Cartoon by Bill Day of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee and published on 17 August 2009.
One of the fiercest and most important debates in US history is currently taking place over universal healthcare. Other terms being used are socialized medicine and Obamacare. The debate is not simply over healthcare but also over the role of the federal government in the every day lives of Americans. The arguments and debates have become very heated on both sides of the issue. Currently, polls show that a majority of Americans oppose a single-payer program (single-payer meaning only one provider of healthcare : the federal government)
This cartoon by Bill Day is critical of the Republican Party’s opposition to healthcare and accuses conservatives of being unplugged and fear-mongering. Republicans are represented by the picture of an elephant. Democrats would be pictured by the use of a donkey.
1. Unplugged has a couple of meanings. Normally it refers to rock music being played without the use of electrical instruments. However, here the cartoonist is accusing Republicans of being unplugged from reality. The word of course comes from the verb “to plug in.” If during this hot weather you want to cool yourself down with an electrical fan, you first have to plug the fan in! When you disconnected the fan from the electricity, you unplug the fan.
2. The cartoonist is also accusing Republicans of using the debate to spread and promote fear. This is called fear-mongering. This comes from the word monger which means to deal or sell something. We see it in a few words such as a fishmonger or ironmonger who is someone who sells fish or iron. Today, this suffix is often used to describe someone who is spreading or promoting something undesirable. You might come across terms such as war-monger, scandal-monger, rumor-monger, hate-monger, etc.. These terms are both a noun to describe a person or a verb. So, a fear-monger is someone who spreads fear. To create the noun to describe the act, just add the suffix –ing : fear-mongering, war-mongering, scandal-mongering, rumor-mongering, hate-mongering, etc..