Punditspew, Orlando shooting edition

One of my least favorite parts of being a political cartoonist is having to process these mind-boggling tragedies on a short deadline. It was absolutely clear from the beginning, however, that easy access to assault rifles did not help this situation.

The worst possible response to this attack is to demonize Muslims, as Trump is doing, which only fans the flames of hate and extremism. We know the shooter was virulently homophobic, a belief that may have preceded any affiliation with extremist groups. Whatever the findings in the coming days, it’s obvious that Trump deserves zero “congrats for being right.”


  • Benjamin Schwab

    Every election is the most important election in _________. Whatever time frame people want to hyperbolically use to justify their current enthusiasm. For the record the most important election in US history was the 1860 election and the most important election (save for possibly the 2016 election) in my lifetime (I was born in 1984) was either the 1984 election, 2004 election or 2008 election. Also both of the major party candidates in 2004 and 2008 largely agreed on the issue most important in those elections (what to do in Iraq and how to respond to the crisis of 2008 respectively). This affects analysis of those elections and the right action given their importance.

    Also every year there seems to be more enthusiasm about who the villain is then about who the hero is. If I were to take the emotions of plenty of the most vocal democrats during the 2012 seriously then it would seem they were certain that President Romney would have done more damage to the country in one term then George W. Bush did in two. Every election it is the same and every election the argument is made to vote for the lessor of two evils.

    The problem with voting for the lessor of two evils is that one is helping evil. Now, one may be using the term hyperbolically but I actually think that the Afghanistan War is evil, that the Iraq War was evil, that NATO action in Libya was evil, that NATO action in Syria is evil, that unthinking support of the Israeli Defense Force is evil, that support of the regime of Hosni Mubarak was evil, that the program of extra judicial killings undertaken by the US is evil in a completely non-hyperbolic sense. For me, voting for a Democrat for president would be supporting evil.

    When Mrs. Sorenson published this cartoon, in which in the comments she implied that Secretary Clinton’s support for the Patient Affordability and Accountability Act countervailed her support for war, I set as my goal to counter this attitude and point out to liberals that Hillary Clinton was not an ally of liberalism but an enemy. This cartoon was published while Israel was on one of its kill a bunch of Palestinians sprees. My goal was to convince two people to withhold their votes from Clinton in the 2016 election and instead do something else (whether it be abstaining or voting for a third option or something more creative).

    I did and I do believe that liberals voting for conservative politicians like Hillary Clinton leads to conservative public policy and if there is ever any hope of moving the center of the political spectrum of this country to a slightly more liberal then moderate position from its current position of a slightly more conservative then moderate, then liberals have to stop voting for conservative positions. I still believe this but this might not be the best election to do so. Donald Trump isn’t a Mitt Romney or a John McCain or even a George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton scares me more than Mitt Romney does (partly because there are a large number of liberals who would be active against policies advocated by Mitt Romney that will not be active against those same policies advocated by Hillary Clinton) but nowhere near as much Donald Trump scares me.

    I am dismayed that the choice in this election is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I think that one of the reasons why we have gotten to this point is that conservatives are more likely than liberals to vote contrary to the wishes of “their” respective party’s establishment’s wishes. I am not making a claim on any individual’s voting behavior or faulting anybody. I recognize that, in my analysis, there is a tradeoff to make between preferred policy choices in the long term vs. preferred policy choices in the short term.

    If this was say a Clinton vs. Bush or Clinton vs. Rubio matchup there would be a choice for liberals to make between supporting mildly conservative policies in the short and long terms vs. supporting significantly conservative policies in the short term and liberal policies in the long term. This is a tough decision and while I will pretty consistently be willing to make the choice of better policies in the long term, I respect people who would make the other decision. Both options have consistent and ethical reasoning behind them. Also, while I would defend myself vigorously from those who would blame me personally for the policies of the George W. Bush administration, I must resist the temptation to blame others personally for the choice we now have to make despite the great temptation to justify the double standard.

    By my analysis, voting for Donald Trump would be supporting evil policies and voting for Hillary Clinton would be supporting evil policies (I am passing judgment on the policies they advocate not on the people themselves). Given how scary the prospect of a Trump presidency is to me, I have a very tough moral decision to make. I am uncomfortable with the blood that is on my hands just from being a tax payer. If I give my affirmative support to war by voting for Hillary Clinton then I will be actively supporting something I consider to be significantly evil but, while voting for a third option or withholding my vote from a candidate like Clinton would not be standing by and doing nothing, allowing a Trump presidency by doing so would also have moral ramifications on me. It seems that I have to support evil no matter what I do.

    I suspect that I will withhold my vote from Hillary Clinton (in the battleground state of Virginia) but I haven’t come to a firm decision on that. If I treating this decision with absolute reasoning then I certainly would withhold my vote from Clinton. Moral principles (in effect regardless of how they may feel or how they are stated) are always matters of degree. If this was a Hillary Clinton vs. George W. Bush election then my choice would be clear to me. Given the prospect of a Trump presidency, I still have a lot to work out in terms of how I should behave come November 8th.

    I still believe in what I have said here. I still believe that in general liberals should not vote for conservative candidates even if they have a “D” next to their names. I still believe that on the whole, the Obama administration has done more to hinder the cause of liberalism then to forward it. I can and will defend these positions if asked. Given what the 2016 presidential election has become and given that my choice come election day has become less clear now that the primaries are over and the major parties have chosen their candidates, the initial reasons I had for challenging the notion that Hillary Clinton should be an acceptable candidate for liberals no longer exist. I do not plan on doing so.

    I understand that my behavior in my comments over the past two years might have seemed like I was a troll who was posting comments I didn’t believe specifically to get a reaction out of people. I’m not familiar enough with the definition of “troll” to know whether or not I qualify as one but I believe what I said. I enjoy reading Mrs. Sorenson’s cartoons because they are intelligent, get their facts right, and effectively challenge what I believe to be true. I do think respectful, intelligent, discussion amongst people who disagree with each other is beneficial in general and necessary to prevent a democracy from becoming an ochlocracy. This is what I’ve tried to do here, in these comments, even though in order to properly advocate for my position, I necessarily needed to be confrontational.

    I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback. Knowing human nature (and knowing that my comments have gotten some likes), I know that there are some people who appreciated what I had to say and some people who wish I would just shut up and go away. I know that there are some people who took what I had to say seriously and some people who believed that I didn’t believe in what I said and instead said it specifically to create anger. I don’t know the overall attitude of people who read these comments with regards to my comments.

    If people want to know the perspective of why liberals should not vote for Hillary Clinton in this election then I can still provide it if people ask me to but the reason would specifically be to provide an alternative perspective not necessarily because I would believe in that perspective. I would still do so in the same manner (trying to balance rhetorical effectiveness and respect for other people and their viewpoints) I was doing.

    I could start in response to this cartoon about how regardless of who wins this election, the foreign policy of the USA will continue to put my life in danger by unintentionally supporting such massacres (if we are trying to kill some people, they will likely try to kill us instead/back/in retaliation). While I do believe that, I don’t know how a liberal should act in this election and I have the mind cease my advocacy for a course of action for such a liberal. If I am asked to continue to provide an alternative perspective then I will continue to do so, if I am asked to shut up and go away then I will do so on this issue, and if I am not asked anything then I will be quit just the same.

  • OhSoRight

    “We know the shooter was virulently homophobic,”

    By homophobic, you mean gay, correct?

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.