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All presidents — no matter their background and experience — are infinitely unprepared for the world’s highest office. That maxim of presidential fitness was still true when the junior senator from Illinois took office eight years ago. But former President Barack Obama inherited a Congress with a Democratic majority and a willingness to push through a progressive agenda, a willingness not fully realized since the Great Society of the 1970s.
Colorblindness: a cartoon.
One of my earliest memories of President Barack Obama was his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, back when the Democratic Party still preached straightforward, persuasive ideologies. I was only a 6-year-old back then, but the memory of his message that night still lingers on with me. That eloquent message of optimism and hope, unity and patriotism, unselfish motives and unfaltering strength. It wasn’t even his election, but it certainly seemed so; Obama spoke for his party’s candidate — then-Sen. John Kerry — but it almost seemed he was offering his own story and his vision for the first time.
One has to wonder at the fortitude of winter’s merrymakers. From the depths of January, on evenings worn black by nights already eight hours old, you can observe something strange. Scurrying about Webster Avenue in the freezing cold are spectral lumps. These creatures mill over icy roads and through weather-biting winds, and a stench of beer incubates beneath their heavy winter layers to be released as a heady perfume upon arrival at some familiar destination … The cold air often invigorates these inebriates, and it is perhaps at this moment that one of the creatures recalls those now indelible lines from College President Phil Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward plan: “Our vision is for Dartmouth to be a place of around-the-clock learning.” The student grumbles, to no one in particular, “Around-the-clock what?” before continuing a jumbled march onward, unsure about what this sentence could mean in a world as cold and confusing as ours.
Did you know that three out of ten millennials do not know who Josef Stalin was? Or that only two out of ten recognize the name Mao Zedong? It is these sorts of horrific statistics that give shame to America and its next generation. And these are not due to the blatant ignorance of these 18 to 34 year-olds, but rather because those first two things I said were completely false. I just made them up.
For many Dartmouth freshmen, winter break is a time to reflect on the past term while relaxing with family and planning for the terms ahead. It is a much-deserved period for rest and introspection. And, of course, a time to watch Netflix.
I didn’t expect to be on campus on Dec. 30, 2016. Instead of trudging up Mount Cube, I trudged up the stairs to my third floor dorm, kicked off my overboots and microspikes, dropped my frame pack and, well, cried.
Of all the leaks of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s personal emails, one that attracted the least attention in the end was her description of having both a private and public stance on Wall Street. Clinton was articulating something deeper here: the idea of politicians having differing — perhaps untruthful — personas in public. In itself, this is not a bad thing. As long as public promises are kept, or there is at least an attempt to keep them, I see no reason to care about a politician’s personal beliefs. That said, this notion of a divided identity can only work when it is not public. And keeping it secret is increasingly improbable in a time of hacks and leaks — those grown-up offspring of yesteryear’s tabloid journalism. Today, politicians’ private lives are fair game for the public eye — but so are everyone else’s.
Every year, during the holiday season, I find myself constantly cringing at interactions between my generation, the next generation and the previous generation. It’s painfully unavoidable. Whether it’s discussing relationship advice, American politics or nostalgic movies, there’s always at least one time per party where I wince at some sort of awkward discussion.
I remember a year ago sitting in my high school cafeteria with my friends and confidently proclaiming: “Hillary’s going to win.” My friends and I saw Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s victory as a given since, living in Michigan, a state that has voted blue for the past 24 years, we couldn’t imagine the vote going any other way. Yet look at us now, in the aftermath of an election that shocked the world — and an election in which Michigan bled red instead of blue — and that put a man into power who, as recently as a year ago, no one thought would be a presidential candidate yet alone the 45th President of the United States.
I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been a shoddy friend.
The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College has recently refined its mission statement. Along with the headline, “Tuck educates wise leaders to better the world of business,” Tuck has integrated a small paragraph explaining the meaning of wisdom:
I have never before spoken as much as I did during rush. Not even during Trips, Orientation or the first few weeks of freshman fall, when I was bombarded by a whirlpool of new stimuli and hundreds of eager fellow freshmen, did I speak that much. By the end of each day of rush, my mouth was dry, my throat hurt and my brain felt fried. Yet, I never would have thought it could actually be fun, especially considering my introverted tendencies and legitimate fear of small talk. Dartmouth is filled to the brim with outstanding, intelligent and bold women who each carry her own unique set of passions and interests. It was an incredible experience to finally meet them — after, unfortunately, an entire year at Dartmouth.
I recently came across my list of reasons of why I chose Dartmouth. Before enrolling in Dartmouth’s Class of 2020, I had scribbled out a few bullet points on April 24 while I was visiting campus independently of Dimensions. Two days later, on a rival college’s campus, I committed to Dartmouth.
In Sept. 480 BC, Greek citizens took a stand for democracy. Under the leadership of Themistocles, an Athenian statesman and general, an armada of hundreds of Athenian warships and other pledged forces fought in the straits of Salamis, the narrow waters just south of Athens. That day, the Greeks saved Western civilization in one of the seminal battles of the Greco-Persian wars.
Imagine this scenario: one Sunday afternoon, two friends are in the Collis Center discussing the controversial issue of police brutality towards African Americans. One student thinks that the entire police system needs to be revamped, while the other thinks that the problem is exaggerated by the media and that there are larger, more intrinsic issues at hand. When the latter states the point that black-on-black violence takes more lives than police brutality, the former is shocked. How dare the friend state such a fact! Suddenly, the first student becomes offended, targeted but most importantly indignant, not only because that student is uncomfortable with the opposing opinion, but also because that student possesses a different view.
I spent most of my first week at Dartmouth in the infirmary. None of my bones were broken and I wasn’t reeling from the flu, but I was still in a great deal of pain. Though most people couldn’t see it, if they looked close enough they could have noticed cracks, little fractures revealing the sickness within.