A common question these days is, "How did it come to this? How did we end up with these presidential candidates?" The simplest answer is, "It's our fault." Would a curious, engaged, and active electorate have generated the current tickets? Probably not.
I think there is a general sense that we could have done better.
But maybe we shouldn't beat ourselves up too much. This self-governance, it's a hopelessly human activity with all its brokenness and potential for failure. We are bound to screw up sometimes. What's the lyric from that Gin Blossom's song, "If you don't expect too much from me, you might not be let down"?
The thing is, we are the United States of America. We do need to expect more. Our country was founded on the very concept of expecting more from its citizens. And for years we have been a beacon of that expectation to the world, certainly not perfect, but at least positive, hopeful.
Alas, we may have turned a corner. Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Kenyan editorial cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa speak at a conference. Mwampembwa goes by the pen name Gado, and he certainly knows a thing or two about having to deal with "big men" political leaders. As part of a panel discussion, he had this insight while discussing some of his cartoons featuring Donald Trump:
"The African people are watching the American election with amusement. They just cannot believe what is happening. Africans have always been lectured that 'you have these dictators.' And now we are laughing because you are going to get one of your own. And we can't wait because we want to hear what you will say to us."
Yeah, we can definitely do better.
John Auchter is an editorial cartoonist. Views expressed in his cartoons are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.