Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Doonesbury, Politics and the Internet

From an article I wrote for the Queensland University of Technology Post Graduate Blog, the Many Hands Project.

U.S. cartoonist Garry Trudeau has been making waves last week with his daily Doonesbury cartoon strip. Labelled the Honest Voices Reading List he's been linking to blogs, forums and articles from supposedly Conservative voices in the lead up to the U.S. elections.

First up Monday was a Guest Commentary by son of the former Republican President Dwight Eissenhower.

With the current administration’s decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry.

The site received so many hits it crashed.

Tuesday was an email from a Journalist of the conservative Wall Street Journal talking about the situation in Iraq.

I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote.

Wednesday: A former Reagan administrative official makes his statement about Bush.

Thursday: A Republican legislator makes this statement to his constituents before retiring at this election.

Friday: The Lone Star Iconoclast, Bush's home town newpaper, who endorsed him in 2000, writes this editorial.

(Interesting follow up to this article. Click

...several hundred people in or near Crawford, Texas, canceled their subscriptions after the editorial ran. But a few locals started subscriptions, and many other people from throughout the country signed up for mail subscriptions... But as much as the Iconoclast welcomes out-of-town readers... local advertisers prefer local readers who can patronize their businesses.

Actually, many local businesses pulled their advertising either to protest the paper's editorial or because of pressure from other businesses or residents. Different advertisers... including ones congratulating the Iconoclast on its courage... have arrived to pick up the slack, at least temporarily. Some of the new ads are running on the Iconoclast's Web site, which is now being read by thousands of people from all over.

A defeat for small town community or a victory for an international communication medium?)

Saturday: A piece from conservative columnist George Will in the Washington Post.

Then again, Trudeau isn't a stranger to using his strip and the internet for political purposes. Last year he arranged a FlashMob for then Democrat hopeful Howard dean via his strip. (Unfortunately the permalink to the archive has run out.) The event actually took place when supporters picked it up and ran with it.

It's an interesting use of various technologies to get a political point across. Doonesbury is published in approximately 1400 newspapers around the world, not to mention its daily internet subscriptions. If nothing else it's another interesting means of using humour to sell a serious political message.

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