By Joy He, Second Place Winner (Grades 9th to 12th)
America is long overdue for a minority leader. For being a well-developed world power, we are notoriously single-minded when it comes to electing our presidents – no women, no minorities, no Jews, and no Muslims (indeed, even JKF’s Roman Catholicism kept the public talking for years). It is no question that America is quickly approaching a time for minority leaders. However, the conflict surrounding that issue comes from two sides. Not only is the question one of the American people’s willingness to elect a minority president, but it is also one of finding the right minority candidate to lead America.
The philosophy of the American people – the “American Dream” – is one that emphasizes equal opportunity for all individuals in all aspects of life. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence demanding freedom, justice, and the rights outlined in the first ten amendments to the constitution, he defined the United States to be a nation of choice – of free-will and independence. However, today, with the public’s increasing aversion to immigration and a pronounced distrust of those from the Middle East after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the American Dream is becoming just that – an American dream. When 5th or 6th generation “Americans” (whose families were incidentally immigrants themselves) begin persecuting other, newer, immigrants for pursuing the same dreams and ideals – the same freedoms – as their own families did once upon a time, then there is something inherently wrong with our Dream. The first obstacle America as a nation must overcome before entertaining hopes of electing a minority president is thus preserving the American Dream not only as a relic of the past, but also as a model for the future.
Conversely, it is also up to the candidates themselves to prove themselves worthy of leading our nation. Not only must America do its part to ensure that all candidates are given an equal opportunity to success, but the candidates must do their part to ensure that America will be led by the best people possible. Overcoming prejudice is one thing, but America shouldn’t feel pressured to elect a minority leader “just because.” Ability must come first and foremost. Whether or not the candidate is a minority should be almost an after thought – although, admittedly, their ethnic background would undeniably play a large role in areas of the presidency such as foreign policy. Indeed, we can’t simply say “minority president” and expect one to show up on our doorsteps.
Each president of the past was elected primarily on ability, and any presidential candidate, regardless of their racial status, must show that they have the ability to lead our nation.Ultimately, the election of a minority president will depend on both America’s willingness and the candidates’ competency . It is not only a question of whether the American public is ready to elect a minority president, but also if minority candidates are ready to step up to the plate. America is not yet quite ready for a minority president – the American Dream must be preserved in its entirety before we can truly be deemed ready – but conversely, we have yet to have a minority candidate who has really shown outstanding competency. In the future, America may be ready for a minority president, but will a suitable minority candidate be ready to lead America?
Judge's comments: Excellent point about older immigrants persecuting newer immigrants. Well structured and well thought out essay. Good postulation about whether the country would be able to throw up a minority candidate ready to lead. Good use of word limit.
Joy He is a 10th grade student at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Mo. Essay published as submitted.
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