This week we had two covers: one on Donald Trump and one on Britain’s National Health Service. In most of the world we argued that Mr Trump is far likelier than many people realise to win America’s presidency again. Polls for the primaries in 2024 are unreliable, but he has such a huge lead over Ron DeSantis and other Republican rivals that it is hard to see him losing. And though it is more likely than not that Joe Biden would beat him in the general election, betting markets give Mr Trump a one-in-three chance of swaggering back into the White House.
Our designers made some sketches to illustrate a Trump comeback. One idea was to show him as a Jack-in-the-box, bouncing out and surprising everyone. Another was to depict him as a rocket man, launching his campaign with fire and fury.
Mindful of his knack for stirring up a crowd, we played with the idea of a microphone with Trumpy hair instead of a muffler. We thought of depicting Mr DeSantis, Florida’s governor, who announced his candidacy this week. The names “Ronald” and “Donald” suggested a certain fast-food brand that Mr Trump is known to adore. But although Mr DeSantis is in the news, we are not convinced he will pose much of a challenge, so we dropped him.
The Economist does not welcome the prospect of a second Trump term. However, we try to be fair. One sketch depicted the former president as a deranged axe murderer (a riff on Stanley Kubrick’s film “The Shining”), but we felt it was over the top. So, in a more subtle way, was a dark red photograph; the effect suggested a blood-spattered dictator rather than an erratic populist.
We preferred softer images. In the end we went with a grimly humorous headline, suggesting that Mr Trump will be scaring American moderates and liberals, not to mention the rest of the world, for some time to come.
Leader: Donald Trump is very likely to be the Republican nominee
Briefing: Ron DeSantis has little chance of beating Donald Trump
United States: DeSantis is a truer believer, if a lesser politician, than Trump
In Britain our cover story asked how to fix the NHS. The obvious metaphors to use were medical ones. We thought of defibrillator pads and drugs, but these were not quite right. The NHS needs thoughtful reform, not shock therapy. And it will be neither as simple nor as cheap as popping a packet of pills.
We experimented with having the “NHS” logo itself receiving medical treatment. We put it on a drip; and we attached monitors and a cannula to it. We liked the simplicity and directness of these images, but worried that they were too bland. They would not look out of place on a government report.
Another idea was to use a photograph. In one image we had Aneurin Bevan, one of the NHS’s original architects, shedding a tear. In another we had a nurse in London, looking exhausted after a 13-hour shift, snapped by Johannah Churchill, a nurse who is also a photographer.
Asked to inject a dose of wit, our designers let their imagination run wild. One picture started with an injured teddy bear, which was too cloying. Then the designer added a gun, to evoke the notion of a health service under threat. But the threat it faces is not a deliberate one, as the gun implied; it is that an ageing population requires more and better-managed treatment. A picture of an ambulance lying supine and receiving an intravenous infusion was funnier. Laughter may not really be the best medicine, but it does no harm.