At times Colbert's monologue sounded more like a eulogy for an America that had just passed, but it's important to remember that in the best tradition of even the most somber wake there is also laughter among the tears.
[COLBERT] "Now, I think we can agree that this has been an absolutely exhausting, bruising election for everyone, and it has come to an ending that I did not imagine. We now all feel the way that Rudy Giuliani looks. Seeing this election, everyone's going to be saying has America lost its mind? And the answer is evidently 'back off buddy, we got 300 million guns, and we're kind of stressed right now,'" he said, keeping the tone of the speech lighthearted at first. But the elements for the words that were to come were already there, and they were painful. "By every metric, we are more divided than ever as a nation.... How did our politics get so poisonous? I think it's because we overdosed, especially this year. We drank too much of the poison. You take a little bit of it so you can hate the other side and it tastes kind of good and you like how it feels and there's a gentle high to the condemenation. And you know you're right, right? You know you're right."
These haunting words were just the beginning of a speech that is still giving me chills, that is still giving the internet chills, and that certainly gave the audience chills — because they were completely silent throughout all of it. Colbert went on to talk about his family, his mother, and the fact that our modern society has gotten too deep into politics and into hating each other, so much so that winning becomes more important than consequences.
I don't blame the audience for not having words to say. For all his eloquence, even Colbert seemed to be choosing his words carefully, unsure what to even say about the way the polls were going. It's hard. It's painful. It's so, so true that we are divided as a nation. He hit the nail on the head, and gave us a speech that will resonate with so many people. And, better still, a speech that ended on as high a note as it could. "I'd like to try to end this election season right now by voting unanimously on a few things that all bring us together," he finished. "Fair warning: some of these are silly. But, in the face of something that might strike you as horrible, I think laughter is the best medicine. You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery."