In normal times, this cartoon might feel a bit like a cheap shot, but in today’s America, it’s unfortunately more like an accurate description. Incredible numbers of people have come to believe utter falsehoods, helped along by a roster of moneyed villains. Raising the accuracy and intelligence of our various media would certainly help, but we also need to solve the gullibility problem. Don’t ask me how we’re going to do this.
As one reader reminded me today, the Texas GOP actually opposed teaching critical thinking skills in its 2012 platform. You can’t make this stuff up!
There’s been a flood of upsetting news stories lately, but — perhaps partly because of this — I felt like doing something more fun for a change. I recently purchased a Trucker Hat “Lite” at a thrift store after sifting through a massive bin of ball caps (rejecting ones with camouflage or golf clubs), which got me thinking about the powerful symbolism of headwear. Of course everything is political, even hats, so we end up back at Trump.
Doing a little research for this cartoon, I found out that the standard ballcap is actually referred to as a “Dad hat” in industry parlance. I did not know this.
One of the biggest intellectual scams perpetrated by the right is the idea that supporting an inclusive, pluralistic vision of America somehow makes one an “elite.” As a public school-educated daughter of teachers who grew up in a rural area, I especially resent hearing this from blue-blood multimillionaire frat boy types like Tucker Carlson. I mean, check out the Orwellian absurdity of this screenshot (from Media Matters):
Unfortunately, many progressives have internalized the “elite” label which is foundational to conservatives’ victimization narrative. Think of the language they’ve popularized over the years. There’s David Brooks’ “Bobos in Paradise,” which mocked “bourgeois bohemians.” There’s the vapid insult “limousine liberal.” Both terms imply a kind of hypocrisy; yet I would argue that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with progressives having money so long as they put that money towards addressing inequality and vote accordingly. Meanwhile, no such term exists to describe these wealthy posers on the right who fight policies that might actually help ordinary workers at every step.
I’m a day late posting this here, as I was in Portland, OR over the weekend for my cartoonist pal Matt Bors’ wedding. This week’s comic addresses a longstanding trope of the right, that “liberals” wallow in a “victim mentality” that makes them weak and whiny, unlike conservatives, who obviously never complain about anything. Of course, we have seen right-wing assertions of of victimhood on full display recently, from the White House Correspondents Dinner controversy to the strangely sympathetic tone some have taken towards so-called “incels” in the wake of the Toronto massacre. Indeed, one might say contemporary American conservativism has become an unparalleled culture of grievance.
I find Kanye’s use of the term “dragon energy” endlessly fascinating. I think it gets at the heart of the Trump phenomenon more than a billion words spilled by all the nation’s pundits. Many have remarked on Trump’s misogyny and macho posturing, but the symbolism goes deeper than that. It’s masculinity as a mystical power, a spiritual essence that imbues the entire country, reclaiming it from the “feminizing” forces of “political correctness” and perceived weakness of the Obama administration. The entire alt-right movement has its roots in an anti-feminist backlash. Of course, there’s a lot more going on here with regard to race, and the idea of Trump — a man disinclined to walk very far without a golf cart — as a source of strength is ridiculous on its face.
In case you’re curious, the quote in the second panel comes from this NYT article.