Childhood stories, Life

Charles Evans Hughes*

It was 2001, not your typical voting year.

But there I was, poised and ready—with a bucket of candy in hand—to deliver the speech that would get me elected.

For fifth grade class president.

    

My only competition was one dark-haired, skater-turned-popular kid named Bryce Hatch. We were friends once–before I knew he was running. But really? I totally had it in the bag. Not only was I the most domineering fifth grader in town, who could resist my rosy cheeks and blue sparkly pants? Not my fellow fifth graders, that was for sure. Up until that point, I felt confident relying on their affection for and/or fear of me.

I sat there cool and collected in my undersized school chair, confident that I would take the vote. When Miss Standing announced that it was time for our speeches, I walked to the front of the class clutching aforementioned bucket of candy in one hand and my carefully crafted speech in the other.

Using all the charisma and advanced vocabulary I could muster, I spoke a speech that promised various impossible things (unfortunately I didn’t keep a copy, so I’m not exactly sure what extravagant claims I made) to the citizens of that small classroom. At climactic moments, I would toss candy into the audience full of pre-pubescents waiting with their clammy hands outstretched.

I finished in a crescendo of patriotic fervor and sat down. Let’s just say I NAILED IT.

Then Bryce got up. No speech. No candy. No big words. No cute outfit. Just a few ironic jokes.

He sat back down.

I went home that night and dreamed about the heights to which I would soar after winning this election. It was a small leap from high school class president to President of the United States of America.

The next day, votes were in (the bureaucracy of the fifth grade classroom is apparently faster than for national elections). Miss Standing was going to call the winner up for an acceptance speech and applause.

I had already started to stand up when she announced,

“BRYCE HATCH!!!”

There were no words for my astonishment.

As a consolation prize, Miss Standing made me head Supreme Court Justice (I think she feared what would happen if I wasn’t given some power). With all the judicial authority invested in me, I went home that night and wrote a letter. A letter of impeachment.

DOWN WITH PRESIDENT HATCH.

Addressed to the powers that be, I filled that letter with all of the evidence I could think of that would prove definitively that Bryce was not fit to wear the mantle of President. I included such shocking evidence as: HE WORE THE SAME SHIRT TWICE.

I sealed that letter up and presented it to Miss Standing the next day.

And can you believe what she did? She refused to impeach him.

I had to content myself with wielding limited judicial power for the rest of the unit. But I soon discovered that I had a knack for handing out verdicts. Ah, to wield that sword of justice once more!

*Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes lost by a 3% popular vote to Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

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