Political Cartoon Analysis: Where's the Drain - Free Paper Sample

Published: 2023-10-28
Political Cartoon Analysis: Where's the Drain - Free Paper Sample
Essay type:  Analytical essays
Categories:  Politics United States Movie Donald Trump
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 650 words
6 min read


Where’s the Drain? Is the name for a political cartoon by Dana Summers in the Baltimore Sun. The cartoon features a canoe floating on crocodile-infested waters. There is a male human figure inside the canoe that seems to be looking for something inside the water. The words represent his thoughts, are “there’s a drain down there somewhere” (Summers). There are also three crocodiles in the water with the word’s “lobbyists,” “special interests,” and “bureaucrats” for each crocodile. Dana Summers uses text, metaphor, and irony to show incompetency.

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Textual characters are one of the physical elements that helps explain the cartoon’s message. Most readers are aware that crocodiles are dangerous creatures, but it would be hard for them to understand what they represent without the textual characters. The textual character enables the reader to understand that the crocodiles represent special interests, lobbyists, and bureaucrats. Also, the textual characters help with the understanding of what the main character is thinking. The textual elements bring out the incompetency because the cartoon character is looking for a swamp’s drain inside the water as if it operates under the same mechanism as a sink or a bathtub. A more practical approach would be to dig a trench that guides the water somewhere else, or to pump out the water.

The crocodile-infested water in the cartoon represents a swamp, which is a metaphor for Washington’s corridors of power. It is reminiscent of Trump’s campaign rhetoric, “it is time to drain the swamp” (CBS News). Swamps are naturally dangerous places that are uninhabitable for humans. By pledging to “drain the swamp,” Trump was promising to root out corruption and other malpractices that seek to benefit a few influential individuals at the expense of many. The literal meaning of draining the swamp is to remove water from a marshy area. Removing water would eliminate mosquitoes, alligators, snakes, and other creatures that depend on the water for survival. Hence when used in the context of politics, draining the swamp would eliminate bureaucrats, special interests, and lobbyists.

Hidden Irony

Finally, there is irony in the way the character expects to drain the water while sitting in his boat. According to the cartoon character, the drain is somewhere at the bottom of the swamp. That means access to it requires one to get into the water and swim with the crocodiles. The irony is, he is not only looking for the drain in the wrong place, but he is also afraid to get his body wet. The irony of the situation shows how incompetent the character is because despite having the right intentions, he is blind to the reality of the situation. He lacks a proper plan on how to drain the water and get rid of the crocodiles in the water.


The use of physical elements such as text and figurative elements of metaphor and irony have helped communicate the cartoon’s message of incompetency. The textual characters help the reader in knowing the thoughts inside the main character’s head, as well as what physical characters such as crocodiles represent. The draining of the swamp is a metaphor for the elimination of corruption and power lobbying in political institutions. The irony of the situation is that the character expects to drain the water without getting his hands dirty. Those are some of the techniques that the cartoonist used to communicate her message.

Works Cited

CBS News. “Donald Trump says it is time to “drain the swamp” in D.C.” YouTube, uploaded by CBS News, 21 October 2016,

Summers, Dana. Where’s the Drain? 2017. The Baltimore Sun,

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