I Was Their Leader

May 22, 2011
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Confidence and strength brewed through me. It was my time to shine. People were complaining and it was my chance to unite them all. It was time for me to be their leader. I marched up to the source of all the problems occurring and confronted it head on.

“Hello, Mr. Gigliotti.”

“Hello Jonathon, don’t you have a class to get to?”

“Yes sir, but first I must ask…have you reconsidered?”

“No Jonathon I have not.”

“Well, I would like you to know that I am running a petition against you, and I will make sure you listen to the complaints of my fellow students and me.”

“Okay Jonathon”, Mr. Gigliotti chuckled.

Traditionally, Mr. Gigliotti had always graded our binders which contained all of our study guides and notes. I irritatingly held a borderline A, a term used for those whose grade ranges between 88 to 90, in his class. Due to this I hoped the binder grade, an easy 100, would boost my grade to a 90 or above. Unfortunately for me and my fellow “border-liners” the worst case scenario happened….Mr. Gigliotti decided to break his traditions for the first time, ever. Without the binder I knew my chances of making an A in his class were cut in half, and the same went for my fellow students. While many of the others gave up hope and began to cut their losses, I decided I could not stand for this atrocity, I had to fight. Thus I began to petition for the binder grade. However, I needed to take into account many other factors. What about those who already earned an A in the class? What about those who could not boost their grade enough? How would Gigliotti respond to all of this? Many questions popped into my head but in order to lead this I knew I must take my chances and fight for my beliefs and the beliefs of others. This is what leaders must do because if they were to waver they would lose their credibility and thus their entire campaign would fall. I mustered my courage and began to formulate my strategy.

When in times of crisis, peace, or my situation, the people turn to a leader for their salvation. Leaders personify the strength and power of a movement, a nation, or an empire. Without a leader, these forces cannot directly coordinate themselves and disintegrate into nothing. I could only hope to embody that strength that the binder movement needed. It was then that I thought I should look at past great leaders and model myself off of them. To lead like they did would only make me appear more credible.

The first aspect of a leader I would need is charisma because without a trusting and reliable visage, no one will want you to lead them. George W. Bush during his re-election campaign won a close victory because of his ability to appear as the more suitable man to lead. During a survey one man stated “I voted for George W Bush because I believe he's a man of strong convictions, beliefs and principles” without mentioning his actual ideas and plans for the nation that he supported (Why did you vote for Bush?). Bush’s visage as an all-American man allowed for him to convince people across the country that he was the best thing for America at the time. Using his charms and trustworthy visage allowed him to be re-elected and beat John Kerry. Now I do not believe myself to be very charming; however, many people in the school have always found me to be a very trustworthy person. I know this because I know things about certain people that they have told no one else, and my credibility as a trustworthy person would be compromised if I told you those secrets right now. I knew I could use this as a means of gaining support.

“Hey Elizabeth.”

“Hey Jonathon.”

“Elizabeth, would you like to help support the cause to make the binder in APUSH (AP US History) a grade?” I said with a smile.

“I don’t know Jonathon...” Elizabeth said, “What if Gigliotti gets angry at us for doing something like this”.

“Elizabeth, that question runs through my head all the time,” I said with reverberant passion, “However I am sure that Gigliotti would only see this as a respectable effort on our parts”

“Wow, Jonathon. You are really dedicated to this aren’t you? I have to say I really think you can get this through.”

“I can only get it through with the support of the student body.”

“Well, if my efforts can help the cause then sure, I’ll sign the petition. I really need this grade as well.”

“Excellent, make sure to remind Mr. Gigliotti about the binder every time you see him”

After that conversation I held in my hand the first signature for my petition. After hearing what I said to Elizabeth, other soon came up to me inspired by my steadfast courage and charisma. By the end of 1st period that day I held over 15 signatures, even from some people that weren’t in AP United States History. The fact that I had managed to make people outside of the class only convinced me that my approach succeeded. When I entered Mr. Gigliotti’s class next period I only looked at him with a smirk on my face.

“Hello again Jonathon, how is your petition going? From what I’ve seen it doesn’t look like many people are supporting you”

“We’ll see Mr. Gigliotti. However, I must ask now. Have you reconsidered?”

“No Jonathon I have not.”

I knew that he would not waver yet, so I continued my journey across the school. There were more people to convince and many other leaders to analyze. I began to ponder on what leaders tend to have in their possession, allies.

All of the most effective leaders in the world possess allies or friends. Frederick Roosevelt had Winston Churchill, Hitler had Mussolini, Reagan had H.W. Bush. Without these friends the former would never have managed to succeed in their campaigns. Empires that try to survive on their own tend to collapse in on themselves and die. The Roman Empire of old attempted to hold complete political hegemony over the entire European Continent. Augutus Caesar, considered the greatest emperor of the Roman Empire conquered the continent without the help of any other inhabitants of the continent. Once holding the entire western portion of the continent and parts of the east, the empire considered itself the greatest in the world(Augustus). However, without any form of trade partners and a high reliability on slaves from their conquered territories for their army the empire slowly declined until it became nothing. For an economy to work, money must flow. Without any trade partners, the economy would become stagnant because there would be no money flowing in an economy. This leads to the easy inference that an empire cannot effectively stand alone. I understand this may be a very complex idea for my own cause, but the idea directly parallels with one part of my campaign; I cannot do this alone. I would need an ally, a friend, a follower who could rally others nearly as well as me but could not usurp me as leader. If he were to do so I would lose all reason to even try to get the binder as a grade because I cannot rely on someone who just kicked me off my throne. I soon entered European History and walked up to one of my best friends in the school.

