Guest Column: Stephen Colbert, Herman Cain highlight flaws of primary system in faux bids

Caitlyn Wasmundt

Stephen Colbert, of “The Colbert Report,” announced on Jan. 12 that he would explore the chance of running for “President of the United States of South Carolina.” The only problem was, he was more than two months late to put his name in the running, and there was no option for write-in votes.

The solution for Colbert’s late entry seemed quite simple: Herman Cain, a former Republican hopeful that dropped out of the race about a month prior to the South Carolina primary. Even though Cain suspended his campaign, his name remained on the ballot.

So Colbert urged voters to vote for Cain if they wanted him to further explore the candidacy.

Colbert’s attempt at running for presidency was to point out the flaws of the political system and the ridiculousness of campaign financial law. I thoroughly enjoyed the actions Colbert was taking at pointing out the issues in place today.

As a journalism student, I feel like I should be in the know of all things political and election-based news, but the sad truth is I’m not.

I can’t get past the digs that each candidate makes toward their opponents. I understand it is a contest of sorts, and the grand prize of the presidential election is to be the leader of the free world. But do they really need to do what they’re doing?

How am I supposed to make an informed decision on which candidate to choose when they are just throwing mud at each other and making what seem to be slanderous claims?

Finally though, I thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel when Stephen Colbert announced he would form an “exploratory committee to become President of the United States of South Carolina.”

His “exploratory campaign” may come off as a joke to most, but Colbert has done more through his faux candidacy to highlight important issues facing America than any of the honest campaigns have managed.

With each stage of his exploratory committee, Colbert revealed more about the candidacies’ work behind the scenes.

Honestly, I didn’t know what a super PAC, or political action committee, was before Colbert formed his, which fellow Comedy Central funny man Jon Stewart, of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” has since taken charge of.

The comedians have used Colbert’s candidacy and the super PAC to demonstrate the flaws of a system that has been in place for years. For example, candidates cannot directly coordinate with their super PACs, but it’s OK to communicate through the media, as Newt Gingrich did with his PAC.

Sadly, Colbert, via Cain, only received a little more than 6,000 votes, according to WYFF 4, a local news station in South Carolina.

But in a way, that is impressive for someone who pulled out of the race a month ago. Cain’s 1 percent vote beat out other candidates who dropped out of the race prior to the South Carolina preliminaries also, such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.

I hope Colbert’s humorous attempt to become President of the United States of South Carolina could open the eyes of the candidates who are actually running, not only during this preliminary round, but also during the actual election period. Obviously there is some kind of following for this honest and entertaining approach.

The Lantern, Ohio State University via UWIRE