Hail to the Thief (2016 Edition)
By Daria Morgendorffer

Well, the 2016 presidential election is finally over, and the results are terrible.

Please note that I'm writing this before I actually hear them.

This presidential election has easily been the most depressing in my lifetime, despite stiff competition from all of the others. We were given the choice between a venal, amoral hack who thinks he's above the law and is accused of sexually assaulting women, and a venal, amoral hack who thinks she's above the law and is accused of covering up her husband sexual assaulting women. One uses his business to fund a tawdry political career, while the other uses her political career as a tawdry business.

Is it too late to offer King George his job back?

Daria paused, wondering if she should change that line to read '"King George the Third." Then she began to wonder what number George they would be on once the royal toddler finally got to be king.

She shook her head. '"Focus. You need to get this final draft in already."

But she sighed, leaned back on her bed, and let her gaze wander around the room. This Montana cabin was a great place for her to fulfill her lifelong dream: getting away from the world, specifically human society. Granted, it was actually part of a small village of cabins for well-off tourists, but after this election cycle, she needed a vacation—she was sick of all the awful news (i.e., all of it), her job reminding the world of how doomed their future was, and people of diverse opinions complaining that she was obviously favoring their opponents.

That's why, on this election night, she was almost completely incommunicado—she had rented this place by herself, she was keeping her phone off, and she would only use the Internet briefly to send this article in. Other than that, she was just going to stay inside and catch up on her reading. She might go for a hike, but only as far as the front office, and only if that vending machine didn't deliver. She was perfectly happy not knowing the election results until her vacation ended.

But first, she needed to finish this article.

Just as she was getting back to work, there was a knock at the door. She grimaced, and the knocking came louder.

"Ugh," she said, laying her laptop aside and climbing to her feet. '"Can't you see that I'm trying to be reclusive here?"

The knocking continued to bang as Daria entered the living room. She paused; it suddenly occurred to her this might not be someone from the front office.

Then, suddenly, the door burst open. She jumped back—as a cadre of dark-suited men suddenly ran into the room.

"Hey!" she yelled, as one of the men grabbed her arm.

"You're Daria Morgendorffer, right? The famous columnist?"

"Who wants to know?!" Daria couldn't tell if she was afraid, annoyed, or both.

"I'm Agent Johnston, Secret Service."

"Secret Service?" She looked around wildly, as agents went into each room of the cabin, some holding guns, other walkie-talkies. '"Um...look, I understand if President Obama is upset about my last column, but I didn't mean to imply that he was any more of a failure than Bush. Or, you know, any other president."

Agent Johnston ignored her and spoke into his walkie-talkie. '"Dark Horse is in the stables, I repeat, Dark Horse is in the stables." He turned back to her. '"We need to get you secure. These election results...well, let's just say that they weren't what we prepared for."

"What?! What the heck is going on?!" she demanded, pulling her arm away.

"Haven't you been paying attention to the news?!"

"I've been purposely avoiding the news for the last three days. I'm not sure if you noticed, but it's really depressing."

"Do you at least know about the Twitter campaign?!"

Daria's blank stare answered his question.

The agent sighed, then took out his phone. '"Well, ma'am...as you know...both major candidates this election have been somewhat...disappointing."

"So you read my column."

"Actually, I have one framed at my office at work. The one last year about the—never mind. The point is, your articles, in contrast, are quite popular."

"Tell that to the people sending me death threats."

"And with these candidates...I mean, there were a lot of jokes going around." Agent Johnston sounded uncomfortable. '"Some people said that everyone should just write in the stars of the latest memes. Some people wanted a dead gorilla. But the other day..."

He held up his phone. '"...Everyone finally seemed to settle on you."

Daria blinked, adjusted her glasses, and looked at the phone.

"'Take that, two-party system, hashtag-Morgendorffer2016?' 'I can't believe it actually happened, hashtag-Morgen'—what exactly are you saying?" Daria asked, with dawning horror.

Agent Johnston took back his phone, pocketed it, and slowly turned back to her.

"Ma'am, no one in the Secret Service expected this, but...well, this campaign really took off. Millions of people wrote in your name, and...we've got a cadre of lawyers trying to figure out what you even do in a case like this, but—"

"Congratulations, Ms. Morgendorffer. At the moment, it looks like you are going to be the president-elect of the United States."

Daria was quickly relocated from her isolated Montana cabin to an isolated Montana motel. This seemed redundant, but apparently the Secret Service agents were able to secure it better, being stationed in rooms on either side of her.

Daria spent the next few hours alternating between frenzied pacing, talking to herself, and finally, breaking her media fast as she turned on the TV and tried to find a distraction from her misery.

(Guess what was on every channel?)

"—shocking and unprecedented—"

"—makes Morgendorffer the first woman in history—"

"—hometown of Lawndale, where residents are understandably thrilled by her success."

The screen then cut to a pair of familiar-looking faces, whom the banner identified as Kevin and Brittany Thompson, Lawndale residents.

