December 5, 2020

Super PAC super fan

ILLUSTRATION BY VICTORIA COURTNEY. Data collected from opensecrets.org

On Thursday, March 29, comedian and late night television host Stephen Colbert issued a challenge to his collegiate viewers. The “Colbert Report” star received an email from students at the University of Texas. They asked to be involved in his Super PAC (political action committee), “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.” Colbert responded by announcing the Colbert Super PAC Super Fun Pack, a $99 start-up package with prizes and the legal documents to create a Super Pac.

“I want every college across this great nation to have their own Super Pac,” Colbert said.

Webster University freshman Hailey Kaufman wants Webster to join Colbert in his mission. That’s why she started the group “Gorloks for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” on Facebook.

“I started watching ‘The Colbert Report’ (TCR) before eighth grade, and I’ve been wrapped up in its culture ever since,” Kaufman, a philosophy major, said. “What I first loved about TCR was just how hilarious it is; his comedy can be both goofy and intellectual. I’ve also always loved the culture of the show, the Colbert Nation that follows and obeys him. It’s a worldwide community of smart, creative, witty people who tend to just love all over each other and connect via their love for the show. If I could make a career out of learning about and loving Colbert and his work, I would.”

The group has gathered more than 90 members since it was created on March 30. Though no money has been raised yet, Kaufman has asked the group for help with donations and setting up a PayPal account so they can purchase the Super Fun Pack.

The pack includes Stephen Colbert tube socks, a list of America’s 400 most wealthy individuals and a door sign that states, “If this Super PAC is Caucusing, Don’t Bother Knockusing.” But, Kaufman is most excited about

the treasure map — the first school to figure out where the “treasure” is will win a visit from Colbert.

Kaufman said Colbert and other “infotainment” hosts like Jon Stewart have a unique opportunity to present political ideas through comedy to make a point about American society.

“Colbert creating and using his own PAC has perhaps been instrumental to getting the concept of the PAC discussed around America,” Kaufman said. “He and Jon Stewart have been illustrating the litany of opportunities that PACs have to influence elections, and they’ve been doing it in a playful way that gets people’s attention. If we can get the project running, I would like for us to serve the same purpose. I hope we can inform the Webster community of this new political development that could be interpreted to be undermining various aspects of our democratic freedoms.”

Bruce Umbaugh, philosophy professor, has been active on the “Gorloks for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” Facebook page. He said Colbert’s mockery of political campaign funding led him to be involved.

“What really fascinates me about what SC is doing is that he’s using a mock political campaign and incredibly over-the-top sarcastic things in order to make really serious political points,” Umbaugh said. “I don’t think anyone has made the point about the consequences of the citizen’s united decision for how it changes the landscape of campaign financing as effectively as Colbert has. It’s really smart.”

Kaufman said Colbert’s television show helps her keep track of current events, though it’s important viewers understand Colbert and his humorous view. She said she doesn’t follow politics much but “The Colbert Report” keeps her interested.

“I’m grateful for ‘The Colbert Report’ because it keeps me at least loosely attached to current events,” Kaufman said. “The show serves that purpose for a lot of young people. It’s probably not the most healthy way to approach staying informed, but it’s better than nothing.”

“Gorloks for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” is still trying to work out a way to purchase the Colbert Super PAC Super Fun Pack. Kaufman said she hopes more Webster students become active in the group and make her dream of bringing Colbert to campus a reality.

“It’s difficult leading a cause when you’re more motivated to start it than anyone else,” Kaufman said. “I don’t want that to be the case here. This shouldn’t just be my project; it should be a collective thing for many people to enjoy.”

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