I have it from a reliable source that the team at Jon Stewarts The Daily Show is despondent. Stewart and his team thought their satire, most of it directed against the Republicans, would help encourage large numbers of young voters to support the Democrats. In fact, their youthful demographic failed to make an impressive showing at the polls.
This is a puzzle. The Daily Show is almost certainly the wittiest thing on television. But it was also, in the weeks before the election, a platform for mockery. Night after night, Stewart held up Republicans to ridicule. This should have made the show a formidable platform for recruiting the Democratic vote from a constituency that a) does not vote enough and b) could have tipped the balance in this very close election.
So what happened? There is one dark possibility. It is that Stewart actually succeeded in driving his viewers away from the voting booth, not towards it. It may be that this nightly ridicule had the effect not of discrediting the Republicans but the idea that Washington can serve the peoples will. In short, Stewarts show may have discredited the office as much as did the incumbent.
Dont get me wrong. Satire is a good and noble thing. No democracy can survive without it. (And we must worry that a newly sanctimonious Right might move against it.) But heres the thing that Democrats do not seem always to get: that their absolute presumption of certainty that the other is self serving and corrupt makes the electoral system look like a school for scoundrels. There’s a problem here. The absolute refusal to accept that the political other might sometimes have a point, that the Republicans might have ideas, that the opposition sometimes deserves a thoughtful response all of this begins to corrode politics itself. (Post post insert, with a hat tip to Ennis: I do not mean to suggest that Republicans and other on the Right have not done a good deal of corruding of their own. They have. And no one does certainty and self congratulation quite like the Right.)
Its an irony to match the one noted Friday. When you act as if the opposition is completely corrupt and craven, you create a little piece of cognitive dissonance. You leave the viewer-voter, to ask “If youre so right, how can it be you are not in office? There must be something wrong with the office. In sum, the Democrats’ politics of smugness and certitude may end up demolishing the credibility of the very institution they wish to run.
Im not sure this is true. Im just saying.
Wikipedia entry for Jon Stewart here