Most people seem to get the sarcasm of this cartoon, but I’d like to be clear that my intention is to neither deprecate the “feminine” nor celebrate hyper-masculinity. I’ve been wanting to write a comic for a while about how virtually everything is gendered, especially when it comes to political rhetoric. Trump’s statements about climate change (and, well, lots of other things too) are loaded with manly-man dog whistles. Which is ironic, considering that Trump is hardly a chiseled specimen of manhood — the low-energy duffer had to ride in a golf cart behind European leaders as they walked a short distance. The thing is, a large swath of the American electorate is, unfortunately, swayed by tough talk — however stupid — and a fear of being perceived as weak or female. And I’m afraid that to reach those people, you may need to “speak their language” to some extent, by appealing to ideas of toughness. But toughness should not be understood as necessarily male. Caring for the planet we inhabit is a form of strength, virtue, and personal responsibility, qualities that can apply to men and women equally. Incidentally, I wouldn’t go so far as to call Republicans “climate cucks” in real life, as that particular term has problematic alt-right origins, and I use it satirically here. But climate weaklings? Hell yeah.
There seems to be a whole editorial subgenre now of so-called liberals trolling their own for not being nice enough to working-class Americans (as though progressives themselves are not largely made up of the working class). What drives me nuts about this holier-than-thou finger-wagging is that it largely renders invisible the decades-long campaign in right-wing media to demonize and dehumanize “liberals” as a category of person. It’s an enormous industry without any institutional equivalent on the left. Yes, people of all political stripes call those they disagree with stupid, and insults fly on social media. But the double-standard when it comes to professional, big-money media outlets is mind-blowing. How often do you see tut-tutting essays in mainstream publications about the incivility of rich, elite conservative pundits, and how they will alienate hard-working Obama/Clinton voters with their over-the-top insults? Not bloody often!
The reference to plumber butt jokes came from a recent NYT op-ed using this as an example of liberals treating Trump voters with “elite condescension.” Way to use the very frame about “liberal elites” that Republicans been hammering home for eons to divert anger away from themselves, and from the real causes of ordinary people’s economic struggles. It is simply astonishing that this agenda of turning “the libs” into monsters — which has led us to the very door of fascism — could be invisible to so many people. And even that is letting the finger-waggers off too lightly: they are now themselves part of the demonization machine, urging liberals to condemn themselves just in case they haven’t had enough from Fox.
To illustrate just how absurd things have gotten, I actually had the first panel of this cartoon drawn before news broke that Trump leaked classified intel to the Russians in the Oval Office. That was supposed to be parody! Okay, maybe the launch codes haven’t fallen from Sergey Kislyak’s jowls yet… but it’s only a matter of time.
The AHCA is so monstrously cruel any honest description sounds hyperbolic. Not only will it literally kill people, but it’ll kill entrepreneurship too, as workers stay locked in their jobs for fear of losing heath insurance. Self-employed people with pre-existing conditions are hosed. I face the possibility of not having health insurance for the first time in my life. My friend, a cancer survivor, was interviewed on the local news about the prospect of facing unaffordable premiums. So much wonderful freedom! Thank you, House Republicans.
Seems like a lot of otherwise clear-thinking people are falling for the Fox News claptrap about liberals not being “open-minded” enough. This is how you wind up with another white conservative dude being chosen as a diversity hire for the extremely not-diverse NYT op-ed page. Yes, we live in politically-polarized times, and everyone is angry, and sometimes protesters go overboard (neo-Nazis do have a way of bringing out that response in people). But to dismiss progressives as “elitists,” “PC,” and so on, is just trading in insults. It isn’t engaging in honest, thoughtful debate — it’s just trolling.
I’m a bit delayed posting the strip this week, but I have a pretty good excuse. On Monday afternoon, I learned I was a Pulitzer Finalist. I’ve never been so thrilled to come in second place for anything. It’s nice to see the Pulitzers increasingly recognize that political cartoons can come in a variety of formats.
A few relevant reads for this week’s comic: this Mother Jones article explains what you need to know about Trump’s EPA reversing the scheduled ban on chlorpyrifos.
Major studies from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of California-Davis, and Columbia University have found strong evidence that low doses of chlorpyrifos inhibits kids’ brain development, including when exposure occurs in the womb, with effects ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. Several studies—examples here, here, and here—have found it in the urine of kids who live near treated fields. In 2000, the EPA banned most home uses of the chemical, citing risks to children.
See also this from Human Rights Watch: EPA Decision Could Put Children at Risk
This should be getting as much attention as that guy getting pulled off the United Airlines flight. Countless kids, especially child farmworkers, and those who live near farms, will suffer from this decision. Now that’s caring about the working class!
There’s also this about how the Republican replacement for the ACA threatened to hurt children.
And more on how the repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan would affect air pollution, and kids’ health in particular.
I’ve received many comments over the past week about my last cartoon, snootily lecturing me that “We live in a republic, not a democracy.” I’m posting my response here so I can point people to it in the future.
1. A constitutional republic is a form of democracy. To quote from this:
The United States is not a direct democracy, in the sense of a country in which laws (and other government decisions) are made predominantly by majority vote. Some lawmaking is done this way, on the state and local levels, but it’s only a tiny fraction of all lawmaking. But we are a representative democracy, which is a form of democracy.
The primary way to end government corruption is through campaign finance reform and publicly-funded elections. Anti-government libertarians have not supported candidates or policies that would lead to this outcome. Gorsuch will uphold Citizens United, ensuring future corruption of politicians by moneyed interests, furthering the right-wing ideology that government is inherently corrupt. And so the cycle continues.