If I Were President
"IF I WERE PRESIDENT" by Madonna Ciccone
GEORGE magazine, 1994.
It seems funny to start a sentence with the words "If I were president," because I'm sure I'd never want to be. I vaguely remember being asked this question in fifth-grade history class, but that was the year I discovered boys. And my political ambitions took a back seat to my libido. (I know what you're thinking -- some things never change.)
Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of being a leader and effecting change. I like the idea of being an inspiration to the downtrodden, of educating the masses. I like the idea of fighting for equal rights for women and gays and all minorities. I like the idea of embracing other countries and other cultures and promoting world peace. Fighting the good fight, as it were. But I think I'd rather do it as an artist. Because artists are allowed to make mistakes and artists are allowed to have unconventional ideas and artists are allowed to be overweight and dress badly and have an opinion. Artists are allowed to have a past. In short, artists are allowed to be human. And presidents are not. So the question is, how can someone be a good leader if he or she isn't allowed to be human?
It doesn't seem like it's always been this way, but as we hurl ourselves into the twenty-first century, our paranoia seems to grow with our technological advancement. We live in an increasingly fearful society--too many people have guns, too many people a re afraid, too many people are struggling, and too many people need a scapegoat. Someone to blame. A whipping boy. And this, my friend, is what we seem to need presidents for. As soon as we're done congratulating them, we tie their hands behind their backs and watch them flounder. A self-fulfilling prophecy. The President is going to fuck up. The President did fuck up! The President sucks!!! He's the reason we're in this mess. Give me another beer. Nobody wants to take responsibility for their own behavior. If you're president, there are too many people to please and too few toes you can step on, and one day you wake up and find you don't have a point of view or a set of balls. I'd rather eat glass.
But if I were the president ... you know, like in some parallel universe where there wasn't any pain or prejudice, where the National Enquirer did not exist and women were allowed to empower themselves without being labeled heretical and perverse, then:
1. Schoolteachers would be paid more than movie stars or basketball players.
2. Rush Limbaugh, Bob Dole and Jesse Helms would be sentenced to a hard-labor work camp for the rest of their lives.
3. Howard Stern would get kicked out of the country and Roman Polanski would be allowed back in.
4. The entire armed forces would come out of the closet.
That's just off the top of my head, but don't get me started--I have enough problems.