Jon Stewart took over host duties at the Daily Show in January 1999 when I was a high school freshman. In the 16 years that followed, he made me laugh, cry, and think. He had a way of making large, often obtuse subjects understandable and relatable. His unique combination of humor, insight and intelligence always made me feel that no matter the situation, there was a solution to make it better. And when he had a guest that had the ability to enact those changes but was not living up to their responsibility, he made sure to let them know that too. It was the first time I’d seen someone speak truth to power, and for the first time I realized that the power rested with the people and not their leaders.
Time passed and Stewart’s voice grew stronger and more respected while still maintaining its comedic vibe – as evidenced by the fact that he has won both Peabody and Emmy awards. He was quickly becoming the go-to guy for people of my age interested in the current events our parents and teachers often discussed amongst themselves, but had difficulty relating to us.
In 2002 I headed off to college, eager to begin the next chapter of my life. I became friends – and eventually roommates – with people from all across the country. We had different life stories; different paths were taken to get there. I couldn’t have imagined a more different place than my small-town Indiana home than Boston, MA where a good friend was from, but something I never expected started to happen. On weeknights at 10:00pm or 11:00pm depending on the time of year (Indiana had no daylight savings time then) we all gathered in one room to watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. To each of us it was like having a friend from back home come in to our lives for 30 minutes a night and tell us what was “really” going on in the world.
As I’ve grown, and moved from the Midwest to the West Coast and back, it was always a comforting in some small way, to know that Jon Stewart would be there; my smarter, certainly funnier friend, still speaking that same truth. When you get older your views and opinions begin to change and evolve, shaped by the experiences you have and the people you meet along the way. I’m certainly no different. While I don’t find myself agreeing with Jon Stewart as much as my younger, wide-eyed optimistic self once did, I still tune in each and every night.
So, as Jon Stewart finishes his run this week, millions of Americans like myself will be saying goodbye to a man whose levity made each day just a little bit better. For that, I say thanks, Jon Stewart.
Ross Willkom is a member of the Capstone team. He is a 2006 graduate of Indiana University with a degree in political science and now works as CEO John Rogers’ Executive Assistant.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.