Trevor Noah discusses the political divide in America

The keynote speaker touched on serious topics while keeping the audience laughing with Trump and Obama impressions


Avalon Pernell

American politics are divisive because politicians aren’t communicating in a way that resonates with voters, Trevor Noah said on Saturday. 

And he believes that, despite the opinion of popular pundits, Donald Trump is a good communicator. 

“You have politics for politicians,” Noah said. “And politics for people.”

The award-winning host of the Daily Show and author of “Born a Crime” was the keynote speaker for Mock Convention. He was interviewed by Speakers Chair Victoria Morgan and National Political Analyst Kyle Perel.

Although Noah touched on many serious topics, like growing up in South Africa as the child of an interracial couple, he kept the audience laughing with jokes and impressions of Trump and President Barack Obama.

According to Noah, Trump is different because his “simplistic language” makes his message easy to understand and accessible to all people.

But he doesn’t think that Trump possesses the important qualities of being a leader.

“One of the most crucial aspects of leadership,” he said, “is the ability to govern those who vehemently opposed you as if they vehemently supported you.”

Trump, Noah said, is different because he hasn’t “taken on the mantle of ‘I am the president of all people.’” Kit Lombard, ’23, agreed with Noah’s assessment of Trump’s communication style.

“I’ve always thought that communication was Trump’s strong suit because even if he can’t articulate the best, you can still understand him a lot better [than other politicians],” Lombard said.

But Noah doesn’t think that this is the most dangerous part about Trump.

“Trump has always possessed the ability to dispute reality,” Noah said. “And he does it really well.”

But Noah worries that if we begin to not have “shared facts” we will no longer have a society.

“Over time, people will start to lose trust not just in institutions,” he said, “but in information.”

Noah thinks that the issues in our society don’t solely lie with Trump being in office. He said he thinks we’re struggling to realize the personal aspect of engaging in conversation, especially when it comes to politics. 

“Nobody rewards reaching out,” he said. “And I think we need to work on that in society.”

Noah said that aspect of America is where he can see the most similarities between his home country of South Africa and the United States. He said people choose to exist in their own world.

“You just talk to your people, your friends, and your politicians,” he said.

But they don’t realize that it is a “waste of great ideas” because we can never grow if we are just being amplified by others who think the same thing.

Rob Minor, ’71, agreed adding that “we never get anywhere” when we just talk over each other.

However, Noah was also quick to acknowledge that this doesn’t mean we should give fringe groups a platform.

“I’m not in the business of engaging with people who aren’t trying to have a good faith conversation,” he said.