A Note To Newly Elected Officials: Respect Us or We’ll Cut Your Pensions


Published: November 3, 2010

Congratulations on winning the hearts and minds of your voters. Whether by default (i.e. you were running against Christine O’Donnell) or by sheer will power, you convinced literally hundreds of thousands of people to choose you over someone else. If I were in your shoes, I’d probably take the next week to call up every girl that turned me down, every person that ever bragged in front of me, and make it clear that I am the most popular person in my community.

Unfortunately, as politicians you are not allowed to act like college sophomores (or in my case, high school freshmen). Now is your time to make intensive plans so that when you finally take office, you are adequately prepared for the pressures that await you. Obviously you will have a lot of people on your mind while you plan out your first year in office, from the businesses that sponsored your campaign to the blue-collar workers that you so thoughtfully exploited to improve your image. My goal right now is to make sure that you hear a seldom-heard voice: that of the student. Although complicated absentee balloting procedures prevent some of us from voting, we still possess the power to vote.

As with any group of people with that power, we students have a simple set of demands from our elected officials, from the local to the national level. From the Senate and House of Representatives, we want to make sure our parents still have jobs (so they can pay our extraordinary tuition, of course), but we also want to inherit a country that isn’t plagued with a crushing debt owed to China.

From the Governor to state officials, we just want to be wanted. We want to know that you appreciate our decision to choose the great state of New York as our home for at least our undergraduate career. Tangibly, we want affordable public transportation to get around our (for some, adopted) city; we want insurance that our abilities, not our tuition and financial aid, will be the biggest factor in our decision to stay here; we want tax incentives that allow us to live in the city that birthed us after our college careers are over. And again, we want all this without forcing future generations into a black hole of debt.

In this age of Rod Blagojevich and Eliot Spitzer, we also want something that may be a foreign concept for some: we want responsibility. As students, our teachers expect us to be responsible for every assignment we turn in. We suffer direct consequences for turning in subpar material. We expect the same amount of accountability from our elected officials. We want politicians (and athletes) who won’t become so bigheaded that they think they can get away with grossly immoral activities. We expect you to admit that you’ve made mistakes and we want you to know how to fix them. We don’t want you to take a mistake you’ve made and try to parlay it into a lucrative career as a TV show host. In other words, we don’t want you to be the butt of a Jon Stewart joke.

Of course, a few freebies here and there wouldn’t hurt our image of you; I’m sure the governor could afford to give us another national holiday, maybe Sept. 11? More importantly, however, is that you make us respect you. Make us want to emulate you. Inspire us to switch our major to Political Science. If you think that we’re all just a bunch of liberal anti-establishment zombies, you’re wrong. We’re smart enough to know that Democrats won’t always be right and Republicans won’t always be wrong (but we do know that the Tea Party will always be a great joke), so don’t give up on us.

We may sound demanding, but really all we need is for you to put everything you have into serving the public. We’ll notice the difference between someone who truly cares, and someone who puts on a show, and believe me, we’ll vote accordingly. Don’t forget, we’re young and our voices are at the peak of their volume.