This is a time when politics has become performance art. Glenn Beck welcomed a fife and drum band onto the steps of the Lincoln memorial, the House Minority Leader called for a yearlong ban on new federal regulations, and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer made up tales about headless bodies being found on the border. Steven Colbert’s recent testimony before Congress would at first appear to be just another stunt. While it was a very entertaining performance, it also contained an element that has lately been lacking in political gestures: empathy. Colbert appeared, in character, before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Security last week. When called upon to explain why he cared about the issue of migrant labor, Colbert broke character and expressed a desire to help because “migrant workers suffer, and have no rights.” In doing so he reminded everyone that underneath each policy and catchy generalization are real people whose lives will be changed, hopefully for the better. Legislation and regulation have become ideological and electoral battlegrounds. Politicians and pundits constantly compete to be the person who can voice the most extreme position. They argue over the smallest pieces of wording and procedure, focusing on the process by which the law is made instead of its effect. As a result, bills or policies that would offer people critical help fail or are delayed until they are no longer needed. It time for everyone to remember that each political decision has a human consequence. Refusing to make the slightest concession might build up your credit in the game of politics, but it may cost millions of Americans a chance to improve their situations. Colbert’s words demonstrated that the true power of politics is not its ability to give more power to those who already have it, but to aid those who would otherwise have no voice and no relief. Politics can give more children the chance to get a great education, protect people from discrimination, and ensure that those who serve our country receive adequate care. People elect politicians because they want them to achieve these types of things. They want them to shape the world into something that they believe will better, and gestures which draw only publicity do nothing to achieve that aim. Abigail Burman is a new Upper from Silver Spring, MD.