I faced a dilemma last week when I was a guest speaker at the Yakima Rotary Club. Having been asked to talk about my job as a political cartoonist, I wondered how I could do that without touching on the hottest topic for practitioners of my jugular art, Donald Trump and his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. If I said what I really believe, how could I not end up offending the many Trump-supporting Rotary members who surely would be in the audience?
If I avoided the subject for the sake of politeness, though, I would be abdicating my responsibility to offer an unflinching assessment of our political leaders, and that is the core of my job. As I told the Rotarians, I see political cartoons not merely as art, not merely as opinion journalism but as a patriotic act. How could I not indicate to them, as I showed cartoons I had drawn of Trump, that I am convinced he is the biggest con man and traitor to American democracy that this country has ever seen?
Luckily, I was helped by the current Jan. 6 committee hearings. Those sessions have laid out the case against Trump in dramatic fashion by using testimony from Republicans who were in his inner circle. Instead of citing journalists or MSNBC commentators or Democrats or other people who could be easily dismissed by Trump loyalists, I was able to tick off the damning facts revealed by Trump allies who were with him on Election Day and in the subsequent weeks during which the former president concocted the Big Lie about voting fraud that inspired the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The facts are these: Trump’s campaign manager told the president he had definitely lost. White House lawyers told him there was no fraud. His attorney general told him wild theories about election rigging were utter nonsense. The lawyer who defended Trump in his impeachment trial warned that efforts to upend the election result were criminal acts. Judges — including many appointed by Trump — tossed out more than 60 challenges to the election result for lack of evidence. And, yet, Trump persisted in his election lies and dragged the Republican Party with him into that pit of mendacity.
That brief listing of the facts was all I needed to say to the Rotarians on the subject. I followed up with a few cartoons that have gotten me heat from ultra-progressives in liberal Seattle, just to show I get criticism from all sides. Nobody threw a tomato or a dinner roll at me, and civility was maintained. I was happy to get a chance to speak to a group on the more conservative side of the state. As Americans, we need to start bridging the political divide that is making our politics so toxic. But, as we try to find common ground, we cannot shy away from hard facts about Trump’s betrayal. I am grateful that the Jan. 6 committee is providing those hard facts and that they are coming from the mouths of Trump loyalists who stuck with the man until his treachery became too much, even for them.
See more of David Horsey’s cartoons at: st.news/davidhorsey
View other syndicated cartoonists at: st.news/cartoons