House Republicans passed legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Thursday and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). If passed in the Senate, the proposed bill, described as a “moral travesty,” would gut health care coverage for millions, ax Medicaid expansions, and allow for discrimination against individuals with a lengthy list of pre-existing conditions that disproportionately affect women.
“I was surprised,” artist Edel Rodriguez told HuffPost, upon hearing the bill was voted through the House. “Because of what happened a month ago, I figured it wouldn’t pass. But these guys seem to be really intent on ruining lives. They kept at it.”
Rodriguez is a Cuban-born, New York-based artist whose illustrations collapse the details of Trump’s alarming rise to power into stark, urgent graphics that are as easily digestible as they are scathing. The day after AHCA was announced, Rodriguez uploaded two new images to his Facebook, again translating the nation’s angst and horror into imagery that pops and burns.
“It makes it easier,” he explained, “if you have something you want to say right away. And you have an audience right away, too. People are angry, they are looking for something to hold on to, share and talk about. I want to help people realize they are not alone.”
One of Rodriguez’ drawings features an orange, faceless man in white scrubs and a red tie, holding a bloody chainsaw in his hand. The second reduces the same Dr. Trump to the size of a middle finger, which flies in the face of the viewer. Like Rodriguez’ previous work ― which famously includes an image of Trump decapitating the Statue of Liberty ― the images are not subtle.
“I really do feel this president is an abuser,” Rodriguez said. “He abuses people. And when someone is getting abused, I want someone to come in and say, ‘You’re not alone in this, I feel it too.’ There is no reason to go after people with medical issues, people who are poor and need help.”
In an earlier interview with HuffPost, Rodriguez explained how artwork has the rare capability to communicate instantly and intensely, regardless of who the viewer may be. “I want to make images that can reach someone with a Ph.D. and someone who is an immigrant laborer who doesn’t speak English,” he said.
He also expressed hope that the blunt indignation in his imagery would inspire others to shed their hesitation and get angry. “My work encourages people that are a little afraid,” he said. “When they see what I do, and all the stuff that comes at me, they might say, ‘Wow, that guy has some guts. Maybe I should get some, too.’”