitution settled on 35 as the minimum required age to assume the presidency. Surely they knew then what we still know today about wisdom being arguably the most substantial quality the person occupying such a solemn and influential job should possess. What we also know now, though, is the link between age and wisdom is utter covfefe.
If we’ve learned anything in the 138 days since 70-year-old President Donald Trump’s inauguration, it’s that while intelligence and gravitas are qualities the leader of the free world should wear as naturally as their own skin, more laps around the sun doesn’t guarantee it will come to pass, perhaps especially when their own skin appears to be anything but natural.
If we learned anything Saturday at the Aspen High School graduation ceremony in the Benedict Music Tent, it’s that high school seniors can be an awful lot more astute and articulate than the president of the United States. (While that should be a compliment on its face, given that Trump is our commander-in-chief, it’s worth mentioning that it still really is meant as high praise.)
Since impeachment is nothing more at this point than a wily sperm unlikely to live long enough to fertilize an egg, and the only thing certain about our nation’s future is that it will cease to exist come the imminent apocalypse, we may as well aim high: Instead of dooming ourselves to repeat recent history, it’s time to consider making 35 the maximum age for future presidents to twiddle their tiny thumbs in the Oval Office.
When we elect our next president in 1,249 days (but who’s counting), it should be someone right out of high school with factual knowledge of real history and non-fake current events freshly dancing in their head; someone not ignorant of or in constant opposition to meticulous ideas and constructive ideals, but inspired by them; a magnanimous leader who’s people-centric, not self-centered; someone who does the correct thing, not just the thing that’s purposefully not politically correct.
Who among us — two-thirds of the House and Senate needed to ratify the Constitution included — can really argue that most any recent high school graduate isn’t exceptionally more qualified to lead our nation than a party-size bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?
Consider Keegan Mehall, Aspen High School’s 2017 valedictorian. In his speech during Saturday’s graduation ceremony, he recognized the efforts of others (whom he didn’t dismiss as giving him just a “very, very small loan” that he expertly parlayed into a “massive empire,” but instead thanked graciously for their accessibility, support and encouragement) in getting him to the lectern. He also acknowledged that his spot at the top of his class was due to “an arbitrary calculation of an average of even more arbitrary grades.” While certainly that’s not true, imagine having a leader who not only demonstrates humility but also can spell it.
Mehall ended his address by urging his classmates to change the world, and while he didn’t expressly say it, the implication was to change it for the better (also something that was a given before, but not after, Jan. 20, 2017).
Liam Locke, Aspen’s 2017 salutatorian, quoted Barry Schwartz’s “The Paradox of Choice”: “Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder,” while warning of a fading sense of “individual responsibility.” (If the variety of word choices and fancy concepts in Locke’s speech befuddled Trump — don’t worry; BuzzFeed is breaking it down for him into a listicle illustrated with images of fast-food value meals.)
With Stanford and Dartmouth in their plans for this fall, it’s safe to say neither Mehall nor Locke were among the now-former future Harvard students posting offensive memes on Facebook. It’s also safe to say that if President Trump could correctly pronounce “meme” and figure out how to generate one, he would be posting offensive versions on Twitter.
It wasn’t just Mehall and Locke but all 134 members of Aspen’s Class of 2017 that conducted themselves with poise, dignity and decorum at graduation — not to mention their remarkable collective 10,000 hours of volunteer service leading up to it. While that may have not been enough to qualify them for the biggest bedroom in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Jan. 19, 2017, is there a person alive who would not personally move any one of them in there right now?
Keegan Mehall for president in 2020. Or Liam Locke. No matter who loses, we’ll all still win.
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