But, if this election season has reminded me of my enthusiasm for politics, it has also reminded me of the foolishness that is politics. Innumerable gaffes from both sides, antagonistic words thrown at each other and passion so blinding that the interests of the country are often lost — this is the state of politics today.
Two of my favorite people in the world are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Whenever I had time — and that’s past tense for a reason — I would watch their shows after school, hear about the wildest stories in politics and get some laughs in, all at once. Stewart and Colbert, through banter and parody, lay bear the typical ridiculousness and gaffes of American politics. But what took me a while to realize, perhaps because I didn’t want to become so disillusioned so early in life, is that in their banter and parodies were larger truths about our politicians.
And it is because of this that so many of my friends go straight to sources like these to stay up-to-date, skipping typical news sources. Firstly, some major news channels are so decidedly biased that if any gaffes are to be called out, it will always be at the expense of the opposing party, even if facts are obscured as a result. Obviously Stewart and Colbert have party affiliations and display some bias, but, ultimately, both parties have equal opportunity to end up on the chopping block. And while some networks are mostly unbiased, this can also lead to a lack of zeal that makes watching something interesting.
Recently, Colbert was on Meet the Press for a one-on-one interview with host David Gregory. The way he explained his and Stewart’s banter-to-truth methods were spot on with what I’d always gained from their shows — whenever anything particularly ridiculous, foolish or just plain stupid occurred in the world of politics, Stewart breaks down said occurrence and Colbert reconstructs. This way Stewart is able to pick apart the absurdities, while Colbert reconstructs them so what politicians seriously said now sounds absolutely foolish. Different approaches, but the same goal. Expose and cut through the bull.
And that’s what America needs. But more specifically, what 20-something-year-olds need, because at our age all we do is cut through the bull. This is not to say our parents or professors take everything politicians’ say at face value; time and experience have probably taught them not to. But this life experience often leads to jadedness — an exhaustion of “crazy, stupid politics” so great they usually move on when another round of absurdity begins. But because young adults, college students, are so forthright, they expect, or at least hope, others will be too. Thus, when politicians attempt to beat around the bush, make seemingly impossible gaffes or just baldly lie, the works of Stewart, Colbert and all political satirists tell us, “Hey, it’s not just you. We, too, realize the incessant idiocy occurring. We feel your pain, and you don’t have to face it alone.”
What’s funny is politicians often complain about this and the “gotcha media,” as a fan favorite coined it. But really, if no one said “gotcha” to the ridiculous things politicians said, then, by default, they would become the norm. And who would want that to be the norm? Not me. Know why? Because I love America.
What the politicians of America need to do is return to the table — after righting it again — accept both the successes and errs of past, but through this create a new greatness for the America we live in today. It is the only way we can move forward. After all, the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one.
Lea Trusty is a freshman from Saint Rose, La. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.