Steve Brodner on Trump

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday July 20, 2016

Satirical artist and commentator Steve Brodner, whose beat is politics, has probably heard or read every statement by the many candidates in this presidential election. This week he gives the lowdown on the Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.

Q: Last week, columnist and former speechwriter Michael A. Cohen said that Trump’s speeches are peppered with statements that reflect ideas that exist only in his head. Do you think that he has stitched together some kind of a “message” for the convention, one that will allow him to stay “on message” for the duration of the race? 

A: Trump's great skill, it seems to me, is his ability to sell positions that he really doesn't have or care about, for the moment, for the sake of competitive advantage. So any position he takes can be easily discarded when it has done its job, which is to make a sale. I think that this is the fundamental key into Trump's rhetoric, that there isn't any key at all. He has no philosophy other than increasing his power, influence, money and the level of attention he gathers. Opponents have made the mistake this year in assuming that he cares about and can be held to any of his positions.

Q: At the beginning of the campaign, many people thought that Trump was not interested in being President of the United States—that he was in it just for the notoriety. Do you think he rose to the top because the press and the public did not take him seriously enough?

A: In part. Mostly, though, because he has talent. And that talent is to hone in on what his audience wants to be sold at any given moment. And also how to defeat an opponent: really zero in on a vulnerability. He destroyed all his rivals and also ruined them for a future in politics!

 Q: Do you think the Republican Party’s choice of an open carry state for the RNC has anything to do the prospect of attracting as many NRA supporters as possible to the convention?

A: As of this writing the jury is out on the affects of open carry at the convention. I think the choice of Cleveland was solely based on Ohio being an important battleground state. The GOP has a hard time putting a winning strategy together without Ohio.

Q: Do you have any advice for people who are genuinely upset by the prospect of Trump winning the election?

A: Be afraid, be a little afraid! There is what pundits call the Democratic lock. The way states run now, a Democratic candidate starts with about 240 electoral votes. Hillary Clinton will need to get only 30 more (to get to 270). She has many ways to do this. Trump has very few. In order to do this, though, he will need to take Ohio and Florida away from her. This, after he has insulted every minority in the country. No Republican can win with less than 40% of the Hispanic vote here. Trump is now pulling about 12%. Add women, Blacks, Asians, college educated whites, business Republicans etc. He will make a lot of noise but Hillary would need to collapse to make him president. And Hillary doesn't collapse.

You can follow Steve's campaign coverage on Village Voice

After getting his BFA at  Cooper Union in 1976 Steve Brodner became editorial cartoonist at The Hudson Dispatch, in Union City, New Jersey. In 1977 Steven Heller, protean art director of The New York Times Book Review, began tapping him for illustration assignments. Eventually Brodner realized he could survive nicely just doing this without ever having a real job. This is called Freelance Illustration. To this day he is still confused about how this works. [More]