Jon Stewart: Americans ‘still have time’ to preserve democracy

Comedian Jon Stewart reflected on the state of American politics on Sunday, warning that although the country’s democratic system is under threat, Americans “still have time” to preserve it.

“It’s bracing sometimes to hear the reality of people’s lives in other countries as — it’s not to say that warning signs don’t exist or bells aren’t going off or that democracy is a birth right and it is something that will be always be with us as as a kind of sash that we wear, having been crowned the greatest democracy,” Stewart told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” while discussing an interview from his new Apple TV+ series, “The Problem With Jon Stewart.”

He continued: “But it did remind us that we have a long way to go before we end up in those situations. And it’s kind of like, you know, watching a fable where you realize — like maybe the end of ‘A Christmas Story’ — where you’re like, ‘what day is it? It’s Christmas Day. Oh, my God that’s great, I still have time.’ Like we still have time.”

“But I think we see now that unfortunately the messiness of democracy is oftentimes maybe one of its greatest weak points,” Stewart said, adding later that it’s encouraging to see “on a grassroots level people that are really viewing it as something that they want to protect and that they want to strengthen.”

Stewart’s new show, which premiered late last month, takes a look at various current issues, with the former host of the “The Daily Show” using his second episode to explore the drift toward authoritarianism in the US.

In it, he interviews those who have witnessed the process firsthand in Venezuela, the Philippines and the Middle East, including journalist Maria Ressa and Bassem Youssef, who was once dubbed the “Egyptian Jon Stewart.”

Stewart, commenting on the complexity of a democracy, told Tapper that “people generally want prosperity and security,” but that in their effort to secure those things, chaos might ensue.

“And if a democratic system is having difficulty providing that, or if it’s being subverted by those who want to create chaos so that they can make a more authoritarian government, that’s part of it too,” he said.

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