Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
America, we're embarrassing ourselves. We've had a few years now of wildly partisan partying and demagogic debauchery. I suppose one could say it's been exhilarating. But now it's time for this great nation to sober up and remember we're not defined by our most extreme citizens.
There's a problem, though: We'd have to admit we were wrong, and that would just make the embarrassment worse. Our political climate may be disgraceful, but having to apologize for it would be unthinkably awkward. So, naturally, we've doubled down. Far-right Republican primary challengers, such as Kelli Ward, are bubbling up from the filthy depths of our national ideology with the unspoken battle cry of "Damn it, America doesn't make mistakes!"
We need a system to counter America's tendency toward hot-headed stupidity. And so, I propose the office of "Grown-Up-In-Chief." The office would act as a moderating influence on our worst tendencies. It would be the nation's official disappointed parent. Much like any good parent, the Grown-Up-In-Chief would have the authority to curtail the privileges of "child" institutions, such as the presidency, to prevent further harm and embarrassment. They would effectively be able to ground America until its behavior improves.
Some of my fellow patriots will oppose the creation of this new position. They will claim it's unconstitutional or that it undermines America's culture of independence. They will argue that the institution would strip America of its dignity. But such arguments make a simple logical error — believing America has any dignity left to lose.
Since taking office, President Trump has attacked his own party, lashed out at San Juan's mayor for criticizing his response to Hurricane Maria and picked a fight with a Gold Star widow. And yet, more than a third of the country still rates him favorably. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain has repeatedly received press accolades for making the obvious observation that nationalism is bad.
This is not a good look for a mature nation. Almost 250 years should have been enough time for the American populace to come to terms with the responsibility democracy entails. But apparently we've forgotten. Under my system, the Grown-Up-In-Chief could sit America down and suggest, "Hey, how about being more like Canada or your friend Germany? They seem so responsible." Of course, like any rebellious child, Americans would not take this advice immediately. But maybe, with time and guidance, the nation could mature once again into its role as a world leader.
There are two ways to deal with America's aggressive turn toward embarrassment. The first is to restructure the entire government to add a check against America's own stupidity. The office of Grown-Up-In-Chief would cost us our independence and compromise our democracy, but at least it would save our last scraps of dignity. The second is to invest in education and insist on teaching a nuanced and accurate version of history and civics. We could make sure young students appreciate the responsibility that comes with the heavy burden of freedom. But that seems unlikely.
Nate Rogers is a freshman computer science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.