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Wed Jul 18, 2012, 01:01 PM

Full Disclosure

The question of disclosure looms large this election cycle. First, there’s the appalling Citizens United decision, in which the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to anonymous corporate money. This is having a huge impact on this campaign season, as a tsunami of unregulated money from undisclosed sources threatens to drown the whole political landscape. Second, there’s Mitt Romney’s refusal so far to reveal the details of his prodigious wealth and his corresponding skill at tax avoidance.

In the interest of promoting an open democracy, at this time I voluntarily disclose that I contributed $50 last week to the Obama campaign. This was a big deal for me. Until the Rocky Mountain News folded, I was a newspaper journalist ethically forbidden from participating in campaigns, which included, as far as I was concerned, giving money to candidates. So, until a few days ago, I was a political donor virgin (full disclosure: except for a small donation last year to my good buddy, Colorado State Representative Max Tyler). I know that fifty bucks doesn’t sound like much in comparison to the $5 million casino magnate Sheldon Adelson just gave the GOP, but it’s still plenty for an unemployed cartoon magnate like myself.

Now that I’m a big-time campaign donor, having purchased access to the corridors of power (again in the interests of full disclosure), here’s what I will whisper in the president’s ear when I get the one-on-one face time I just bought. “Barack (I assume we big contributors get to be on a first-name basis with our contributees), stand up for the little guy. Stop trying to compromise with people who won’t compromise with you. All you’re doing is giving ground. Make the case for a progressive agenda that takes care of the poor, the displaced, the dispossessed, the powerless. That’s our primary job as members of a functioning democracy. Stand up for your health care reforms. Point out that the Republican governors who are refusing the Medicaid funds tend to preside over states with the worst health care records, and that refusing to extend coverage to their poorest citizens is not only stupid, it’s evil. Make the case, over and over again, that the Republican agenda of paying for tax cuts for the rich with benefit cuts for the poor impoverishes us all. Oh, and after the Barclays scandal, how can any candidate still say with a straight face that we need more deregulation of the financial sector? Remind the voters why we’re in this recession in the first place and make them understand that if we fall for the same old policies one more time, we may never recover.

“I ask nothing for myself, except this one small thing: do you think you might consider finding some funds for a program to help editorial cartoonists displaced by the implosion of the newspaper industry? You should come to our next convention (in Washington this September, so it won’t be hard to find us) You can recognize the ones who’ve recently been laid off. They’re the poor souls who will be wandering around aimlessly, our eyes vacant and haunted and our little fingers twitching to draw cartoons nobody will ever see. It wouldn’t cost a lot to help. There aren’t very many of us any more, but we’re suffering mightily. How about something like the old WPA during the New Deal. Maybe we could draw cartoons on the walls of post offices or something. Oh, right. Lots of post offices will probably be closing soon, too. Just our luck. Thanks anyway.”


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