Sunday, November 23, 2014

The next best president?

Four US presidents at Mount Rushmore
After hearing our discussion on Obama's immigration reform, my nephew, David exclaimed "Obama must be a really good US president, but I am sure you would be a better one!".  Children really know how to compliment me.  However, David later took some part off the compliment by saying that Mihai and Andy will be even better presidents because they are smarter than me. He had thought of me first, though, which shows my importance as his hero. Of course, I am not a US citizen and thus not allowed to ever candidate. So, nobody will create a statue in the mountains for me. However, hearing such estimates is good for my self esteem - especially in the job application season when my self-esteem suffers dreadfully.

I, too, remember being 7 in 1989 when the question of electing a new president arose in Romania, and seriously thinking who in my family will be the better president after the revolution. I think both my parents came high in my estimates at the time. I don't remember how I placed my grandparents or great aunt, but I know my mom came first.

Obviously, when my parents were so awesome, I had no reason to seriously consider a stranger....well... at least not until we really had to vote. My grandparents were allowed to vote from home for the first free election after 1989. I still remember barely reaching the table to read the voting bulletin with my grandfather. He, my grandmother, and my great aunt were at the big table in the living room with the person gathering the votes, while Mihai and I were circling the table in our endeavor to help everyone and felt important and useful.  Unfortunately, they forgot to allow them to vote for the second round of the elections when it mattered more. I remember we waited and waited, and were really disappointed when nobody came. The votes were counted suspiciously, and I felt betrayed when Ion Iliescu, a former communist, won the elections that year. However, the borders opened and we had freedom of speech. There was an old man in a village that my mom drove through who was very sad and told us it was sin against God for a person who had been in charge of a concentration camp to be president (he remembered a young Iliescu in a fancy suit who came to his village to take the best and brightest young men to the Danube-Black Sea channel; most did not return.)  Iliescu won the presidency a few more times after that. I was a physics PhD student at Cornell when he finished his last presidential mandate in 2004. I voted for the first time in 2014 and this time it seemed that votes mattered. Romania has the first president who might reduce corruption, and build a more transparent bureaucratic system starting from the top.

Neither my parents nor I have an influence in politics, and I hope any children I raise will stay away from that field as well. It's too hard to be a politician and be honest, and loved by everyone. However, it's important to always keep enough strength to dream, and the dreams of children are the most beautiful of all.

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