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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Run, Colbert, Run!

The worst times aren't those long nights before that paper is due, or the disappointing discovery of an empty mailbox after an arduous trek down to the Hop; for me, the worst times are those when I wake up to hear that another piece of America has died. This time, it was the South Carolina Democratic Party.

Even if you don't pay attention to politics, the news, or even what's being put in your drink, you must have heard of Stephen T. Colbert's recent bid for the presidency of the United States. Yes, I was one of those lemmings who joined the "1,000,000 Strong for Stephen T. Colbert!" group on Facebook, and so far he's the only candidate to reach that goal (in eight days, too). Yet the South Carolina Democratic Party swiftly cut this growing movement down by rejecting Colbert's petition to be on the South Carolina ballot. Nov. 1, 2007 marks the end of the short Colbert candidacy at the hands of his South Carolina brethren.

Ho hum, right? It was all a publicity stunt to begin with, and he was never a "serious" candidate, so if anything we saved the taxpayers some money here. This will open up the airwaves for some real political debate. Besides, we let Howard Dean have his time in the limelight, and no one wants to relive that debacle.

But is Colbert really not a serious candidate? It's true that he runs a comedy show on television, and his bombastic antics have involved dancing around senators and lambasting President Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner, but to evaluate those actions at face value is to miss the depth of motive behind the comedy.

Colbert's effective satire of politics demonstrates his understanding of what's wrong with our current system -- something which can't be said for many other candidates. He approaches every interview and every "word" with the intent of exposing the most ridiculous warrants of our politicians. To pretend like Colbert's work is shallow nonsense is to pretend like Bill O'Reilly is serious about his own show (he is kidding, right?).

Perhaps the SCDP felt that Colbert would take away from the legitimacy of debates, because my perception of the debates among both Democrats and Republicans has certainly brought the word "legitimate" to mind. The only things I've observed during these debates are silly reminders of basic cliches we all know about: Other candidates think Giuliani is weak on foreign policy, Barack Obama is too young, Hillary is a liar, etc.

Of course, when they're not bashing each other, the legitimate candidates start promoting their own shallow one-word platforms. We may as well listen to trite recordings saying "Obama is honest!", "Hillary is for change!" or "Romney is for family values!" Colbert would most certainly detract from this legitimate debate.

What I think is more saddening is the Republican's response to Colbert's rejection. Stepping in to take the moral high-ground is Rob Godfrey, the communications director for the South Carolina Republican Party. As reported by MTV, Godfrey stated that "any candidate who meets the constitutional requirements, the federal election requirements and files the appropriate paperwork and pays the fees can be on our ballot," implying that Colbert somehow had some extra chance with the Republicans because they follow the rules.

What he failed to mention is that the filing fee is $35,000 for the Republican ticket as opposed to the $2,500 fee for the Democratic ticket. Apparently in South Carolina, the ink that goes on the ballot for the Republican primary is as fancy as their ketchup.

So if Colbert is a legitimate candidate, the natural question that arises is whether or not a comedian can run America. At that point, however, the entire purpose of his campaign is missed altogether. As many fellow supporters have agreed, support for Colbert's bid stems not from the actual desire to see him in office, but from the desire for the other candidates to see the pervasive discontent over politics in our country. Colbert represents that long lost philosophy that we shouldn't have to choose between the lesser of two evils in every election.

Colbert's candidacy may not have had the intention of pursuing the White House, but it did have the intention of exposing the absurdity within all those who would pursue that prize. On the stump, it could have produced some tangible change, but it would appear that is going to have to come from behind his TV desk.