songwriter and hip hop producer Wyclef Jean has this song out called "If I Were
With a Bob Marley feel to the music, the chorus goes like this:
"If I were president/I'd get elected on Friday/Assassinated on Saturday/Buried
on Sunday/ Go back to work on Monday/If I were president...."
Why does Wyclef,
a Haitian New Yorker, imagine being assassinated if he were president? Because
of his progressive populist social vision, i.e. ridding the world of hunger, poverty
Well, here's the column remix. And it goes a little somethin' like
this. Hit it!
If I were president, I'd take a page from Teddy Roosevelt's playbook
and halt the Bush push to eliminate the estate tax. I would re-tool the estate
tax rate so that small business owners would not lose the family farm. I would
tailor the rate to specifically target the top 2 percent of America's wealthy
Because the hereditary transfer of concentrated wealth is incompatible
with the ideal of equality of opportunity and democracy and because society plays
a significant role in the creation of individual wealth, I would declare, as did
President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, that "the man of great wealth owes a particular
obligation to the State because he derives special advantages from the mere existence
"The primary objective of an (estate tax)," Roosevelt said,
"should be to put a constantly increasing burden on the inheritance of those swollen
fortunes, which it is certainly of no benefit to this country to perpetuate."
If I were president, I'd get elected on Friday and assassinated on Saturday....
If I were president, I'd assemble a blue ribbon commission to overhaul our penal
system. I would remind the American people that most felons will eventually be
released from prison so, despite popular subjective misperceptions about what
criminals "deserve," the fact is we have to do everything in our power to rehabilitate
and reconcile offenders with law-abiding communities.
If we don't, that means
penal business as usual, which is taking people with problems, putting them into
an institution that makes them worse by stripping them of their tarnished but
inherent God-given human dignity, and then turning them loose again on an unsuspecting
public without any jobs skills, disenfranchised and morally stigmatized.
a recipe for creating more victims of crime. If I were president it would be incumbent
on me to educate the public on how a rehabilitative penal approach reduces the
likelihood of future criminal acts, thus decreasing the number of future crime
If I were president, I'd get elected on Friday and assassinated on
If I were president I'd convene a mutual security conference at
the United Nations, inviting the world's greatest military strategists and the
most brilliant nonviolent theoreticians and practitioners with an aim to exploit
the full powers and potential of Gandhi-ism in resolving global conflicts.
"Things undreamt of are daily being seen, the impossible is ever becoming possible
(like the Red Sox beating the Yankees). We are constantly being astonished these
days at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence. But I maintain that
far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the
field of nonviolence."
I'd explain to the country that because the structure
of reality itself is interdependent and because of our collective ability to destroy
the entire human race with weapons of mass destruction, bringing the endless cycle
of retaliatory violence to its logical and inevitable nuclear conclusion, war
is no longer a viable option. The evil in men's hearts cannot be defeated with
bullets and bombs.
I'd use the bully pulpit to explain the moral and practical
difference between being willing to die for freedom and being willing to kill
for it. I'd go on national television and talk about Jesus referring to peacemakers
as children of God and how the meek will indeed inherit the earth.
If I were
president, I'd get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday. Buried on Sunday
and back to work on Monday.
Back to work? Yup. To be about the business of
establishing a universal health care system and an education curriculum that teaches
students how to think and not just regurgitate the "right" answers.
If you were president, what would you do?
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated columnist. email@example.com
2004 Cape Cod Times