Ten years ago, I met a Canadian girl at a youth hostel in Scotland who learned about American politics via The Daily Show. I will never forget her words. She said, "My biggest sadness is that one day Jon Stewart will die and he won't be around to host the show anymore." I think at the time, I was like, "Damn, girl. That's some serious love." But she was right. Except, he didn't die. It just felt like he did.
I've always loved Jon Stewart. I remember when he hosted his own talk show on MTV and introduced the world to a ridiculous game called "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." Come on, you've all played it. That show didn't last, of course. Who could've guessed that Jon Stewart would become so influential as the host of a 30-minute Comedy Central program?
But that's the thing. Not only did Jon Stewart influence American politics, he influenced my interest in American politics. In my 20s, I didn't care much about what went on politically in this country. Sure, I voted in big elections -- governor, president -- that sort of thing. But I never paid attention to the politicians who were making the decisions that affected me. And those decisions do affect me.
My husband is a federal employee and the sole earner in our house (writing doesn't pay anything...yet). Sequestration cuts and the government shut down adversely affected my family. I called the office of my House representative Tom Marino and actually cried to the staff member who answered the phone. I was so upset and outraged that a government official, elected through bullshit gerrymandering, was screwing around with people's lives in order to make a point.
Thanks to Jon Stewart, I make it my business to pay attention to what goes on, both locally and nationally. I'm not intimidated to contact my state senator and let her know that our public library is failing. Or tweet my U.S. senators to let them know that I disagree with defunding Planned Parenthood. I once heard that if politicians receive six or seven emails or tweets or phone calls about an issue, they pay attention. Because if seven people have contacted them about an issue, they know there are many others out there who feel the same way, but who won't pick up the phone. So now, I make my business to be one of those seven.
Maybe without Jon Stewart, I would've naturally grown more political as I got older, or maybe not. I don't know. All I know is that I really miss him. I'm going to continue to DVR The Daily Show when it premiers with Trevor Noah, because I like Trevor a lot and the fact that he's eye candy is an added bonus.
But, I'm glad I lived in the age of Jon Stewart.