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In a thoughtful, reflective interview with Charlie Rose, which aired on Thursday’s CBS This Morning, Stewart remained hopeful about America but cautioned people against viewing Trump’s supporters as believing in all the things the president-elect has said.
After feigning surprise at the fact that we just had an election and fumbling around a bit when asked about his reaction, Stewart ultimately said, “Here’s what I would honestly say: I don’t believe we are a fundamentally different country today than we were two weeks ago. The same country with all its grace and flaws and volatility and insecurity and strength and resilience exists today as existed two weeks ago. The same country that elected Donald Trump elected Barack Obama. I feel badly for the people for whom this election will mean more uncertainty and insecurity. But I also feel like this fight has never been easy.”
The former Daily Show host, being interviewed in connection with an upcoming Daily Show oral history, said it was ironic that the Republicans argued that government doesn’t work but decided to “make sure government doesn’t work and then I’m going to use its lack of working as evidence of it.” He said Republicans will now embrace government, taking advantage of Trump’s victory, which Stewart called a response to both parties.
“Donald Trump is a reaction not just to Democrats but to Republicans. He’s not a Republican; he’s a repudiation of Republicans,” Stewart said. “But they will reap the benefit of his victory in all of their cynicism. I will guarantee you Republicans are going to come to Jesus now about the power of government.”
Stewart also indicated it was important to continue to embrace the many ethnicities and cultures that make up America, and respecting that diversity also means not viewing Trump’s supporters as “a monolith.”
“I think what many would say is what makes us great is America is an anomaly in the world. There are a lot of people, and I think his candidacy has animated that thought that a multiethnic democracy, a multicultural democracy is impossible. And that is what America by its founding and constitutionally is,” Stewart said. “I thought Donald Trump disqualified himself at multiple points, but now there’s this idea that anybody who voted for him has to be defined by the worst of his rhetoric. There are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, who I think have incredible qualities, who are not afraid of Mexicans and not afraid of Muslims and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums.”
He continued, arguing that “liberals” should apply the same philosophy they use when cautioning people not to view Muslims as all being alike to Trump’s supporters.
In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. ‘Don’t look at Muslims as a monolith. … But everyone who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist.’ That hypocrisy is also real in our country,” Stewart said. “And so this is the fight that we wage against ourselves and each other because America is not natural. Natural is tribal. We’re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something. That’s what’s exceptional about America. This ain’t easy. It’s an incredible thing.”
The rest of Stewart’s interview with Rose will air next week.
Watch the portion that aired Thursday morning in the video below.
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