I have observed in recent days that many people on this campus seem shellshocked by the election result. Not so me. As careful readers of my previous columns will note, I have always assumed that Donald Trump would be our 45th president. To the half-a-dozen of you who read my previous columns, and failed to heed my warnings, you have only yourselves to blame. How many times did I try to tell everyone—the Dean, my fellow-classmates, the professors in whose classes I am nominally enrolled—that this day was at hand? How many times did they say to me, “Oh no, Fenno, you’re crazy!” Oh, I’m crazy, am I? I’m crazy? Would a crazy person LAUGH LIKE THIS????!!!!!!
No. No one is laughing now. This is serious.
“Oh no, Fenno,” they said, “he can’t win! Look at the polls!” Look at the polls! Only an idiot trusts polls. Who among us has never lied on a survey? Who among us has never been cornered on the Science Center plaza by an undergraduate conducting a mental health study for a psychology class, and rated yourself as “very happy,” because you’ll be damned if this snotnosed millennial parvenu peeks at your answer and finds out that you are in fact teetering on the brink of complete psychosis? For that matter, who among us, when we were ourselves undergraduates, never conducted a mental health study for a psychology class, and ended up inventing all of the final data, because we vomited up a bottle of Jack Daniels onto the stack of half-completed forms on the morning the assignment was due? Knowing the profound level of self-deception of which you yourself are capable, do you really think the rest of America is better and purer than all that? No. Everything you trusted was a mirage, and you ought to have known better.
Now, of course, everyone is on the warpath for some individual or some demographic to hold accountable for all this. I would like to make it perfectly clear that what happened on November 8 was in no way my fault. Yes, yes: I am a student at Harvard Law School, one of the wealthiest private institutions on the planet, with a $35.7 billion dollar endowment, every hoarded-up dollar of which is, when you trace it all the way back down to its origin, a dollar snatched from the mouths of the global poor. But I have made a point of never reaping any personal advantage from my institutional connections. Indeed, I have been careful to sabotage all my opportunities, and to squander any accidental accruals of goodwill. As of this year, I have been blacklisted from every HLS BigLaw interest event, due to my lavish enthusiasm for their complimentary libations. OPIA, meanwhile, has refused to have anything to do with me since 2011, because apparently, “jailbreaking and smuggling expenses” is not an appropriate use of SPIF summer funding. You will find no one at Harvard Law School with a good word to say about me.
“But Fenno,” I can hear you all crying now, “since you were the only man among us who saw clearly what was happening in this country, shouldn’t we look to your as our natural leader in this new era? Fenno, Fenno, help us! Tell us what we should do!”
Ha! How like you, you worms! Well, you are in luck. I have not been idle during this election cycle. I have made a plan.
FENNO’S PLAN TO SAVE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Now, I can’t tell you the plan, because you people are guaranteed to fuck it all up if I do. But you can rest assured that it is a good plan. If you shut your mouths and do exactly what you’re told, we will rescue our country, solve world hunger, colonize Jupiter, and develop a viable medical procedure for male pregnancy within the next 6.5-11 years. All I need each of you to do is sign on for one of the following roles, and await further orders.
Civil service sleeper agents.
Civil servants are key to any effective resistance of tyranny. Any idiot can carry a gun, but it takes a special mettle to sit at a desk job for years and years, slowly and silently unfiddling the tightly-wound lugnuts of a corrupt institutional bureaucracy. We will need some people to do paperwork/visa-type things, à la Chiune Sugihara. We will need other people to simply clench their buttocks and wait for my signal to burn down the Utah Data Center. Still others will be needed to move their diabolical DHS supervisor’s coffee mug to a different part of his desk every time he leaves for a cigarette break, leading him to believe that he is slowly going insane.
Poets who are in over their heads.
History tells us that anybody who starts writing inspirational political poetry right now is guaranteed to have a command post in a resistance organization within six months. (Admittedly, “poetry” is a mostly dead art form at this point, and I am not quite sure what its 21st-century artistic analogue would be. Twittering? A compilation of topical GIFs? A novel-length fanfiction in which a time-travelling Alexander Hamilton runs for president in 2020—not, you know, the historical Alexander Hamilton, but the hip, progressive, second-generation Puerto Rican Alexander Hamilton from that musical?)
Where you take things from there is up to you. Most poets either perish quickly in some sort of doomed, romantic uprising, or else spend the next decade systematically hollowing themselves out until they wake up one day and realize they have become the very thing they once despised. The choice is yours!
Someone to handle the group Google Docs.
Self-explanatory. This is not really my area, so I’d appreciate the help.
Every resistance needs a good mob. There’s a place for everyone; and on the whole, your survival chances are quite high, so long as you keep your head down. On the other hand, if you say a line of dialogue, or allow the camera to zoom in on your face as you roar and shake your fist, you’ll probably be killed. Fair warning. (There’s an outside chance you may become a minor protagonist later, but I wouldn’t bank on it if I were you.)
This is what our movement needs most of all: people who are willing to fail. The ambitious are of no use to us. What we need are people who are willing to disappoint their families, and alienate their friends. We need people who are willing to give up their dream of the corner office, the cushy post, the prestigious publication. We need people who are willing to blow their life’s savings on some harebrained scheme to help people more vulnerable than themselves. We need people who are willing to subsist on beans, and sleep in cars. We need people who are willing to look foolish, and who are even resigned to appearing insane. We need people who are willing to die poor and alone, someday, in some shabby place, quietly, in obscurity, unremembered, having accomplished nothing they hoped for when they were young.
This, far more than brave last stands on barricades, and far more still than brave election-themed posts on Facebook, is what history demands of the vast majority of ordinary people who would try to do good in dark times—and this world of ours was dark enough before Donald Trump. If you’re prepared for all that, then you need no instructions from me. Good luck, and godspeed.