US election, seen through the eyes of cartoonists
Donald Trump or Joe Biden? As the candidates face off in the final debate, caricaturists around the world are taking a look.
What in the world has happened to political debate culture in the US, asks Czech caricaturist Marian Kamensky — along with the rest of the world. The first confrontation on TV between the presidential hopefuls degenerated into a mud fight. Instead of trading arguments, they hurled insults at each other. The second debate on October 22 has stricter rules, including muted mics to stop interruptions.
'Dirty tactics' and difficult terrain
Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, has mentioned "dirty tactics" employed by the current president. The Democrats feel like they're navigating difficult terrain, points out German caricaturist Jens Kricke. Donald Trump, the incumbent, doesn't seem to care. He seems aloof, like a wicked witch in a fairy tale.
This president adores superlatives, claiming "I am the least racist person you've ever seen," "No one has more respect for women than I do," or "I understand more about money than anybody else." And, of course, he believes the US has never had a better president. In this sketch by Martin Erl, Trump praises a photographer as "one of the best in the world."
'Sleepy Joe' and the 'Clown'
Biden is a "sleepy old man" and a "puppet of the radical left," says Trump, who constantly cut off his opponent in the first debate. The latter responded by calling Trump a racist, liar, clown and the "worst president America has ever had." Commentators called it one of the worst debates America has ever seen. Italian artist Christi couldn't agree more.
Many Africans are also astonished at Trump's not very statesmanlike behavior. Cartoonist Damien Glez from Burkina Faso sees the president as a little brat who wants to get his way, no matter the cost. What doesn't fit is made to fit — and with force. One hopes that the president isn't pounding the nuclear button.
The first Japanese Godzilla movie hit the screen in 1954. Wherever the giant lizard goes, it leaves a path of destruction. For cartoon artist Takeshi Kishino to blow the truculent US president up into a gigantic Godzilla monster is revealing. Can Joe Biden stand a chance against this Trumpzilla?
Alpha males stick together
Donald Trump enjoys the company of rulers who aren't terribly concerned about democratic norms: Putin, Erdogan and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Dutch cartoonist Tjeerd Royaards feels that what these politicians have in common is an archetypical rivaling behavior of self-designated alpha-males. Trump calls Joe Biden, on the other hand, a feeble old man – i.e., for him, not a serious opponent.
Mail-in voting? No way!
Trump has said the election will see rampant voter fraud and ballots in wastebaskets with his name on them. For months on end, the US president has attacked mail-in voting and even cut short funds for the postal service. Marian Kamensky encapsulates the situation here. Due to the risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, many Democrats — and not only them — want to cast their ballots by mail.
A helping hand?
In his tirades against the postal service, the president has neglected to mention that he himself has voted by mail on multiple occasions. And even though the FBI certifies that there is no voter fraud in the US, Trump insists that America is threatened by "the most rigged election in history." If needed, he can get help from abroad, says Greek caricaturist Kostas Koufogiorgos.
Trump for president
Trump supporters aren't just found in the US, but also in other countries. In the name of caricaturists around the globe, Mark Lynch of Australia definitely wants the US president to have a second term. "We need our buddy" and "We love the Twitter chief," demonstrators chant — because no other politician offers cartoonists as much raw material as the current occupant of the White House.
Not calling the movers
Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he wants to remain in the White House. Should he lose the election, he has not expressly agreed to a peaceful transition, saying only: "Well, we'll see what happens." He's already called on his base to protest should he not be reelected.
Trump has also questioned the American constitution and its rules prohibiting a third term. Is he thinking of a lifelong presidency? The whole Trump family often turns up at campaign rallies, including the president's youngest son, Barron — which might have triggered German cartoonist Christiane Pfohlmann's vision of the birth of a monarchy in the United States.