Imagine, for just a second, that our president is a kind and decent man.
Stay with us. Because this is the science fiction idea behind Decent Don, a Portland-produced web comic that portrays our commander in chief as the type of person who wipes the peanut butter off the knife before sticking it in the jelly jar, sends handwritten Mother’s Day notes, and refills the Brita dispenser after taking the last glass. Small kindnesses, all—but in a year of giant injustices, they make us pine for a parallel world.
“I was pretty burnt out on all the negativity coming through social media,” says local bassist turned “doodler” JP Downer. “I would see these pictures of Trump smiling these self-important, smug smiles. And I thought, ‘What if those faces were in the context of him feeling good about himself because he actually did something good?’”
So right after January’s inauguration drew its record-breaking crowds (in still another alternative reality), Downer doodled a three-panel comic of Decent Don letting a woman cut in front of him at the grocery checkout—instantly transforming a caustic smirk into a gracious beam. A meme, of sorts, was born.
“I wanted to be able to have some angle to comment on it, but I didn’t think more negativity was working,” says Downer, who insists that he’s not doing anything inflammatory. “So, let’s pull it all the way back and go back the other way. Let’s use positive energy for change.”
Downer has since produced 51 of these comics (so far), amassing a small but enthusiastic following on Facebook and Twitter. His Don has taken on a voice and a personality of his own on social media: a dorky, matter-of-fact man, prone to laughing at his own bad puns and telling people to have a great day.
“You know how older people sign their name at the end of a post?” says Downer. “He does that.”