When I took over “The Daily Show” from Jon Stewart in 2015, I was surprised to learn that my job as a late-night comedy host was not merely to entertain but to eviscerate — to attack, crush, demolish and destroy the opponents of liberal, progressive America. Very quickly, people from some quarters — mostly those same liberal progressives — criticized me for not maintaining the minimum acceptable levels of daily evisceration that were established by my predecessor.
The truth is that Jon never liked being labeled the Great Eviscerator. He didn’t think it was healthy, and he always tried to think about the details of issues with a healthy dose of skepticism before going on air and putting his ideas out into the world. But through the lens of the internet, that’s not what people saw. In the early days of the blogosphere and YouTube and social media, people took Jon’s most strident commentary and made it go viral with clickbait headlines, blowing those segments way out of proportion, compared with the more thoughtful segments that made up most of the television show. And, unfortunately, when we look back today, the evisceration (and exasperation) is what most people remember.
The experience of stepping into Jon’s shoes brought on enormous culture shock for me. In South Africa, where I come from, we also use comedy to critique and analyze, and while we don’t let our politicians off the hook, we don’t eviscerate one another. If anything, my stand-up shows back home are a place where we can push away the history of apartheid’s color classifications — where black, white, colored and Indian people use laughter to deal with shared trauma and pain. In South Africa, comedy brings us together. In America, it pulls us apart.
—Trevor Noah: Let’s Not Be Divided. Divided People Are Easier to Rule.
Amen to that. Noah’s column is short, and I encourage you to read the whole thing.
I also urge you to try to understand why a lot of people voted for Trump even though they didn’t like him or his tactics. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Tim Duy, in Desperately Searching For A New Strategy points out that economists and pro-globalization politicians can no longer afford to ignore the people who have been left behind and are hurting, and the ones who aren’t too bad off right now but are worried about the future:
The dry statistics on trade aren’t working to counter Trump. They make for good policy at one level and terrible policy (and politics) at another. The aggregate gains are irrelevant to someone suffering a personal loss. Critics need to find an effective response to Trump. I don’t think we have it yet. And here is the hardest part: My sense is that Democrats will respond by offering a bigger safety net. But people don’t want a welfare check. They want a job. And this is what Trump, wrongly or rightly, offers.
Clinton lost the election because too many people said the existing system wasn’t working for them. A lot of them knew electing Trump was risky, but something needed to be done. If we’re not willing to try to listen and understand them, we’re part of the problem.
December 8, 2016