For my part, I found Stewart’s last commentary to be extremely effective, if only because it inspired me to take a searching self-inventory. Here’s the question I asked myself: Pick a political opponent, someone you really hate, in terms of political positioning. Yeah, it might be knives out between you and them, in terms of cap and trade or tax policy, but ask yourself: would you celebrate their daughter’s graduation from college? If they told you their father had died, would you lend a consolatory embrace, or would you take a secret glee? If they were broken down at the side of the road, would you pull out and offer up your jumper cables, or drive on by….
So, while I wasn’t too terribly impressed with the comedic content on this occasion, I was nevertheless plenty moved by Stewart’s soliloquy on decency and how the overamplification of our worst impulses and arguments tend to overshadow it. It’s a tough remember at election time. We’re taught to think of democracy as two sides that want a chance to steal the other’s birthday, instead of a democracy in which ideas compete with one another. But we go on with life together, once elections end. When’s the last time someone you disagree with actually came through for you when you needed it? For me, it was this morning. Keeping that in mind would be an eminently sane and decent thing to do.