Cartooning the Trump Years: The View from Opposing Political Planets – By Matt Wuerker (Politico) / January 18 2021
Corrupt villain or mistreated hero? Liberal and conservative Americans saw two very different Trumps—and so did the nation’s cartoonists.
You may find yourself staring at images of mobs storming the United States Capitol. And you may find yourself watching fellow citizens assault law enforcement officers in the name of a baseless conspiracy, and you may find yourself looking at those beautiful halls of our democracy getting trashed. And you may ask yourself, how did we get here?
The past four fractious years have split us in two. Americans now live on two completely different political planets, with two seemingly irreconcilable points of view. If you’re a Trump supporter, you saw his presidency as four awesome years of owning the libs, beating back the Deep State and watching the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln make America great again. If you’re not, you just lived through four hellacious years of watching norms, laws, the country’s standing in the world—even the foundations of democracy itself—be devastated by an amoral narcissist who didn’t care how much damage he left in his wake.
Editing POLITICO’s Cartoon Carousel, a weekly compilation of cartoons from across the political spectrum, I’ve seen the hardening of these divides in real time. As liberal cartoonists sketched Trump’s presidency as a mounting series of horrors, their counterparts on the right turned the celebrity businessman into a kind of crusading folk hero. The differences were never more extreme than they were last Wednesday, as a band of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying the election results.
Cartoons usually have a special way of enraging partisans, but they can also do the opposite—offer an opportunity to consider what our estranged, but still fellow, Americans are thinking and feeling. Leaving aside the question of what’s actually based in reality, we’ve created a visual timeline of these tumultuous years that hopefully offers a window into these two opposing views—the red planet versus the blue planet—and just how far apart they are.