Cartoon: The Party of Small Government

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This cartoon is drawn by Becky Hawkins.

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Each month brings new horrifying news of GOP-controlled state governments banning books and health care they don’t like. And we can (and should) argue against them on these issues, but at the same time, I’m not convinced the arguments matter. The GOP does these things because they have the power to, not because they have persuasive arguments.

For those of us outside of red states, it’s hard to know how to respond. I’m writing this on April 30, 2023. Tomorrow, the Oregon House of Representatives has scheduled “a Special Order of Business” for HB2002, a bill to expand and protect both reproductive and gender-affirming health care, for Oregonians and for people who come to Oregon. As far as I can tell, HB2002 is on track to become law.

Is that enough? No. But it’ll help some people, at least. “Maybe it’ll help some people at least” is so unsatisfying but some days it seems like all we’ve got.

In USA Today, Marc Ramirez wrote:

…an onslaught of legislation and rhetoric targeting transgender youth in recent years has prompted parents of transgender kids to ponder similar choices. Advocates say some have uprooted lives in states like Texas, Arizona, Alabama and Arkansas to find refuge in states they feel offer safer climates.

More than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in 2022, according to Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Most aim to restrict the rights of trans people, largely trans youths’ abilities to participate in sports or receive gender-affirming care.

“This is a crisis,” said Kim Shappley, another former Texas resident parent who left the state with her transgender child this summer. “We have political refugees in the U.S., leaving with whatever they can fit in their car.”

Trans rights – and the ability for my trans friends to live their lives fairly openly and get the care they need – have advanced so much in my lifetime. I guess backlash was always inevitable, but that doesn’t mitigate the awfulness.

Abortion rights, of course, have been on the verge for decades. Now that Roe has been overturned, it’s like the sword of Damocles we’ve been waiting for has finally fallen. And when it fell it severed the country in two. The divide between blue and red states isn’t anything new, of course, but it seems that more and more very basic rights – the rights to control your own body – are depending on what state people happen to live in.

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When I wrote this cartoon, I remember being certain that it absolutely needed to be laid out as a stack of vertical panels, rather than our usual two-by-two grid.

I wish I had written down why, because now I don’t have the faintest idea why I thought that. Doing it this way really made it a pain to post on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

I wasn’t originally thinking of this as a Becky strip, but I’m glad I offered it to her. As well as being a good use of her facility for drawing different environments, there’s humor in the way she laid out the strip that I just love. The gratuitous manhandling of doctors in panels one and three especially cracks me up.

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This cartoon has four panels. Each of the panels shows the same central character, a large white man – I’ll call him Big Man – with neatly combed brown hair, wearing a business suit with a red tie. When I say he’s “large,” I don’t mean he’s fat; I mean he’s powerfully built and about ten feet tall, looming high over all regular humans around him.


We are in a standard doctor’s examination room, with all the usual accouterments. The large man has placed himself between a family (mom, dad, young teen) and a doctor. He’s pointing sternly at the teen, and facing that way, while his other hand is encompassing the doctor’s face as he pushes her back. The family looks horrified.

BIG MAN: No “gender affirming” care for YOU!


We are in a school library; there are bookshelves and green beanbag chairs and a mural of green trees and sunshine covering one wall. A librarian sits at a desk, apparently interrupted in handing a book to a child. The Big Man, smugly smirking, is plucking the book away in his enormous hand, even as the child fruitlessly tries to grab it.

BIG MAN: Reading books? Not on MY watch!


We’re now in the waiting room of a hospital or a large clinic. There’s uncomfortable looking plastic chairs, generic art on the walls, a receptionist at a desk, and a rope indicating where people can wait in line. In front of all that, Big Man has physically picked up a doctor by the scruff of his white doctor’s jacket, and is holding the doctor away from a teenage girl. With his other hand, he’s sticking his pointer finger into the girl’s face, as he talks to her with some anger.

BIG MAN: And I say you ARE going to have a baby!


The Big Man is sitting in a room, with big patriotic red-white-and-blue banners hanging on the wall behind him. He’s sitting on a pile of people; if we look closely, we can see that these are all the people he’s been abusing in panels one through three. He’s smiling as he speaks, one hand waving grandly.

BIG MAN: We are so PROUD to be the party of SMALL GOVERNMENT!

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This cartoon on Patreon

This entry posted in Abortion & reproductive rights, Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Homophobic zaniness/more LGBTQ issues, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues, Transsexual and Transgender related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

3 Responses to Cartoon: The Party of Small Government

  1. 1
    bcb says:

    I know it’s not the main point of the comic, but I feel that any talk about Repubublicans banning “gender-affirming” health care needs to come with the added context that they (for now at least) do NOT want to ban cis people, including young cis children, from getting the exact same medicine and surgeries to do the exact same thing. It’s just not called “gender-affirming” when given to a cis person.
    Maybe panel one could have a tiny kicker panel of the big man saying something like “but yes to gender-affirming care for the kids we like, and also yes to intersex infant genital mutilation.” But that might not fit.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    bcb – I’ve actually got another cartoon in the works addressing that exact issue!

  3. 3
    bcb says:

    Yay! I am looking forward to seeing it!
    (But not looking forward to the fact that such a comic will probably continue to be relevant for a long time.)