"Yeah, we knew Daria in high school! LAWNDALE LIONS RULE!"

"She was super smart!"

"Yeah! I mean, we were planning to vote for Trump, because he was always really funny on The Apprentice, but I dunno, some of his ideas are kinda out-there."

"And Hillary called us 'deplorable!' We asked our son and he told us that that was not a compliment!"

Daria groaned, turned off the TV and collapsed onto the hotel bed.

"I can't believe this."

"I know!" Helen gushed. "My daughter, the first female president! I can't wait to call my sisters and really [i]rub[/i] that in their faces."

Daria glared at her computer screen. "Just tell me that there's some way to get me out of this."

"But Daria—"


Helen sighed. "Well, I talked to my old colleague who works in D.C., and he said that since you don't have a party behind you, you need to organize your own delegates for the Electoral College. It'll be a lot of work, but—"

"If I just don't do that, what happens?"

"Most likely, neither Trump nor Clinton will win at the College, and the House of Representatives will have a vote."


"Daria, I do hope that you at least think about this. I know that it's a huge responsibility, but just think of the opportunity! All the good that you could do, the chance to finally take all of your good ideas and—"

Daria heard her father cut in from off-screen. "Is that Daria?! Is my little president on the line?!" He appeared beside Helen, his face flushed, wearing a shirt and hat all in red, white and blue. "Congratulations, kiddo! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Daria took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.

Daria figured that while family had to support her, in their depressing way, her best friend might be more reasonable about the issue.

No such luck.

"Of course I voted for you!" Jane laughed, handing her daughter to her husband off-screen. "Do you really think that I would pick one of those losers instead of my best friend?"

"Yeah, well, thanks having faith in me. I liked it better when I thought that the electorate was made up of self-centered, brain-dead morons."

"I gotta tell you, I don't see the problem here. Your mom is right—you'll be one of the smartest leaders that this country has ever had. Don't you want the chance to finally put all of your common sense into action?"

"But that's the problem—our government isn't designed for people with common sense, it's designed for people who know how to cater to voters. Trying to run our corrupt system with logic would be like trying to run a car on nitroglycerin."

"Hmm. You should think about putting that in your inaugural address."

"Very funny."

Daria slumped over, and Jane's brow furrowed. "You really are freaking out about this, aren't you?"

"Of course I am. The American people honestly expect me to be able to fix this whole country. Which also means becoming the leader of the free world. Do you have any idea how easily I could screw everything up? Even more than it already is?"

"But you've been spending your whole life trying to tell people how to fix the world. And if you don't do this, one of those other morons will get to take office. At the very least you know that you're smarter than either of them."

"Yeah," Daria muttered, "but I'm also the worst version of both of them."

Jane raised an eyebrow. "Explain."

"Think about it. I'm a cold, emotionless robot who has a hard time connecting to anybody—which is the same reason that nobody voted for Hillary Clinton. And you know how many times I've gotten in trouble for insulting people without thinking. Remember how I said that Donald Trump would probably nuke Iceland if their president said something snippy to him? Well, what happens when I say something snippy to Vladimir Putin, and he decides to nuke New York City?"

"Putin wouldn't do that." Jane paused. "But you might want to outsource any negotiations with North Korea."

"I'm being serious, Jane! And let's be honest, the only reason I got so many votes is because I come off as a centrist."

"What's wrong with that? We finally get a four-year break from all of politicians' stupid infighting."

"But only because I don't actually stand for anything! Not really. Whenever I write about an issue, I usually just default to saying that both sides are venal and stupid. But now I actually have to pick between those sides! If Congress passes me a bill, I have to either sign it or not—I can't just make fun of both sides for catering to special interests. How do I—"

"Daria? Calm down," Jane interrupted. She suddenly sounded dead serious. "You are not the worst version of these candidates—they already are. You're, like—the best version of them. You're as smart as Clinton without being self-serving and corrupt, and you've written columns that explain Trump's popularity even when he doesn't seem to understand it."


"And you don't just insult people in your columns. You've made some really good points, had ideas that were outside the box. I don't understand half of them, but that just proves how smart you are."

Daria said nothing. Jane sighed.

"Look, I agree with Helen—at least think about it. And know that we're gonna support you no matter what you decide."

"Thanks," Daria said. She sounded somehow both distracted but sincere.

"Is there anything else that I can do to help?"

Daria's eyes slid away. "Well...if I do decide to take the job piloting this sinking ship, do you want to move to Washington and become my vice president?"

Jane laughed, then looked at Daria's face and froze. "Wait, are you serious?"

Daria hadn't eaten all day, so she took a break from her computer to get some pizza. Which meant, of course, that she got the Secret Service agents to get some pizza for her.

It was surreal. And the idea that she could spend the next four years doing this, and getting them to deliver it to her in the White House...

"No," she said firmly, putting down her slice and glaring at the opposite wall. "You are not going to let Mom and Jane talk you into this. It's too crazy."

