A couple of weeks ago, Sam and I went to Armonk, New York, where we attended his Byram Hills High School reunion. It was a little surprising to me that Sam wanted to go at all, since the powers that be at his school actually kicked him out, but once he made the decision to participate the reunion seemed like a great idea. I was excited because I’d be able to meet, live and in person, some of the colorful characters from Sam’s past I’ve been hearing about all these years.
One of the first people we encountered was a former assistant principal who confided in me that he was very happy to see Sam alive and well because “I didn’t think he’d make it to twenty.” Then we met Mr. Green, the teacher who, according to some, robbed Sam of the student council presidency. You can read a lot more about this event here, but suffice it to say that Mr. Green still bears some guilt about this long-ago event, and needed to get some things off his chest. He launched into a long explanation about by-laws and school constitutions and the logic that led to his unpopular decision, but anyone could tell he wanted to make amends.
The next evening we found a copy of the school newspaper for which Sam wrote in the sixth grade, long before he ran for student council president or got kicked out of high school. An eager-beaver reporter, Sam covered both politics and sports. “Hockey…series B – Chicago, four games to two over New York (sob)”: he was an analyst who really cared, proud to wear his heart on his sleeve. But his above-the-fold cover story (had there been an actual cover or fold in the stapled sheaf of mimeographed paper) was the one that caught my eye: “Should We Abolish the Electoral College?” Sam made a compelling argument for his point of view (“yes, we should”):
The remarkable thing is that over forty years later, he still feels exactly the same way.
But I wonder: had there been an electoral college at Byram Hills High School when Sam ran for student council president, might he have won and gone on to become a corrupt political official under indictment today? Perhaps that archaic institution could have saved the Mr. Green many years of guilty, sleepless nights.