People ask me all the time, “What are you?” This can be disconcerting. But what they mean is, “As an editorial cartoonist, are you Republican or Democrat? Conservative or Liberal? Socialist or Capitalist? Left Wing or Right Wing?” And so on. My standard reply is that I am not strictly defined by any of those things — I am, if anything, a Contrarian.
It’s basically a smart alecky way of saying that I don’t believe in “sides.” I think it is a mistake for editorial cartoonists to declare any sort of allegiance. I reserve the right to make fun of politicians and parties without restriction. It’s only a matter of time until a person or group of people on any of these so-called sides do something stupid, and I want to keep my options open.
But if I were forced to choose (given an ultimatum between, say, me picking or having to listen to cable TV pundits pick one for me), I would go with “Ford Republican.” Even though I was too young to have voted for Gerald Ford, I very much admire him as a politician, statesman, husband, and person. Ford has always struck me as the ideal for what you would want in a representative and a colleague. You can debate his effectiveness as president, but unlike many who have run for the office since, he was not driven by ideology — he was driven by good citizenship.
This past week the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids was reopened after major renovations. I have been to the museum dozens of times — in 1986 I quite literally bumped into President Ford (the secret service were not amused). I’m looking forward to seeing the changes. (Admittedly, I am pro-museum. Is that a side?)
John Auchter draws cartoons. Lots and lots of them. You can find them at his incredibly popular website auchtoon.com.