The long, strange trip to the 2016 election: a cartoon view

Thomas McClure is an illustrator and designer whose most recent work is in the production and conceptual illustration for feature films. The opinions expressed in these cartoons are his own.

(CNN)The 2016 election has been a wild ride, a presidential campaign unlike anything the nation has seen before.

It's stunning to consider: We first met the motley cast of Republican and Democratic candidates at the first debate in the summer -- of 2015!
Since then, voters have endured an interminable season of stunts, insults, character assassination, scandals, half-truths and outright lies. Now the field is winnowed to two major party candidates, who will face each other for the third and final debate this week.
An exhausted America is left to contemplate: How did we get here?
    Early this year I started drawing cartoons of the campaign. It was the first time I'd tried political cartooning.
    I draw because I don't write and have limited verbal skills. My background is in art, architecture, advertising, design and movies.
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    Why did I venture into the world of political comment and caricature assassination? Two reasons: my addiction to cable news, and the insanity that passes for political campaigning this season. Not since my innocence was shattered by the Watergate hearings have I been as shocked by the stupidity that reverberates from our media.
    I found myself ranting uncontrollably at my TV and continuing the rant on the phone to my friends. My cats were starting to get nervous and my friends were not returning my calls.
    A bald eagle hunts from my property daily. His morning chattering, which I normally found pleasant, suddenly sounded mournful and strident, reminding me of the plight of our nation.
    This could not go on. My health was suffering. In desperation I took my frustration to the drawing board.
    The therapeutic value of this action was amazing.
    The ideas flowed forth. The source was inexhaustible. Donald Trump was enough to keep me going all by himself. He seemed to personify everything the world dislikes about the United States. He truly is the Ugliest American.
    As I found my voice, I started to send these regurgitations to my friends. The response was encouraging so I posted a few on Facebook. The feedback was amazing. I started hearing from people I had lost touch with years ago.
    Some said they had always thought I had a unique point of view, while others suggested that it was not so much that I marched to a different drummer but that I had no rhythm.
    I'll let you decide. These are my musings. Enjoy.