Before I get into this let me just say that I understand this is a site that covers the world of comedy and that the following words may seem “off brand” for Laughspin. But take a few glances at your Twitter feed, populated with your favorite comedians, and shows like Last Week Tonight, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee — even Stephen Colbert who’s no longer exactly doing a political comedy show anymore — and you’ll notice that the election of Donald Trump is a concern for many of our funny friends. So, bear with me. Because I, too, am deeply disturbed by what’s gone down in the United States in the last few weeks.
Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart sat down with Charlie Rose for CBS This Morning for an interview that aired yesterday. What we find is a measured Stewart who, despite the justified horror expressed by the nation’s Democrats, liberals and those who otherwise supported Hillary Clinton or didn’t support Donald Trump during the presidential election, opines that we’re the same country we were two weeks ago. The overall take-away from the chat with Rose (a second part will air next week) is that there is a lot more nuance in play when it comes to who Trump supporters are. Stewart, for example, warned against those who voted for Hillary Clinton who are now labeling all Donald Trump supporters racist.
“I thought Donald Trump disqualified himself at numerous points,” Stewart says. “But there is now this idea that anyone who voted for him is — has to be defined by the worst of his rhetoric. Like, there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that I think have incredible qualities who are not afraid of Mexicans, and not afraid of Muslims, and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums. In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look as Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”
While I agree with Stewart’s fundamental sentiment — that voting for Trump doesn’t make you a racist nor does it mean you agree with all of his actions, regardless of how disturbing — he makes it way too easy for Trump supporters to circumvent responsibility. As John Oliver so effectively outlined on the Last Week Tonight finale this past Sunday, Donald Trump was not a normal presidential candidate and he shouldn’t have been treated like one and we shouldn’t, moving forward, treat him like a normal President of the United States, especially now with his cabinet picks coming to light. With other candidates it may have been acceptable (but only slightly) to vote on one issue– abortion, gun control, healthcare, campaign finance reform, insurance premiums, as Stewart mentions, whatever– because no other candidate was as overtly dangerous as this one. Comedian Hari Kondabolu put it more succinctly this morning on Twitter.
All Trump supporters may not be racist, but they all certainly are accomplices in racism.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) November 18, 2016
Election 2016 was like none other in American history. Some traditional voting practices should’ve been heaved in favor of doing what’s best for the country, despite your political party. It was an election of common sense. And, I’m sorry. But if you thought Trump was the answer to more jobs, a better tax system or whatever it is you believed or made yourself believe a sociopathic billionaire would do for you, then you’re missing a lot of facts– or you’re blissfully ignoring the facts because you hate yourself but love voting against your best interests.
To be clear, this was a triage election that needed votes to be pragmatic and nothing more.
America was bleeding. Hillary Clinton was the bandage that would’ve helped stop the election gore so the U.S. could live to fight another day; Donald Trump was the knife that caused the bleeding in the first place. We didn’t have the luxury of basing our vote on our favorite issue. Our only issue this election cycle should’ve been: let’s not allow the lying, pathologically narcissistic reality show host — the only commander-in-chief candidate in modern time not to release his taxes despite perhaps having the greatest degree of potential conflicts of interest in presidential history — to become the leader of the country we love.
If you voted for Trump in spite of his racist comments about Mexicans, his xenophobic attitude toward Muslims, his bragging about having the permission to sexually assault women due to his fame, his constant and very public references throughout the years about how, if he wasn’t married, he’d date his daughter Ivanka; his well-documented history of stiffing small business owners, his promise to silence American media if they report on things he doesn’t like, his adoration for Russian President Vladimir Putin (who has, in fact, done a great job, himself, silencing Russian journalists) or his tax plan that, regardless of what he said during campaign rallies about lowering rates for the middle class, will mostly benefit the top 1 percent and actually hurt middle class families, then I weep for you.
Does it mean you’re racist? Not necessarily. I’d go out on a limb and say, however, it means you’re not paying attention or, at the very least, you have terrible judgment and a distorted view of priorities. You probably lack foresight, too. And it also means you’re ok with a man who represents so much of what is vile about this country. It wouldn’t have taken a political science scholar or an American History professor to have anticipated that the emboldened-by-Trump far right would begin to act out on their prejudices. You may be a Trump voter who believes this type of hatred is disgusting. But you contributed to it. You’re not allowed to vote for the Trump who’s just pro-Israel or anti-abortion (or whatever cause to which you subscribe). You have to vote for the whole steaming pile of vacuous bluster.
Below is Stewart’s take on the situation. I guess he’s a lot more understanding than I am about the whole situation.