We’re back. Welcome to the latest installment of Under the Cover.
Since last time, there are winners in the Republican and Democratic primaries for President, Senate Democrats wrapped up a 15-hour long filibuster on gun control, and the election is somehow crazier. For our new July/August cover story, Jonathan Rauch examines how American politics got to this point in the first place and how/if we can fix it.
Politics are inherently complicated and it’s tough to visualize the political system without resorting to symbols. Unfortunately for me, this is our second politics cover in less than a year, so I couldn’t use the trusty Elephant and Donkey symbols again.
I decided this time to use another symbol of America and democracy: Uncle Sam.
Uncle Sam has shown up several times in The Atlantic’s cover history. The cover below on the left, illustrated by the legend Seymour Chwast, is for a 1995 piece about economic barometers. And in the 1997 cover on the right, also by Chwast, we see Uncle Sam in some sort of historical Conga line:
This next cover is from 2001. Uncle Sam is pulling double duty as a symbol of the might of “The Greatest Generation” as well as commemorating the Doonesbury comic strip at 40:
For our new July/August cover, the idea for the image started with the cover-line: “How American Politics Went Insane.” Then I started thinking about Jodeci … that’s right, Jodeci. They had a song called “Feenin’” in 1993, and the images of the band members in a padded cell are seared into my memory:
So, how about Uncle Sam in a padded room wearing a straight-jacket?!