And yet...her mind was actually beginning to buzz with ideas of what she could do once she was in office. Sure, they were half-baked, often contradictory ideas that could never actually work, but that didn't mean that she didn't feel excited about them. Hell, it didn't mean that at least some of them weren't [i]good[/i] ideas.

She picked her pizza back up. "Before I even think about doing this, I need to find a more objective advisor," she said.

"So you're really considering this?" Jodie asked.

Daria looked away. "I don't know. Maybe. Does that make me crazy?"

"Sort of. But somehow, not quite as crazy as you actually winning in the first place."

"Does that mean that I should do it, or not?"

Jodie hesitated. "I mean...all the points that you make about why you shouldn't do it are valid. But what if you found somebody actually qualified, made them your VP, and then resigned as soon as you took office?"

"I actually thought about that, but I wouldn't know who to pick. Everyone in politics is either corrupt or unqualified. And besides...it seems like cheating, somehow."

"How so?"

She hesitated, trying to gather her thoughts. "I don't trust myself with the power to single-handedly choose the next leader of the free world, I guess. I don't trust myself to be the leader of the free world, either, but...everybody else does. I shouldn't get to outvote them all. Commit to the bit, you know? If I take office then I can at least claim legitimacy, which my theoretical Gerald Ford would have a harder time doing."

"If you say so." Jodie thought for a moment. "I mean...I don't want either of those other candidates to take office anymore than you do. And I actually voted for one of them."

"Which one?"

"I'm too ashamed to say. Anyway, I know it sounds crazy, but maybe Jane and your mom are right. You could at least try it, right? And you know, you don't have to be like Obama or Bush or anyone else. Back in the old days, presidents were supposed to be hands-off and pretty much let Congress do everything. You could try that."

"Hmm. A figurehead. Well, I'm probably at least qualified for that."

"You could just try to temper everyone else's stupidity—that'll be a full-time job by itself," Jane continued, and to Daria's own trepidation, she was starting to sound excited about the idea. "Worst case scenario, it doesn't work out and you resign, right. Though...in that case, I sort of question you choosing Jane to be your VP. No offense."

"None taken. We've already agreed that she'll resign with me."

"It sounds like you've already planned this out a lot, then."

"Yes. And now it sounds like not even you can talk me out of it."


"Well, to make it up to me, at least agree to come on and help out as my Secretary of State."

Jodie laughed—and then, like Jane, froze when she saw Daria's face. "Wait, are you serious?"

"Well, I also considered my mom, but I think she's going to hold out for that empty spot on the Supreme Court instead."

"And on the news, they said that you're gonna be the youngest president ever, Auntie Daria! 'Cause you just turned 35 last month and that's the youngest that a president can be!"

"That's right, Alex."

"And you're gonna be the first girl president, too!"

"That's right, Chloe!"

"And that makes me the First Nephew!"

"Nuh-uh! I'm first 'cause I'm older!"

"But you're not a nephew, you're a niece stupid!"

"Kids, stop fighting and go help Daddy in the kitchen. Aunt Daria and I need to talk now."

"Okay! Bye, Auntie Daria!"

"Love you, Auntie President!"

The two ran off and Quinn, rolling her eyes good-naturedly, took the seat that they had been fighting over. "So, does that mean that you've finally decided?"

"Yeah, I...I think I'm going to give it a try. Tell me I'm not crazy."

"You're not crazy."

"Oh, like I trust your opinions on politics."

"I'm serious, Daria! Everybody's always known that you were going to go out and change the world. And now you can! Aren't you excited?"

"...No. I'm terrified. Every president has changed the world...except maybe William Henry Harrison. But not all of them have made it better. Do you have any idea how easily I could mess this up?"

"But you'll do a great job. I'm sure of it."

Daria looked away. "Thanks," she muttered. Then, after a moment, "So, one of the Secret Service guys mentioned that I need to pick a White House host or hostess, you know, to organize official dinner par—"

"I'll do it."

"...You know you and Jared will have to move to Washington for this, right?"

"I told him to quit his job this morning. What?" she added, as Daria stared. "Like you were gonna pass up a job where you could tell the entire world what to do for four years! Now, let's start talking about how to make you look more presidential," she said, taking out some magazines.

Weeks passed. Busy weeks. Terrifying weeks. Weeks where Daria was forced to meet politicians and make speeches and do interviews and a hundred other things that she didn't want to do.

And then, finally, the day arrived.

"I can't believe that we're doing this."

"I still can't believe anyone's letting us do this," Jane said. "I mean, at least people know that you're smart. I'm about to go from being a housewife who occasionally sells paintings to a position with even less power or influence."

"You have a very important job. Taking over the country when I inevitably go mad and kill myself."

"Don't let the press hear you say that. You're gonna want your first real scandal to be something juicier, you know?"

Just then, Agent Johnston knocked and poked his head into the room. "The car's here."

"Thanks," Daria said, her voice shakingly slightly. She turned to her friend. "So...ready for our gaudy, expensive inauguration, Madame Vice President?"

"Right behind you, Madame President."

And with that the two opened the door and followed the Secret Service agents to the limousine outside.