Political cartoons are a staple in American culture, and have been used to poke fun at politicians throughout history.
They speak on the pros, cons and facts of politically charged issues, public officials and presidents in comical and animated ways. And with the current elections, they are more prevalent than ever.
In the second presidential debate on Oct. 16, presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” remark went viral, and many “memes” and cartoons were created since.
When the debate’s moderator asked Romney his views about equal pay and job opportunities for women, Romney said, “…we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women,” according to the debate transcript.
During the final debate on Monday night, President Barack Obama refuted Romney’s statement concerning the Navy’s size of defense. Romney said that he believes the U.S. Navy is smaller than it has ever been since 1917.
“…I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works,” Obama said. “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed.”
This sparked more satirical imagery as well.
Penn State Professor John Dillon, senior lecturer from the College of Communications, said he enjoys political cartoons because he feels that they say a lot, “usually in a very clever way.”
Dillon said he believes the cartoons do not really change people’s opinions. Rather, he said they “usually serve as a good point” for shedding light on flaws coming from candidates and presidents alike.
He said these comics behave similarly to the antics and facetious critiques of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
As entertaining and informative as political cartoons are now, they did not always fulfill this purpose. Dillon explained how in the 1800s, cartoons were used to demean the candidate.
Sean McCarthy (junior-psychology) said he feels that a certain bias may show in a cartoonist’s political art. However, he said, “[political cartoons] are all based on some matter of truth.”
But Andrew Katsman (sophomore-mathematics) said, to some point, there’s truth to the cartoons, but they mostly are over exaggerated.
Katsman said the cartoons could potentially sway some people’s opinions on a candidate, depending on the cartoonist’s agenda and the viewer’s bias.
“Two people can look at the same thing and see two different things,” he said.