The government shutdown of 2018-2019 was the longest of its kind in United States history and the second federal shutdown involving the presidency of Donald Trump. Responsibility of the lengthy furlough of the United States government lies with President Trump who has demanded 5.7 billion dollars in taxpayer money to proceed with the construction of a border wall. The wall, which separates the U.S.-Mexico border, was a central promise of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and despite convincing the citizens of the U.
S. that Mexico would pay for construction, he is now demanding the money of U.S. taxpayers.
In December, Trump said he would be “proud” to take responsibility for shutting down the government in the face of Democratic opposition to funding his pet project. Both of my cartoons represent this event. One, drawn by Walt Handelsman, depicts Trump as a wall holding a paper that states “Government shutdown over wall,” and the other, drawn by Phil Hands, shows a TSA officer struggling to pay her bills and Trump saying she should, “borrow a million dollars from her daddy.
” The cartoons that I chose vary in how they use symbolism to represent the government shutdown and President Trump. However, they are similar in how they use exaggeration and labeling to illustrate their point effectively. Both Handelsman and Hands use their rhetoric as a way to argue that Trump selfishly shut down the government to help his causes.
While both Handelsman and Hands use symbolism in their cartoons, and both depict images of Trump, their illustrations convey different meanings.
Handelsman’s cartoon depicts a brick wall that is in the shape of a man with orange skin and yellow hair; the audience is supposed to know that this is representing Trump. He depicts Trump as a brick wall to represent the border wall that is the reason for the government shutdown and the fact that Trump is behind the creation of this wall. This shows the audience that Trump is the real one behind the government shutdown rather than the Democrats, who he is blaming in the cartoon for being “inflexible”.
On the other hand, Hands uses his depiction of Trump to make him seem spoiled and evil, he shows him with a large, wrinkly body and a rude expression. Hands’ version of Trump contrasts with the other character in his drawing which is a more proportionally correct TSA officer who symbolizes federal workers; this makes her seem more appealing to the audience than Trump. Hands does this in order to make audiences side with the federal workers rather than the president. While both artists chose to represent different parts of Trump and the government shutdown through symbolism, both are arguing that the shutdown is illogical and blaming it on the president.
Both Hands and Handelsman use exaggeration in their pieces in order to both draw attention to Trump, and to make him seem unappealing. In Handlesman’s s artwork, Trump is drawn as a huge character with bright orange skin, a largemouth, and yellow hair. Handelsman chose to exploit these features because they make it obvious to readers who he is trying to represent and they make Trump appear ugly. Likewise, Hands makes the Trump in his drawing very fat with orange skin and yellow hair. This makes him very unlikable aesthetically to the audience so that, in turn, they won’t like Trump. Both artists also exaggerate in their speech: Hands uses a speech bubble to make Trump say, “Quit your whining and borrow a few million dollars from your daddy,” this is not actually something Trump says, but it exaggerates the fact that Trump has a rich father and does not relate to the common American worker.
Handelsman also exaggerates with his text by having a piece of paper that says, “Government shutdown over wall,” this is an exaggeration because the shutdown was not simply due to the wall being built, it was due to funding issues with the wall and even more government problems. Both artists’ exaggerations are there to make Trump seem like a bad guy who does not care about the American people. By using exaggeration in their cartoons, Hands and Handelsman are trying to grab the attention of both democrats and republicans. Democrats will most likely enjoy the depiction of Trump and republicans will not like it, but will be drawn to look more at the cartoon. One rhetorical device that both artists use is words and text bubbles. In the cartoon drawn by Handelsman, he uses a text bubble to have Trump say, “the democrats are being inflexible.” Handelsman uses this as irony because the brick wall man, Trump, is holding a piece of paper that says, “Government shutdown over the wall.” This aspect of his drawing is meant to make his audience see the ridiculousness in Trump’s government shutdown, and in Trump as a person.
Handelsman was appealing to the democrat audience by showing that Trump is being a hypocrite towards them when he says that Democrats are inflexible. Similarly, to Handelsman, Hands uses text bubbles to depict Trump as spoiled. In his cartoon, a panicked-looking TSA woman says, “I can’t pay my bills,” and Trump seems to ignore her problem saying, “Quit your whining and borrow a few million dollars from your daddy.” Hands is exploiting the fact that Trump has a millionaire father and is rich himself, so he does not understand the problem when American citizens, specifically government workers, cannot pay their bills. Hands use this device to prove that Trump does not care about American citizens, he only cares about his needs. While I think that Democrats will agree with the cartoon, Hands is aiming more at the Republican audience so that he can change their minds about President Trump if they support him. Like Handlesman he wants to exploit Trump and his government shutdown as ridiculous so that they do not support him.
An effective political cartoon both explains a certain event and tries to sway your opinion on that event. Both Hands and Handelsman accomplish this in their cartoons about the government shutdown. They both use exaggeration and labeling to argue the ridiculousness of Trump and the shutdown he has constructed. They both use symbolism, however they very in what they choose to represent with it: Handelsman points out that Trump is the reason for the wall, while Hands makes Trump seem selfish and irresponsible. Both cartoons are made to convince people to be against Trump, whether the audience member is a democrat or a republican, I think that both artists will be effective in their goal.