With less than a week to go before the 2010 mid-term elections, Republican Tea Party candidates are riding a wave of voter anger to successfully challenge political incumbents. The Tea Partiers dodge the media and offer sketchy details on what they will do if elected. They struggle to distance themselves from their previous public statements that support the privatization of Social Security, the elimination of Unions and the Federal minimum wage, as well as cutbacks in public education.
The success of their campaigns can be largely attributed to the support of the conservative media and anonymous unlimited corporate donations made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. The Tea Partiers’ small-government, pro-business agenda has become a useful tool of corporations attempting to protect record-breaking profits by opposing the possibility of government initiatives that could reduce or eliminate tax breaks, job outsourcing and predatory business practices. The Citizens United ruling made it legal for corporations to effectively purchase positions in the government by financing candidates willing to follow a corporate agenda. Using divisive, deceptive, fear-based and authoritarian political tactics, they threaten to turn back the clock to an earlier time like the late 1800s, when unfettered capitalism played a similar role in government elections.
In the 1890s, Homer Davenport was one of the most famous (and highly paid) political cartoonists in America. He covered the presidential elections of 1896 and 1900 for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal.
A collection of his work titled The Dollar or the Man? The Issue of To Day was published in 1900. It includes 54 large reproductions of cartoons that originally appeared in the Journal . Their subject matter was government corruption and the abuse of corporate power.
Davenport created the Trust Figure to represent the monopolistic corporations of his time. The coal trust, sugar trust and meat trust were all depicted as bearded, hulking brutes that clubbed their competition and critics into submission.
During the 1896 election, Davenport connected the Trust figures to Mark Hanna, a wealthy Ohio industrialist and shipping magnate who became chairman of the National Republican Committee. Davenport caricatured Hanna in a suit covered with dollar signs as a reference to the formidable fundraising skills that had earned Hanna the nickname, "Dollar Mark."
As the campaign manager for Presidential candidate William McKinley, Hanna systemized fundraising from big business. He visited the leaders of large corporations and major banks who feared the populist rhetoric or McKinley’s opponent: William Jennings Bryan. Bryan represented the Populist Party which advocated public ownership of the railroads, steamship lines and telephone and telegraph systems.Hanna raised a record $3.5 million for the campaign – roughly $3 billion in today’s dollars. The Republicans spent five times more money than the Democrats in the 1896 campaign.
McKinley won the election and a second term in 1900. He protected the interests of big business and did little to alleviate the social problems caused by industrialization. By 1901, McKinley no longer supported the growth of big business. He recognized that trusts and monopolies hurt competition and kept prices high for the consumer. In September of 1901 McKinley was assassinated by a man who reportedly confessed: "I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people – the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime."
David Donihue, GreatCaricatures.com | Tea Party | Trusts
— David Donihue, GreatCaricatures.com