I’ve experienced unkindness. Despite this, I don’t really believe evil exists. Everyone makes mistakes. We’ve all said something hurtful in our lives. I believe that almost everyone deserves forgiveness, including people who are sexist or racist or homophobic. However, I know some people have trouble accepting humanity’s blemishes while also being open-minded about people different from themselves.
If I were president, somehow I’d want to create an atmosphere of empathy for all.
MADELEINE GAISER, Gettysburg College (Pa.), class of 2017:
If I were president, of my college or the country, I would put resources into making diversity work. Cultural education would start in kindergarten and colleges would make use of the safe spaces they brag about. Fostering diversity is not creating a rainbow of skin tones and filling the air with a symphony of languages and smells. Those colors and sounds, which came because of promises, because of recruitment, cannot be placed on the pedestal of diversity and inclusion if they are met with bigotry and hate.
Leaders do not understand that diversity is a culture. That culture is learned and requires all the time and resources that recruiting the diversity required. True diversity is achieved when hearing Korean spoken at the gas station, and Arabic spoken by a hijabi at the Apple store doesn’t turn heads; when the sounds and smells mingle harmoniously.
DAN McCARTHY, Boston College, class of 2020:
I’ve been at Boston College for a month now, exploring deep questions and confronting complex issues in classes. Thus far, nothing has terrified me more than climate change. If I were president, I would lead the greatest push for climate mitigation. Carbon taxes, funding alternative energies, advocating for Elon Musk’s next revolutionary project. I would do my best to champion compromise as the primary tool of politics. That is what I want to see of our politicians. Compromise for the sake of improving our world. In short, doing their jobs.
MARSHALL BENDER, Vilseck High School (Germany), class of 2019:
If I were the president of the United States, I would enforce stricter gun laws. Japan, a country where guns are banned — even something like firing a gun can get you a hefty jail sentence or fine — has virtually zero gun violence.
Second, I would end the war on drugs, which has caused mass incarceration, the waste of billions of dollars, killed many innocent people and hasn’t solved a single problem that was addressed. In Portugal, drugs are still illegal, but the citizen found with drugs is sent to treatment, not prison.
Third, I would adopt a prison system like Norway’s, which focuses on rehabilitation. By teaching the prisoners that we care for them and want to help them, we can bring them back into the real world successfully and without them being multiple-time offenders.
Finally, and arguably the most important of the four, I would work to make America use 50 percent renewable energy by 2050.
JILLIAN KLASCIUS, Syracuse University (N.Y.), class of 2018:
I have many concerns for the future — overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, fighting climate change (more regulations, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, etc.) and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
But my biggest issue is our need to get money out of politics. This issue has bipartisan support from the people, yet nothing is done because those with the power to enact these changes need the corporations and 1 percenters’ money to get re-elected. It’s a vicious cycle that has serious consequences in regards to which laws and policies are passed or not passed. Without our elected government truly being representative of the people, and responsive to the people, all other policy issues won’t stand a chance unless they are aligned with corporate interests.
I am hopeful for the future of our country because Bernie Sanders received high percentages of the young vote in the presidential primary, and I will be (and am currently) looking, supporting, volunteering and voting for other Bernie-esque candidates at every level of government.
ALEJANDRO VAZQUEZ, Northbrook High School (Houston), class of 2017:
If I were president of the United States of America, I would emphasize immigration reform, dedicating my administration to improving the opportunities given to Dreamers and parents of Dreamers. The deferred action for childhood arrivals policy would be altered to protect a larger population of immigrants, with benefits like traveling outside the country without any problem. I would also create a financial aid process for undocumented students. Although this already exists in some states, I would make sure to enforce it in all 50 states.Continue reading the main story
I would give jobs to the people without them, and I would allow people who are under 18 to vote because they should have that right.
Andrea L., age 11, Arkansas
If I am elected to be President I will make this world a better place. I will do more than just sit in my chair. I will stop the taxes for the people who are poor and have no homes. The homes that are not being used I will give to the poor. I would make schools a better place by giving them extra supplies.
Richard C., age 11, New York
If I was President, I wouldn't make anyone do what they didn't want to do. I also would listen to what everyone thinks. I would do all these things because no one would put a controlling person in charge of their country. For example, I might think that everyone should have volunteer jobs and not get paid. Everyone might not want to do that, so I would have a meeting and see what else we can do because it's not volunteering if you don't want to do it. I would listen to everyone's opinion because if I want to fix a situation and my solution could put the country in danger, someone might come and show me another way to do it. The presidency is an important thing.
Janine L., age 11, New York
If I were President, I would make peace in the world. I would end war. I would put a force field around each part of the world so there will be no war. I would put a force field on the sky. I would put electric gates to trap the people that want war.
Derek T., age 8, New York
If I became President, I would try to make the country more pleasant and peaceful. I would do as much as I could to prevent wars in, or including, our country. I would give money to environmental funds. I would ban the cars that pollute the most. I would help the needy and poor in all the ways I could. I would try my best at the hard job and I would stick with what I believed in. I would protect all endangered animals and have special reserves for them. I would have special classes for kids with disabilities so they would not be teased and so the kids would know they weren't the only people who are different. If I became President I would try to get people to agree with me, because if no one supported me I wouldn't be able to do anything.
Eliana P., age 9, Massachusetts
I think it is not right that kids who live in orphanages get treated the way they do. You should speak out against it because you just might get into a situation where you or someone you know has to go to an orphanage. They need to always have clean clothes and be treated just how you would want to be treated!
Alli G., age 12, Colorado
If I were President, there would be three days of school.
Zachary L., age 9, Connecticut