Cartoon: Democrats React To A Crisis


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After Justice Kennedy announced his retirement – within an hour – my twitter feed spat forth, again and again, Bernie fans blaming the loss of the Supreme Court on Hillary supporters (for not voting for Bernie to win the primary), and Hillary supporters blaming Bernie supporters (those who hadn’t voted for Hillary in the general). The tone, on both sides often skewed heavily towards “bitter.”

We are a month shy of two years since Bernie conceded the primary. And we lack a time machine, and cannot know what would have been different if Bernie somehow won the primary. It is time to move forward, and it is infinitely frustrating to me that, even in the face of utter Supreme Court disaster, so much of the base seems unable to. I don’t know the right way forward, but I’m positive that keeping our hands about each other throats’ isn’t it.

Saying this is not saying that neither side has a point. Hillary supporters are right to say that much of the treatment of Clinton stinks of misogyny. And Bernie supporters are right that having the primary election seemingly wrapped up by a powerful party figure long before voting has begun is not healthy for the party. These are ongoing problems that need to be addressed going forward; but whatever forward progress can be made by re-litigating the 2016 primary, has already been made. There’s no more fruit in that tree.

Artwise, I’m very pleased with how this cartoon looks. I think the color and design works well. (Although I might come to hate the art given some time.) A one-panel cartoon can have a more unified design than a multi-panel cartoon can, and it’s fun to be able to play with that.

It was also fun to do “the executioner,” another classic gag-cartoon trope. I don’t know if any executioners ever actually went shirtless, but a lot of cartoonists have drawn them that way over the decades, and I’m happy to feel a part of that tradition.

It’s funny how different gag cartooning is from adventure comics. My first instinct was to put the executioner in the foreground, mostly in silhouette, looming over the main figures on the block. It would have been much more dramatic, and completely wrong for a gag cartoon.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This is a one-panel cartoon. Two people in modern clothes are on a platform, kneeling across an executioner’s block, their hands tied behind their backs. They are arguing. Nearby, a huge man with a black hood covering his face, and a huge axe, stands at the ready. In front of the platform, a crowd cheers.

MAN: If you Hillarybots had supported Bernie, we wouldn’t be in this situation!
WOMAN: Ha! If you Bernie Bros had be reasonable, this never would have happened!

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19 Responses to Cartoon: Democrats React To A Crisis

  1. 1
    Gracchus says:

    Very interesting cartoon.

    I see the “Bernie bro” is a white man, and the “Hilary bot” is a (possibly POC?) woman. Are these symbolic of how you see these two groups, or did you just do what seemed to fit visually?

    Also, is the baseball cap of the guy in the crowd a subtle reference to “MAGA”?

  2. 2
    Mandolin says:

    I might like this cartoon if it didn’t come from a HILARYBOT.

  3. 3
    desipis says:

    I’ve heard “Bernie bro” heaps of times, however I don’t recall ever hearing the term “Hilary bot”. Is/was that an actual thing?

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    “Hillarybots” (one word) was indeed an actual thing.

  5. 5
    Mandolin says:

    Neither character can be definitively read as a single ethnicity. They’re both ambiguous in a way I wouldn’t have noticed unless I thought about it; well done, Amp.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks! That’s what I was shooting for.

  7. 7
    Petar says:

    No matter which search engine you use, “Bernie Bros” is about three orders of magnitude more common than “Hillary Bots”. Furthermore, the vast majority of top results for “Hillary Bots” come from the right, while most of those for “Bernie Bros” come from the left.

    The above can explain why I had never heard “Hillary Bot” while I’ve been called a “Bernie Bro” a few times. “Bernie Bros” was used by supposedly respectable and trusted newspapers and agencies, such as the one that edited years old articles to make Sanders look bad, gave front pages to stories spun out of whole cloth to paint “Bernie Bros” as caricatures, published the retractions on page five, etc, etc, etc.

    And of course, in the cartoon, the Bernie Bro is the one going on the attack, with an unreasonable accusation (why would Clinton’s allies support Sanders?) while his target is perfectly rational and almost civil. Somewhat different from the real world, where it was Clinton’s supporters who went on the offensive, and Sander’s who were reactive – disheartened by the exposed machinations, they stayed home on election day. Idiots.

    Ampersand has every right to create a cartoon that reflects his sympathies, although I am surprised that he prefers Clinton to Sanders. From where I’m standing, one appears a passionate but ineffectual idealist, and the other a selfish and ruthless apparatchik. Nevertheless, I volunteered for both, first for Sanders in the California primaries, and then for Clinton in South Carolina (I could not vote at the time) It’s still too early for me to laugh at the cartoon, although I agree with Ampersand’s point.

    Still the cartoon would be more effective if the author’s sympathies were not so obvious – if for example the Bernie Bro had made an accusation that made a teeny bit of sense. As it is, it risks rekindling the resentment of us dastardly bros. But then, when I look at the language in the commentary (“stinks” vs “seemingly”, indeed) I think that Ampersand went as far as he could.

  8. 8
    RonF says:

    … Sander’s [supporters] who were reactive – disheartened by the exposed machinations, they stayed home on election day.

    Can you cite a reference for this, especially for voters in the battleground States that went for Trump? For example, if 2 million HRC voters didn’t show at the polls in California it didn’t make any difference.

  9. 9
    Petar says:

    When I wrote the above, I was just going from anecdotal data, as in personal experience. I have literally dozens of friends who said they would never vote for Clinton. Definitely on the left, politically active, fond of Sanders, but well aware of Clinton’s record in international politics, especially in the Balkans and the Middle East. This is likely due to fact that I mostly socialize with three kinds of people – from Eastern Europe, in academia, or from my wife’s home city, Washington.

