Symbols Drained of Meaning


“Sad Sam” was the working title of this drawing, back when first sketched in the summer of ’12. It was to be a reference to the national political conventions. I never inked and colored it because other more personal stuff needed being made manifest before the much less relevant political sort did.

In ‘murica, red white and blue are thought of as symbols of all that’s great about living there, so I thought it paradoxical to mix those up with other political symbols, those which show us that it’s not. So here the Ds as donkeys and the Rs as elephants binge and toast as they drain yet another symbol of all such meaning.

To keep the following comments simple and brief, I’ll assume that politicians have no moral positions strongly held enough to take a stand against the corporate financiers who own them or the fringe/one-issue constituencies who rule their gerrymandered districts.

It’s not that I don’t think politics is important; it’s that I don’t think my opinion in it –or of it– is. Yes, I vote, but I feel that since I don’t contribute to political campaign funds, I really don’t “make my voice heard.” They say the bill of rights protects freedom of speech. But given that the law of the land is that money is speech and corporations are speakers, voting is just an unheard whisper.

We all know that the intended consequence of gerrymandering is to allow politicians to maintain their incumbency by convoluting their districts so that votes for non-incumbents in each are a minority. That way each election can be won by the incumbent simply by pressing a few hot buttons. The balance of power is not left and right but up and down.

Elections are winner-take-all contests, but legislating is played in a marketplace where one gives to get. To be a legislator at all one must first be successful in an election, and the skill sets are not identical or even complimentary. Back in the day it seemed that politicians — the good ones anyway– could do both in turn. Now that doesn’t seem to be the case; running for reelection have become a full time job and the winner-take-all attitude it requires seems to be a permanent mind set. Witness the recent government shut done.

So ends a rare venture into political cartooning. But it is not the first, in the ‘60s when I was an idealistic youth; I drew weekly anti-establishmentarianist cartoons for the student newspaper. I believed as Lincoln said –to congress no less– “We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” Now, in my second childhood and wholly disenthralled, the only things I try to save is files and leftovers.