Stephen Colbert Is Not America (And So Can You!)


Fans show their support for Stephen Colbert at a campaign at the University of South Carolina on Oct. 28. (Aluka Berry/MCT)

Published: November 8, 2007

One small step for Stephen Colbert means one giant leap for the total destruction of democracy and American values. By jumping into the race late as an independently-funded show business personality, Colbert’s joke at the expense of the American election system is now unsuccessful as well as inherently unfunny.

On Nov. 1, the Democratic Party’s executive council in South Carolina—the lone state where he pledged to run in both the Republican and Democratic primaries—denied him the political stage. Although he paid a $2,500 filing fee, the executive committee voted to keep Colbert off the Democratic ballot. As for the Republican ticket, Colbert didn’t produce the filing fee of $35,000 on time.


Colbert had literally decided to run for the sake of running, without any sort of political platform. This action deliberately tried to turn the presidential election into a circus. Since he had not officially affiliated himself with either of the major parties, Colbert’s candidacy would have accomplished nothing.

The United States was founded on a multi-party system that has been dominated by Democrats and Republicans, both of which have candidates that rise to the top in terms of publicity and budget. Third parties’ candidates and lesser Dem/Rep candidates, e.g. Ralph Nader or Ross Perot, do serve an important function of introducing ideas unattached to the mainstream party platforms.

However, their presence also comes with a risk: taking fringe votes away from the leading contenders. According to the Democratic Leadership Council homepage, in 2004, Ralph Nader got 2.6 percent of the presidential vote, more votes than George W. Bush’s 1,800-vote election-night margin. What if those votes had gone to Al Gore?

Even though many voters, especially young people, are disillusioned with the state of politics in this country, there is no practical way that Colbert was going to be able to hold his own, let alone seriously compete with the leading favored candidates without the association of any political party or a boatload of money. The media didn’t even pay him any sort of attention that rivaled the spotlight on Obama, Clinton or Giuliani.

Colbert’s supporters, the leftist college kids (in our minds, the cream of America’s crop), have been mobilized into action—by watching a guy dick around on TV. Instead of funneling his considerable influence into a real, decent candidate or in support of a certain political ideology, Colbert decided to run a floundering, blustering presidential campaign for his own amusement. And we ate it up. The 1,358,865 member-strong “1,000,000 Strong for Stephen T. Colbert” Facebook group is one of many phenomena the older generations see as an effect of the national decline of intelligence and acumen.

Need more proof? “It’s taken Obama’s 1,000,000 Strong Group more than 9 months to get 381,000 members, We beat it in less than 5 days! We overtook them within 5 days!” the page lauds.

In short, Stephen Colbert would not have won either of the primaries in the state of South Carolina. What he did, and continues to do, is unconstructively mock the system and further inauthenticate the state of America’s politics. For someone who obviously cares about the government very much, his on-screen bumbling, pundit persona aside (imitation is the highest form of flattery!), how could Colbert dedicate so much time and effort into subverting a cornerstone of the political process in an election that—with a war raging in Iraq and domestic problems at home—has so much importance? And, how could we, as a nation, have laughed about it with him?