The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for July, 2024

Lowering the Temperature

I thought it was time for another appearance of the Flaming Conservative. But I need to start calling him something else because the word “conservative” no longer fits. Don’t call this movement authoritarian, though! Shortly after the assassination attempt, before evidence about the shooter’s identity was available, soon-to-be-named Vice Presidential candidate JD Vance stated, “The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs. That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.” This is one of the most preposterous and Orwellian arguments I have ever heard in my entire career as a political cartoonist. When you consider the January 6 insurrection and the long list of violent and threatening rhetoric from Trump and other Republican officials — too many to enumerate here — while Democratic leaders have not engaged in such tactics, blaming the Biden campaign is a ridiculous act of gaslighting.

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Podcast interview

I recently did a lengthy interview with Geoff Grogan’s Blockhead podcast, which focuses on comics creators. We talked about politics a lot! The interview was conducted on the weekend after the presidential debate and Supreme Court’s Chevron ruling. Apple podcast link is here.

A Second Revolution?

The day after the Supreme Court’s ghastly immunity ruling, Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts rejoiced in an interview on the pro-insurrectionist War Room podcast. (Host Steve Bannon was absent due to being sent to prison for defying a Congressional subpoena related to January 6.) “We ought to be really encouraged by what happened yesterday,” Roberts enthused. He proceeded to explain why a chief executive unfettered by pesky laws is great for the republic, then slid into the chilling quote about the maybe-bloodless second Revolution. The Heritage Foundation is the source of Project 2025, the radical blueprint for Trump’s second term. 

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Supreme Debacle

The Supreme Court ruling overturning the Chevron doctrine was largely overlooked in the wake of the debate, but possibly even more apocalyptic. In short, the Republican majority gutted the precedent that gave deference to scientists and other experts at setting regulations for pollution, safety, worker rights — i.e., basic functions of government. Everything now has to go through the courts, which are jam-packed with Trump appointees and other Federalist Society-backed corporate extremists. This Slate article provides a good overview. To quote Justice Kagan, who I attempted to draw in the first panel: “the majority today gives itself exclusive power over every open issue—no matter how expertise-driven or policy-laden—involving the meaning of regulatory law. As if it did not have enough on its plate, the majority turns itself into the country’s administrative czar.”

We all breathe air and eat food, and I assume many of the justices have children that they don’t want poisoned. No one escapes the impact of these rulings. But it’s their reality now and we’re just living in it. 

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A Smaller Tent

In my experience, Dems do better when they at least acknowledge the concerns of different factions of the Big Tent. In 2004, during the height of Iraq war jingoism, they were at their milquetoast Republican-lite worst — and Kerry lost to Bush. This era was was formational to me as a cartoonist; it was a time when many were galvanized to build a more progressive party that reflected its own constituents. My growing concern with the Democratic party this election season isn’t coming from a place of “purity” per se, but fears that they are underestimating the risk of alienating voters they need to win — not fringe zealots, but people who care about the basic values of human rights, democracy, inclusivity, and intellectual honesty. Republican-lite pandering makes the party less able to deal with the pressing issues of our time: the Supreme Court, big money in politics, authoritarianism, and other crises that require the courage to speak frankly. Cede too much ground and you’ve lost moral clarity and moral authority.

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Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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