“Trevor, I want to ask you something.”

“Sure Jonathon, what’s up?”

“I’m trying to get the binder in APUSH to become a grade, I wondered if you would like to help me”

“Sure Jonathon, anything for a friend. How can I help?”

“I’m running a petition. I wanted you to sign it then help me advertise it.”

I handed him one of the petition sheets after he signed the one I already possessed. Trevor always trusted me and supported my aspirations. He also contained the qualities of a great leader, except he did not know where to start unlike me. Many people liked Trevor, so it made him the perfect candidate for my second in command.

“Don’t worry Jonathon, I won’t fail you. I love annoying Gigliotti.”

“Excellent. Annoy him with this every single time you see him.”

We would discuss the petition every day after that and every night when we had time away from all the homework. With his help my petition increased in support by over 50 percent. This growth though still had one hindrance, those who had a high grade in Gigliotti’s class. Trevor had managed to convince maybe two or three of them to sign but both of us knew there could not be any reasoning with them. Their grades were already high, so why would they want to sign the petition? I’m also pretty sure some of them just didn’t want others to get their grades up, to boost their rank higher than everyone else. In fact, one of them intercepted me in the hallway and told the people I was talking to this very thing, that their ranks would be compromised. This irritated me; however, I would not allow for my anger to control me. I calmly let those people go but I knew those with higher grades needed silencing. Reasoning and charismatic appeal would not work on them, neither would Trevor. I decided to reflect on other aspects that made leaders great again.

Cunning, leaders always must be capable of outwitting their opponents and I must be no different. At the Battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon managed to crush both the Russian forces and Austrian forces in one massive battle. To trick the opposing forces, he made his army appear weak by placing them on the lowest point of a hill. When the opposing forces attacked he surprised both of them with his much more powerful force and managed to wipe both armies out. Soon after, Emperor Francis II signed an armistice with France and thus ended their involvement in the Napoleonic Wars, leaving Russia alone and forcing them to surrender as well. (Kagan) On the other side of the world, George Washington also dealt with his problems with his own cunning and wit. When some farmers rebelled due to the tax on whiskey, George Washington donned his General uniform and led an army of over 10,000 men on a small town in Pennsylvania. The insurgents, afraid of dying, abandoned their cause and returned to their farms when they heard the news of an entire army marching towards them (Opal). This genius move on the part of Washington put an end to his enemies during his presidency. By outwitting his enemies, like Napoleon, he allowed for his cause of creating a just government in America to continue. After reflecting upon this I knew that I as well must outwit my “enemies”. I held no disdain for those people with high grades, but I could not allow for them to interfere with me anymore. I could not go on such a grand scale though; I am not capable of assembling armies against my foes. No, I must go for the more subtle and manipulative approach.

“Hello Brandon”

“What’s up, homeboy.”

Brandon was not the most vocal of those who did not wish for my binder petition to succeed. Despite this, I knew he would not sign my petition without some incentive to do so and since he had above a 90 in the class, the incentive of getting a better grade dissipated for Brandon before it even began to exist. He even asked me once in the hall when I suggested the idea of a petition, “Who would even sign that?!” I already proved Brandon’s hidden disapproval wrong at that point but I knew it would be helpful to procure his signature. Once one falls, they would all slowly begin to fade away from my path. I turned to the girl sitting next to Brandon.

“Hey Kaylin, would you like to help support the cause to make the APUSH binder a grade?”

“Oh my god yes! I really need that grade.” Kaylin said with joy and proceeded to write her name on the form followed by “Make it a grade!!” above her name.

“Wow, I could use it too!” Ayanna, the other girl sitting at Brandon’s table, stated. She also proceeded to sign it.

Then out of nowhere they both put the petition on Brandon’s desk and said together, “Sign it!!”. Brandon did not know what to do; he stuttered for a second and could not formulate what to say. It was then that he finally conceded and said, “I guess it wouldn’t harm me to sign it”. His signature falling down upon the paper seemed like a final victory for me. This was my Austerlitz, my Trafalgar, my D-Day. After his fall, many of the others who were against me began to back off after I began using the same methods of peer pressure against them. Some did remain vocal but their voices did not pierce the bubble I had created. Those inside the bubble were mine; I had defeated those trying to pierce that bubble.

At the end of the week I reflected upon everything I achieved. I organized a movement against my teacher and managed to remove any obstacles from my path. I walked up to Gigliotti that day after school to talk with him about the grade.

“Hello. Mr. Gigliotti.”

“Hello. Jonathon.”

“Have you reconsidered?”

“No, I have not”

The second he said “No”, Elizabeth walked past the two of us and stated with fire in her eyes “Mr. Gigliotti, please reconsider!!” then walked off. Then Trevor came by with his girlfriend and also stated “You’d better reconsider Mr. Gigliotti!”

“Well well Jonathon. I’m impressed; you’ve managed to get everyone to whisper this crap to my ear.”

“Anything for the cause sir”, I then showed him the petition.

“Wow, I’m amazed. However, I cannot allow for this to go through. So it has all been for nothing I’m afraid.”

“That’s alright Mr. Gigliotti, you’re a teacher and I’m a student. I could never hope to win against you. But even though I may surely lose, I’m glad that the experience of being a leader around my own peers has paid off. It’s worth more than any grade.”

“I have to say that you’re taking this well. Maybe you will be a great leader someday.”

“Some people are born great leaders and others obtain their skills. It doesn’t matter if I am either one. All I know is that since I was their leader, I am perfectly capable of leading other things.”

Mr. Gigliotti smiled. I waved to him and left the classroom with a smirk.

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