    To be honest, I’d have chosen Carrot Top in the primaries before her, but “cut my nose to spite my face” is not my modus operandi, so I would have voted for her in the general election.

    All of that is outside of battleground states, of course. California is even bluer than South Carolina is red.

    But basic searches show a couple of things:
    – 12% of fully validated primary Sanders voters voted for Trump.
    – 68% of fully validated primary Sanders voters did not vote for Clinton or Trump
    – 25% of working class Democrats switched their vote to Republican in 2016
    – Democrats turnout decreased significantly, especially considering how important the election was (although many may not have realized that)
    – young Black voters’ turnout was significantly lower than what was expected after the primaries (although this is so far from hard data that it probably does not belong here)

    So one could make an argument that some many Sanders voters may have stayed home, or just refused to vote for Clinton. It’s certainly what the cartoon is implying, and what many people online claim. I would not stake money on it, but I know Clinton is hated by many on the left, and I know that there are people who let emotions influence then more than I claim to do.

    But to answer your question, no, I cannot find any hard data. Finding such data is extremely hard. It’s easy to poll people after they vote, validate what they say against their voter data… but it’s hard to do something similar for those who stay home.

  10. 10
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Ampersand has every right to create a cartoon that reflects his sympathies, although I am surprised that he prefers Clinton to Sanders.

    Are you referring to a different cartoon? Maybe it’s because I’m a HillaryBot, but I’m not seeing the a pro-hillary slant, here.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    FWIW, I intended both characters to seem unreasonable.

    And although I voted for Clinton in the primary, I went back and forth a lot in the months before my vote. I could have voted for Bernie happily – or, if not happily, at least with a similar amount of unhappiness as I got voting for Hillary.

  12. 12
    Mandolin says:

    I’d listen to this cartoon if it weren’t by a BERNIE BRATWURST.

  13. 13
    Mandolin says:

    (I am too pure to vote for anyone. I filled out my ballot with write-in candidate “Perfection embodied in human flesh” – but then I realized that voting for perfection would be imperfect-ism.)

  14. 14
    Ampersand says:

    Petar, if the dialog of the two characters more closely mirrored each other – specifically, if the woman’s dialog was “Ha! If you Bernie Bros had supported Hillary, this never would have happened!” – would the cartoon work any better for you?

  15. 15
    Petar says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m a HillaryBot, but I’m not seeing the a pro-hillary slant, here.

    Clearly I am too verbose:
    1) HillaryBot is a term coined and mainly used by the right, not by Bernie Bros.
    2) The Bernie Bro is the one starting the name calling in the headsman’s shadow.
    3) His attack is completely nonsensical.
    4) His character is drawn to look a lot more aggressive (compare mouths, tensed neck, etc.)

    Petar, if the dialog of the two characters more closely mirrored each other – specifically, if the woman’s dialog was “Ha! If you Bernie Bros had supported Hillary, this never would have happened!” – would the cartoon work any better for you?

    The dialogue which I would have written:
    – If you Hillary flunkies had not played dirty to sabotage Bernie’s campaign…
    – If you Sanders worshipers had accepted losing maturely, and bothered standing with us…

    And after reading what I wrote, I once again understand why Ampersand creates cartoons for humans, and I write code for computers.

    (I am too pure to vote for anyone. I filled out my ballot with write-in candidate “Perfection embodied in human flesh” – but then I realized that voting for perfection would be imperfect-ism.)

    I am the last person to advocate abstaining from voting for the lesser evil. But if I can understand my Libyan friends who would not vote for Clinton. You probably do not remember, but there was a time where she was taking full credit for the then positively viewed destruction of the Lybian state, and was gloating over the rape and murder of Qaddafi.

    Voting for her over Trump? I would have if I could have. Shaking her hand? No. Shooting a dog tearing into her? I am not sure.

  16. 16
    Petar says:

    Sorry Amp, undefined ate my edit.

    To answer your actual question, yes, mirrored dialog would work better for me, especially if the woman had spoken first. As a starting point, her line would make more sense, because Clinton was the established candidate. Uniting behind a favorite makes some sense – uniting behind the dark horse does not. If he’d been the last to speak, the man’s posture would be more understandable, as well.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Petar, I’m not going to change the speaking order.

    First of all, by your standards, whoever speaks first is the one starting the name calling and therefore the cartoon is slanted in the other character’s favor. So if I accept your analysis, then the cartoon will be unacceptably biased no matter which character speaks first. (But I think you’re mistaken on this point, anyhow.)

    Second of all, changing the speaking order would require either massively redrawing the cartoon so the characters switch positions, or redrawing the word balloons and finding a way to make them so the right-hand character is the first speaker without looking clumsy or cluttered, and that’s harder than non-cartoonists may think. This is far too much work to resolve a misreading that – as far as I can tell – is not commonplace among readers. So changing the speaking order is not an option I’m offering.

    I am willing to change the dialog, and to make the Hillary supporter’s expression angrier. I’m a bit busy, but I’ll look for time to do that. Do you mind if I swipe some ideas from your suggested dialog?

  18. 18
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Petar-

    I kind of see it now. I didn’t take a good look at the art, but yeah, that guy looks more aggressive. and I’ve never actually heard anyone other than a rabid conservative say “hillarybot.”

  19. 19
    Petar says:

    Do you mind if I swipe some ideas from your suggested dialog?

    Not at all. I may be a bit miffed if I feel that the final version is even more biased against Sanders supporters, but readings are, at the end of the day, subjective.