Raise your hand if you’ve declared your candidacy to be the next Commander-in-Chief.
Now that our own Gov. Bobby Jindal has brought his long-running campaign for president out of the shadows and Donald Trump is – literally – making a lot of noise, the race to replace Obama is already hitting its stride.
Things are sure to take an ugly turn, but personally I try not to get too lathered up about politics. I figure our ingenious system of checks and balances will prevent any particular political party from placing a stranglehold on power and driving our country into the ditch.
I mean, if we can survive the Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, political assassinations, Vanilla Ice and Madonna, certainly we can sort through spirited debates about health care, immigration and gun laws.
But I digress.
All the bluster and blow brings to mind my own illustrious political career.
At the risk of sounding boastful, the fact is that I am a perfect, unblemished one-for-one in seeking political office. I don’t mean all the other offices I’ve held over the years, the ones where you miss a meeting and suddenly you’re chairing three church committees or you find yourself named president-for-life of the neighborhood garden club. In fact, there’s a long list of clubs, groups and associations that are still trying to recover from my “leadership.”
No, I’m talking about offices I actively sought out and campaigned to get.
That one glorious run for the gold occurred in 1975 when I took the bold step of announcing my candidacy for the office of Fire Chief at Cedarcrest-Southmoor Elementary in Baton Rouge.
But before I could draw a bead on that coveted position, my power grab had to become catalyzed by some high-profile role that would improve my name recognition and create the impression that I was a responsible, hard-working, 12-year-old kid.
Looking for just the right launching pad to deploy my strategy for success, I talked my way into becoming a crossing guard. About a block east of school was a busy intersection. To assist the neighborhood walkers, there was an adult guard supervising two students who got to wear a bright orange sash with a safety badge pinned right over the heart.
The student crossing guard also got to wield a 6-foot wooden pole with a large iridescent orange flag attached on the end. The job was to wait for the adult guard’s signal and then step right out there into the traffic, lay that long flag out horizontally across the road and stop the cars in their tracks while the kids shuffled through the intersection.
Almost 40 years later, I can report with a great deal of pride that no children were lost or pancaked by a Mack truck on my watch.
So, after a successful and scandal-free stint as crossing guard, it was on to bigger, better, more prestigious and powerful positions.
Quickly realizing my ambitious campaign had to be financed, I began saving my 25¢ weekly allowance and built an impressive war chest that contained just enough cash to cover the cost of a couple of posters and a box of crayons. I should have emulated the professional politicians and used someone else’s money, but all my friends were just as broke as I was.
Once in the Fire Chief’s chair, I have to say that I served with honor, distinction and competency. The school did not, in fact, burn to the ground during my term, although there was one unfortunate incident.
My classmates and I were standing in a long lunch line, and out of the blue one slightly unstable student – whose name I won’t disclose but who is probably pressing license plates at Angola right now – decided to test the functionality of one of the fire alarms affixed to the wall. It’s possible the kid had it all thought out, like a trained terrorist, to cause maximum chaos and pandemonium. Or, it’s quite possible, like your average terrorist, he wasn’t thinking at all.
When he cranked down on the lever and the alarm started blaring through the halls, my Fire Chief instincts immediately kicked into gear. I went into full-on Nicholas Cage mode, dashing through the cafeteria and alerting all the teachers and staff that this was merely a false alarm and there was no need to panic.
Thinking back, I was probably less like Nicholas Cage and more like that Fire Marshall Bill dolt who used to appear on the sketch show In Living Color.
The trauma of that false alarm, particularly the responsibility of having to bear the burden of someone else’s stupidity, squelched any ambition I may have had to continue my nascent political career.
All of this got me to wondering what I’d do if I were forced to be the POTUS today. I’m sure I’d be a one-term prez because the only plank in my platform would be to place a sin tax on social media in an effort to undo the destruction a decade of Facebook has wrought.
Everyone would get three free posts each week for things like vacations and family events – dinner plates and pets would be banned – but after that the tax burden would skyrocket.
Oh, and celebrity selfies would cost dearly. And because I expect Hollywood narcissism to continue unabated, the selfie tax alone ought to put our government back in the black in no time.
You can see – if you’re not too busy posting on Instagram right now – how my administration would be doomed for failure.
So, while others are pledging to dedicate their souls to restoring our beloved country’s rightful place as leader of the free world, I hereby pledge not to campaign for president.
Staying away from the halls of power is probably the best way for me to serve my country. The current field of presidential candidates can all thank me later.
If you need an elementary school Fire Chief, however, I’m your guy.