We often hear about bad apples these days. Politicians love using the term to get their opinions and ideas across to a large audience. Business owners use it in marketing to boost sales or discredit competition. Journalists use it in their editorials to gauge public opinion and place it, in a way, that everyone can see it. These ideas bring discussion, debate or interest in a topic and it allows the viewer to think about what choices they might have in order to make decisions. The method used by journalists is the center of the political cartoon because they can reach the public, politicians and business owners. In the past, the other groups could only directly reach people that were interested in a particular topic.
In the US, we grow up hearing the phrase, “One rotten apple will spoil the whole bunch.” It means that if you have a bowl of fruit out on a counter or table for a week or so the fruit starts to decay from the center outward. This is because the fruit is smothered by the others and it does not get enough oxygen. Once that happens it begins to decompose and the decomposition spreads to other apples. Americans use the term to say that if a group of folks has an idea and a particular goal in mind and one person in the group goes against that idea, the goal will not be met. That one person has the power to influence the others to change their mind and not pursue that goal anymore. Today politicians and news media are tossing the term around to let voters know that there are problems within political parties. This is why there is so much confusion in Washington and why Congress can not agree with the president on issues. There is really nothing wrong with this. It has been gong on since the country was founded. There will always be one person in a group with a doubt or an idea or even a personal agenda that differs from the rest of the group whether they even know about it or not.
Here are some examples of the political cartoons used to start talk about the bad apple idea.
Political cartoons are not as popular as they used to be and that is probably due to the use of mass electronic media today. Before there were electronic media, the political cartoon was the way everyone could be exposed to the same idea and it was useful to people and their daily lives.
For further interest in this topic see, The Art of Polemics. They publish a daily cartoon as well as other historical topics. Next time you see a political cartoon, think about the way that cartoon is being used to reach a wide audience and what that cartoon may be saying about what society as a whole is feeling about a certain topic.