As Stephen Colbert explained to viewers at the top of his monologue Tuesday night, The Late Show was on hiatus last week when America experienced its deadliest school shooting since Newtown in Parkland, Florida.
“Like you, I was sickened and heartbroken. Not only by the attack and the loss of innocent life,” the host said. But also by what he “feared would be the complete lack of action by our leaders.” That feeling was “quickly reinforced,” he said, by statements from politicians like GOP Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who “completely abdicated responsibility” in the aftermath of the shooting.
“As a lawmaker, your position is, ‘The laws are useless, everyone into the Thunderdome!’” Colbert said, summing up Rubio’s position. “Then why do we need you? It seems like a houseplant would do a better job, and it would probably need a little less water.”
The one group that is giving Colbert “hope” this week is the students from Parkland, Florida, who have been speaking their minds on gun control as loud as they can. “These students saw their leaders doing nothing and said, ‘Hold my root beer,’” he said. Since “the adults aren’t cutting it anymore,” Colbert proposed changing the voting age to prevent anyone over 18 from casting a ballot until this issue is addressed.
Earlier in the day, those students traveled to Tallahassee, Florida, to try to convince lawmakers there to take action on guns. Despite their protests, the legislators voted overwhelmingly against an assault weapons ban.
“Well I hope these kids don’t give up,” Colbert said. “Because this is their lives and their future. Someone else might be in power, but this country belongs to them.”
“And there is reason for hope,” he continued. “Look at the #MeToo movement. A lot of men in power did not see that coming. But it proved that change could happen overnight. And this is an election year. So if you want to see change, you have to go to the polls and tell the people who will not protect you that their time is up.”