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As part of the application process for admittance to Simon's Rock College as of 1994, prospective students were required to write a letter to the head of a major corporation, non-profit organization, or holder of an elected position. In January of 1994, I began the application process, and wrote my letter. I chose to write President William Jefferson Clinton, then in the middle of his first term of office. Since the exploration of space has always been a topic near and dear to my heart, one which I have always felt passionately about -- and argued rabidly in favor of -- I decided to write a letter concerning the present state and possible future of America's space program.

I spent several weeks working on this letter, sending it through several drafts, until finally I'd crafted it into one of the finer pieces I'd written up to that date. I stuck it in an envelope and sent it off to the White House, sending another copy to Simon's Rock for my college application.

I eventually (in June of that year, shortly after I got chicken-pox, took the SATs and was accepted by Simon's Rock) got a response back. My hands trembled as I opened the envelope. Had I gotten a real response? Or just a form letter? Glancing at it, I saw that, sure enough, it was a form letter, with the copied signature (I could even see the pixels) of President Clinton at the bottom.

Composing myself, I read the opening lines:

Dear Bjorn,

Thank you for your interest in the topic of affirmative action...

I couldn't believe it. I was absolutely shocked. Sure, it was a form letter. That wasn't what suprised me. I had expected to get a form letter. No one can possibly be expected to answer all the mail that a person as prominent as the President of the United States of America. But what really hurt, what forever destroyed my faith in the American government as a reasonably competent body, was the simple fact that they couldn't even send the right form letter!

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