If you are a faithful reader of this column, it should not surprise you to learn that I am appalled by some of the editorial cartoons published here.
I understand that the Daily Republic has a conservative editorial page, and I am a middle-of-the-road kind of guy, so there is bound to be some friction, but some of these cartoons seem to be just blatant lies, pure propaganda pieces.
Editorial cartoons have a long and proud history of speaking truth to power, simplifying complex concepts and fomenting positive change. I grew up appreciating the political cartoons of Herb Block. He worked for The Washington Post, but his cartoons were syndicated throughout the country, including here in Solano County. I have books of collections of his cartoons, and they are like tiny time capsules, artfully explaining bits of our American story. His cartoons took complex national issues and objectively articulated them in an instant.
Herb Block satirized both political parties with equal ferocity, whenever there was a justifiable reason to do so. In those days, a long, long time ago, there were only a few syndicated political cartoonists, just like there were only a few TV networks, and it seemed like the national news anchors and editorial cartoonists understood the gravitas of their work and took their jobs seriously.
Nowadays, there are hundreds TV channels and hundreds of political cartoonists, covering the entire spectrum of human interests, each trying to outdo the other, vying for our attention, ratings and money. Truth has taken a back seat to pandering. Tell your audience what they want to hear, even if you have to create your own reality. These cartoonists do a disservice to their readers by perpetuating myth, blocking true communication and rejecting reasonable compromise.
We are all dumber, having seen them.
This brings us to Michael Ramirez’ political cartoon in the Feb. 10 edition of the Daily Republic. You may remember it: It pictured the Obamacare “death panel” saying “Let’s start with jobs.” This was in response to the Feb. 4 report by the Congressional Budget Office, which estimating that, as a result of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), many Americans would voluntarily reduce the number of hours they work over the next 10 years.
Americans will no longer be forced to stay with an undesirable job or work full time just to get health care benefits and millions will decide to work fewer hours, opening up employment opportunities for job seekers. In addition, the report says: “On balance, CBO estimates that the ACA will boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years . . . .”
“The net increase in demand for goods and services will in turn boost demand for labor . . . .”
Republicans and right-wing media immediately and triumphantly trumpeted, “2.5 million jobs lost because of Obamacare” and Mike Ramirez showed us all what that fantasy looked like.
I posted on the Daily Republic website, “Another day. Another Mike Ramirez cartoon. Another lie.” That little comment opened the floodgates of howls from the Foxophiles.
Herb Block started out while still in high school, drawing political cartoons and giving them to his local paper for free. From these humble beginnings, he ended his career 70 years later with four Pulitzer Prizes, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and $50 million for his foundation.
Now, thanks to your Daily Republic, you can have the same opportunity. Managing Editor Glen Faison will consider publishing political cartoons submitted by local artists and, in order to exactly duplicate Herb Block’s path to glory, he is willing to forego paying any compensation. We seriously need better political cartoons here. So, go for it, Fairfield.
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at [email protected]