CONTEST: How might the president matter in the 21st century?

Does the president matter?

IDEA and the Hannah Arendt Center challenge you to answer the question, "How might the president matter in the 21st century?"Does the President Matter?

Whenever elections come along in America, it is common to hear politics altogether dismissed -- it doesn't matter who we elect; they're all the same anyway. Do you think it matters who we send to the White House in November? Submit an essay for the chance to win our exciting prizes!

The Hannah Arendt Center presents this contest as their second annual thinking challenge.



Submit a 1,500 word (maximum) multi-media blog post (must include images or links to video or music),  five minute video, or multi-media piece which addresses the question, "How might the president matter in the 21st century?"

Winning entries will address the following questions: How does the President matter when political lies as well as political truths are no longer compelling? In what sense can we still talk about political leadership when the pillars of truth are seen to be meaningless trivialities? Where will real, unifying political action come from? Where might we find leaders who, in the words of David Foster Wallace, “help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own”? What, in other words, would it mean for a president to matter?


Submission deadline is September 1, 2012 at 11:59 PM, EST

Submissions should be sent to


We will choose five winners:

  • One American high school student
  • One high school student from outside the U.S.
  • Two college students
  • The strongest submission which meets the eligibility requirements.

All five winners will receive $500,  an Arendt Center Award for Excellence in Political Thinking, and a copy of the newly released The IDEA Guide to the 2012 US Presidential Debates.

The two college student winners will be featured on a panel at our fifth annual conference on September 21-22, 2012 (domestic travel and lodging included.)

The  winning submissions will be featured on the Conference website as well as on the IDEA website.

Qualifying entries will be posted on the Arendt Center blog.


This contest is inspired by the Hannah Arendt Center Fifth Annual Conference, September 21-22, 2012.

Does the President Matter?

A Conference on the American Age of Political Disrepair

Read about inspiration for the challenge here.

Learn more about the conference here.

Learn more about last year's thinking challenge here.

Become a member of the Hannah Arendt Center here.



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