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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Political commentators offer fresh new ideas

    It’s going to take a lot of self-discipline to resist writing in Jon Stewart on my ballot in November.

    Stewart proved in his face-off with conservative political commentator Bill O’Reilly on Saturday night that he, not President Barack Obama, would be the best candidate for the Democratic party. His performance captured everything Democrats had hoped to see from the president in last week’s debate: logical propositions, concise answers and assertive tactics.

    Even with the jokes and explicatives, Stewart’s arguments were more effective than many of Obama’s long-winded responses Wednesday night. Not only did I find myself laughing, I found myself nodding in agreement. Call me a flaming liberal, but Jon Stewart is who this country needs.

    The “Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” between Stewart and O’Reilly was a mirror image of last week’s presidential debate, but this time, it was the Democrat who showed up for the event and the Republican who was left behind.

    Although O’Reilly made several thoughtful, well-defended arguments, he appeared less invested in the debate. He played it for what it was: an entertaining skirmish between two political personalities. Stewart, on the other hand, could have been making a speech on the Senate floor.

    “What do you think is the most fundamental problem with the public political discourse?” asked “Rumble” host E.D. Hill, reading a question posed by members of the audience.

    O’Reilly pointed to his left. “Stewart,” he said.

    After a hearty laugh with the rest of the auditorium, Stewart seriously addressed the question.

    “Honestly, I think that we’ve lost our ability to problem solve,” he said.

    “This isn’t a conversation between freedom and tyranny and capitalism and socialism … bureaucracies have huge problems, and they need really smart administrators. That’s what this country and what this conversation should be about. Not about one part of the country somehow carrying the flag of freedom and the other part of the country fundamentally undermining it. I think that’s bullshit.”

    O’Reilly responded in typical Republican fashion: “The problem is, and by the way, I had no idea what you just said, the problem with the discourse deal is capitalism.”

    He went on to claim that freedom of speech, encouraged by capitalism, is the problem with political discourse in the United States. Perhaps I misunderstood the conservative agenda, but I thought upholding the Constitution and empowering the free market were top priorities.

    Apparently I wasn’t the only person confused by O’Reilly’s answer. At one point, Stewart tilted his head and said, “Say that again?”

    Jon Stewart’s performance proved three things. One, there are people in this country who have fresh ideas and bold solutions to bring to the table. Two, these people understand Americans and the problems they face. Three, these people are neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney.

    Instead, these political pioneers are journalists who insert their voices into public discourse, but rarely assert their presence into the realm of policy. On the liberal side, they are news anchors like Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow. On the conservative side, they are columnists like George Will and Charles Krauthammer.

    These commentators generate ideas, criticize politicians and energize the public. The problem is none of them are running for president.

    Forty percent of the electorate is either “not too or not at all satisfied” with this year’s presidential choices, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. This means the winner will not represent what the majority of Americans want. He will simply be the lesser of two evils.

    This doesn’t mean Americans should write in Jon Stewart. Rather, they should remedy the effects of a mediocre president by bringing the ideas of political commentators to the attention of their representatives through petitions, letters, tweets and emails.

    If enough of the electorate demonstrates a desire to implement these ideas, such proposals could become legitimate legislation.

    Although Jon Stewart is not running for president, his ideas can still be part of the political discourse. But if the “Rumble” is to be heard, American citizens must ensure it is broadcast loud and clear on Capitol Hill.

    — Savannah Martin is a junior studying political science and journalism. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @SavannahJual

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