What do little kids think about the 2016 election? That's something Stephen Colbert tried to answer by visiting a classroom on The Late Show last week, and he may be the first one to answer it successfully — if not entirely seriously. The question has been raised in the media several times during this year's primary campaign as Donald Trump solidified his lead, promoted discriminatory policies, and insulted his opponents with increasing frequency. Some studies even show that Trump has increased the levels of fear, anxiety, and racial tension in the classroom.
And thus, parents and teachers around the country have struggled to explain "Mr. Trump — a candidate who, if he were a student, would be sent straight to the principal's office," as a March New York Times article put it. Normally an election season would be a time to teach kids about democracy, but not this year — many teachers are avoiding bringing up the subject at all, according to a troubling report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, in an effort to stay non-partisan, while others worry about the things that the kids might learn from the campaign rhetoric.
You'll probably agree that kids will be all right, though, after listening to Colbert's conversation with the "key under-7 voting demographic." They might be the perfect group to dissect Donald Trump, Colbert points out with more than a bit of irony:
I believe kids may have something to teach us all. They're too innocent to understand adult behaviors like mean nicknames and throwing tantrums.
The president, after all, as Colbert describes him, is just like a mommy or daddy. He (or she) keeps people safe, writes laws... and also has nuclear weapons. So what have the kids picked up about the 2016 race?
To start, Colbert held up a collage of all the failed candidates of 2016. The kids don't recognize a single one, but Colbert makes sure they don't sweat it. "Don't worry about it, 'cause you're never going to need to learn them," he told them. Then he moved on to Ted Cruz, holding up a picture of the Texas Senator. The kids didn't recognize him either, but one boy did describe him as "a snake." Very insightful, I must say.
Next up was Bernie Sanders. Colbert describes him as "the older guy who graduated years ago but just keeps hanging around with college kids." It's evidently not just college-age kids, though, because the children immediately ID him with enthusiasm. Colbert explains that "Bernie believes that people don't share enough," and asks the children if sharing is important. The overwhelming response? "Yeah!" Followed by a boy who says, "I think it's fair to share."
The following card featured a smiling Hillary Clinton. The kids seemed less enthused about her, so Colbert explains how they might relate:
This is Hillary Clinton. And she kind of seems like a grandma who gives you candy, but it's not the kind of candy that you like. But you eat it anyway, 'cause it's the only kind of candy that there is. ... You guys know what butterscotch is? Werther's Original butterscotch candies? ... That's all she has. That's the only candy she has.
Finally, Colbert holds up a card with Trump's picture on it. One girl points out his hair kind of looks yellow, whereas a boy counters that it's a "creepy creature that crawled on top of him." They know about his plans for a wall and point out that he's yelling. Then the kids join Colbert in trying to mock Trump's yelling face. Even they can't do it. Scary, huh?
Well, not so fast. Here's where you can see the country might not be doomed. Colbert asks them to help figure out who the next president is going to be. On the count of three, they shout out a cacophony of answers — and not one of them says Donald Trump.
Images: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/CBS (2)