May 9, 2016

RUBASHKIN | Last Call at the Jacobin Club

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I’ve been trying to come up with a topic for this column for the past 10 hours, and as of yet, I’ve been unsuccessful. One minute I think I’m onto something, and then the next thing I know I’ve been drawn back online and I’m watching a video of Christopher Hitchens being waterboarded by Vanity Fair in the name of journalism. No, these past 10 hours spent on the couch in my lounge have been entirely unproductive, and even a much-needed break to watch Game of Thrones failed to bear any much-needed information.

This is quite unfortunate, given that my column is due in 11 hours and I have yet to begin studying for my exam this week. It is also unfortunate because this is my last column of the year, and my sentimental side is lobbying hard for a thousand words imbued with some sense of finality or conclusion. After all, it’s only human to want to ride off into the sunset while the credits roll on the screen.

It’s not like I am leaving for good. Much to the chagrin of those who leave such wonderful comments on my columns, I will be back next fall(!), and The Cornell Daily Sun will be as well, God willing. On that note, read The Sun, people! A lot of folks put more effort into this paper than I can express in words, and they do it while also going to a school like Cornell. I’m barely organized enough to make it to my first class on Mondays (at 2:55 p.m., no less), so when I see both the dedication of my fellow Sunnies and the amazing quality of the work they put out, I’m left speechless. Make me happy, and pick up a copy tomorrow when you go to get your morning New York Times. Make our advertisers and our business department happy and turn off AdBlock when you check out our website. Call your congressman and tell him how much you love your local college daily paper. But I digress.

How does one place a capstone on a year of columns? I suppose I could do what I normally do and mash out a thousand words about Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), or Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), or how incredibly disappointing the modern Republican Party is and how Lincoln and Eisenhower would totally be Democrats today, but I’m not going to do that, and it’s not for lack of material. At the beginning of the year I wrote a column explaining why Kanye West would be a better president than the illegitimate lovechild of P.T. Barnum and George Wallace the Republicans have nominated, and as the months have gone by I only feel more and more vindicated in that belief. But this isn’t a column about politics. This is a column about columns.

When I chose the name of the column, The Jacobin, I did it mainly because I wanted to get back out on the beach, and it was only idea my sister and I came up with that was even moderately acceptable. It played on both my name and my affinity for European history and it sounded a lot better than “Stuff I Like to Write About.” It wasn’t necessarily there to inform the reader about the column; I wasn’t planning on starting any revolutions or making extensive use of the guillotine I keep in my dorm room, and I instructed a friend from home to drive up to Ithaca and slap me if I ever invoked Robespierre or Saint-Just in my writing.

Its namesake, the Jacobin Club, didn’t meet that nice of an ending. By the time the French Revolution ended and Napoleon took power, the Jacobins who weren’t yet shorter by a head found themselves underneath the same monarchical system they had raised so much hell to defeat, and had only a century and a half of being savaged by the various other European powers to look forward to. No, it’s certainly not my plan for this column to go out like the Jacobins of old. I quite like my head in its current location, and (so long as we are sensible and refrain from electing as president the Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Republican Party) my itch for revolution is virtually nonexistent.

Sometimes people tell me I talk about Trump too much. The Cornell Review once cited my columns as part of a story they ran detailing the Daily Sun’s alleged obsession with the taco bowl-loving businessman. Writer Casey Breznick chastised our opinion section for focusing so much on someone who so clearly was a non-factor in the nomination process and was totally undeserving of our attention. Well, Casey Breznick, who’s laughing now? Perhaps if more people had written about Trump like we did, your party would not be in the mess it has so delightfully found itself in. The Cornell Review may “not apologize” for anything, but even they must admit what a sorry state their party is in. No, I think I wrote about Trump just enough, and, no doubt, he will continue to be my muse for the next five months and 30 days before (again, God willing) he ascends back up his escalator and out of American politics for the duration of forever.

But again, this isn’t a column about Trump. It’s a column about columns, and it’s safe to say The Jacobin wouldn’t exist were it not for a few very important people: my previous editor, Sloane Grinspoon, who read my treatise on why the Backstreet Boys were the greatest boy band of the 1990s and decided that I somehow merited a column in this publication; my current editor, Paulina Glass, who always makes sure my columns are fit for publication and free of pesky Oxford commas; my sisters, for being honest and straightforward in their criticism and suggestions; my parents, for being the same way, only more gentle. Without all of their support and advice, I wouldn’t be here today.

And then there is you, dear reader. Loyal readers, disloyal readers, perennial angry commenter “Abe ’14”, readers who happen to glance at my column while searching the website for Sex on Thursdays, I love you all. I do this for you. So don’t despair. Summer is just a few short months, and like Arnold, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and the Republican Party’s dignity, I’ll be back.

Jacob Rubashkin is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at [email protected]. The Jacobin appears alternate Mondays this semester.