Kid President: The Aesthetics of Childhood in Political Cartoons
Keywords:children, childhoods, political cartoons, visual discourse, aesthetics, Donald Trump, USA, borders
Since the 2016 US presidential election, a number of political cartoons have been produced that depict Donald Trump as an infant or toddler. He is drawn in diapers and with any number of objects we associate with young children, as well as engaging in behaviours such as crying, whining, and melting down. As a genre, the political cartoon offers complex readings, yet this particular phenomenon, in its repeated renderings, seems to signal just as much, if not more, animosity toward children than toward Trump. The question is, who is the real object of critique in these visual displays? What are the assumptions that cartoonists have about children, and how is the child deployed in and through these images? In this work, we examined thirty political cartoons depicting Trump as an infant or toddler, along with related artifacts, dating from 2015 to 2018. We discuss the ways that the cartoonists rely on stereotyped affects and behaviours of childhood to express purportedly progressive notions of equity. The effect of this growing archive of images, however, may betray those objectives, instead enacting power over the figure of the child.