Resisting Reality at Harvard

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If Hillary Clinton “joining the resistance” wasn’t enough, Harvard now has its own resistance, too. 

In response to President Donald J. Trump’s election this past November, several students at the Harvard Kennedy School, a graduate school that grants master’s degrees in public policy and public administration, have founded “The Resistance School,” a free, workshop-style program on “practical skills for taking back America.” 

From whom are Resistance School leaders taking America back? It isn’t immediately clear from their website or Facebook page. The website’s home page does not actually mention the president at all, but when one delves into the letter from the founders on the “Who We Are” page, one finds their claim that they have “lost more than just the presidency.”

This group of “progressive” Harvard graduate students lays claim to such a wide diversity of thought in that it includes staffers from Bernie, Hillary, and Obama’s campaigns; community organizers; journalists; and advocates in the realms of human rights, veterans’ affairs, and campaign finance reform. The site articulates the founders’ desire to “help transform our country to better reflect our shared values.”

This “school,” whose founders have likened it to “Dumbledore’s Army” of Harry Potter fame, seems to be a place where thousands of individuals have come together in person and digitally to learn about working outside of the system. This is all well and good, but the implication that working from outside, rather than trying to foster compromise from within government, is better seems dubious at best.

This is particularly relevant because of their claim that Republican control of Congress and state legislatures has enabled them “to launch an all-out attack against our nation’s creed – that all are created equal.” Nowhere does the website articulate what Republicans have done to attack the idea that all are created equal. But if it is only the Republicans’ control over government bodies that allows them to launch this alleged atrocity, then it seems illogical to launch a grassroots resistance movement that is aimed at advocacy and community organizing rather than gaining seats in Congress. 

Liberals in America need to focus on reality — Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States, and Americans should be trying to affect the policies he is implementing so that they are successful for our nation. If liberals want to make a real, tangible impact on Donald Trump’s presidency, they should think about calling their members of Congress and asking them to promote bipartisan, compromise legislation — not just exiting from the political process altogether. 

The program talks a great deal about things like “strong organizations” and “leaders for lasting resistance.” However, it does not articulate what they might do when they achieve their goals. It does not even articulate what their goals are in any concrete terms, other than “to resist.”

While this is not an administration-run program at Harvard, it is reflective of the campus climate. There were no resistance movements organized by conservatives on campus to resist the election of Barack Obama in 2008. But on November 9, 2016, the day after Trump was elected, midterm exams were canceled and support groups sprang up across campus. I have no doubt that these things would not have occurred had the campus favorite, Hillary Clinton, won the presidential election.

More students at Harvard call themselves socialists than conservatives. This leads to a dangerous and pervasive group-think mentality that seeps into all aspects of life on campus, too often including the classroom. This “Resistance School” is just another echo-chamber where campus liberals can come together and discuss their own moral superiority over those with whom they disagree, rather than going out into the world and trying to forge consensus with the other half of the country. 


Emily Hall is a rising senior at Harvard College, where she is the President of the Network of Enlightened Women and Vice-President of the Harvard Republican Club. Follow her on Twitter: @emh731.