As the nation remains divided after Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory, a voice that was mostly quiet during this year’s volatile election cycle has spoken out and offered liberals a different perspective on Trump supporters.
Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who stepped down from his post in the summer of 2015 not long after Trump launched his candidacy, reflected on the election in an interview with CBS This Morning‘s Charlie Rose on Thursday, and suggested that liberals’ tendency to dismiss all Trump voters as racist or Islamophobic is hypocritical.
“I thought Donald Trump disqualified himself at numerous points. But there is now this idea that anyone who voted for him is — has to be defined by the worst of his rhetoric,” Stewart said. “Like, there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that 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. In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look as Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”
Stewart, who is promoting his latest book, The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History (out Nov. 22) also said that he believes America is fundamentally the same country today that it was before Trump’s election.
“The same country with all its grace and flaws, and volatility, and insecurity, and strength, and resilience exists today as existed two weeks ago,” he said. “The same country that elected Donald Trump elected Barack Obama. I feel badly for the people for whom this election will mean more uncertainly and insecurity. But I also feel like this fight has never been easy.”
Stewart, who made a few brief appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this year to criticize Trump, also argued that Trump’s win is not necessarily a victory for Republicans; rather, it represents a rejection of the traditional GOP.
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“The ultimate irony of this election is the cynical strategy of the Republicans, which is: ‘Our position as government doesn’t work. We’re going to make sure … that it doesn’t work.’ ”
“But they’re not draining the swamp. [Mitch] McConnell and [Paul] Ryan, those guys are the swamp. And what they decided to do was, ‘I’m going to make sure government doesn’t work and then I’m going to use its lack of working as evidence of it,” Stewart said. “Donald Trump is a reaction not just to Democrats, to Republicans.”
“He’s not a Republican, he’s a repudiation of Republicans,” Stewart added. “But they will reap the benefit of his victory.”
Stewart concluded by saying that the reason why Americans continue to live in conflict is because America itself is not “natural.”
“Natural is tribal. We’re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something that no one’s ever — that’s what’s exceptional about America and that’s what’s, like, this ain’t easy,” Stewart said. “It’s an incredible thing.”