In what is being considered a cornerstone discussion synthesizing the state of U.S. politics under a new administration, the Joukowsky Forum’s recent panel featured five political science professors sighing with their heads in their hands.
“They say silence can be more powerful than words, and this discussion literally contained no words,” said IR concentrator and audience member Ethan Homme ’18. “Plus, I walked out feeling even shittier about the world, so I know I learned a lot.”
The Watson Institute’s Peter Andreas opened the panel with an introduction of his colleagues using half-hearted gestures, which was followed by a round of preliminary sighs to establish the main targets of their political chagrin. Discourse soon intensified as conservative firebrand Carol Swain lowered her head into her hands, inviting democratic panelists to cross the aisle. Over the course of the 45-minute presentation, the panel sighed with hanging heads regarding health care, international tensions, and the future of the judiciary.
“I truly think people have been holding back in their assessment of current politics,” said participating Cambridge professor David Runciman, whose eyes were visibly weary from three months of crying himself to sleep over politics. “Until now, slumping and letting out exasperated breaths of air have been limited to the inner offices of think tanks, so I’m excited to have brought the intellectual musings of our collective feeling of utter hopelessness to the mainstream.”
Several students, including economics concentrator Madeline Olson ’20, recall Runciman’s closing expirations as particularly poignant. “Some of the panelists had memorable sighs, but when [Runciman] began to groan and bang his head against the headrest of his chair, the message was pretty clear,” said Olson, also noting that the panel inspired her to be more passive aggressive about politics from now on.
While much of the panel consisted of a round table of sighs, the audience enjoyed a full suite of discourse, including an interdisciplinary exploration of foreheads with fingers and a critical back-and-forth of hands thrown up in frustration. Following the discussion, selected students had the opportunity to ask members of the panel how fucked we are, from “fucked” to “really fucking fucked.”
At press time, the whole panel was kneading their temples and groaning softly.