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Thanks for caring

Like most political candidates, Mitt Romney has made life easy for pundits and critics. The Republican presidential hopeful has been lampooned for a host of personal details, from his wife’s dressage horse to the shape of his hairdo. He regularly puts his foot in his mouth with out-of-touch remarks about the middle class.

Sometimes readers call or write to complain to us about the Romney cartoons. They ask if we know that Idaho’s a red state, and that its voters will most likely vote Republican on Nov. 6.

We do know Romney is likely to carry Idaho easily. In 2008, when Barack Obama’s popularity was at its peak, U.S. Sen. John McCain trounced Obama here, 61 percent to 36 percent.

But surveys of our readers show they are likely to be business owners and managers who have decades of experience. They hold positions of great responsibility, and often manage large budgets. They’re a diverse and well-educated group.

To reach their leadership positions, such people learned long ago to question what they hear, and to form their own opinions.

For those who feel queasy about taking a critical look at the powerful, or the would-be powerful, think about this: Questioning leaders is an American tradition. That’s what the pamphleteers were doing in the years leading up to the American Revolution. In fact, that’s what all thinking people have done ever since they joined the adult world and found out that nobody, no matter how impressive, has all the answers.

Accordingly, we choose editorial cartoons and editorial page columns that not only inform, but also stimulate our readers intellectually. We pick the best – and most timely, if possible – editorial cartoon available each week. This week, we’re noting that a small amount of government oversight in Massachusetts – a state rather well-known for its government oversight, especially in health care – might have prevented a fungal outbreak that as of press time had killed 24 people nationwide and sickened more than 300.

So to those who criticize our editorial page offerings: Thank you.

The fact that you question what we do is in keeping with the spirit of questioning anyone in authority. If you think we have unfairly besmirched your candidate – Romney, Obama (who has also appeared in editorial cartoons), anyone running for statewide or local office – by all means, call the newspaper, email us a letter, voice your opinion on the website.

You may think that, because your candidate has been comically portrayed on the opinion page, the Idaho Business Review is your enemy.

That’s not true. The real enemy of the electoral process in this country is apathy, and apathy leads to ignorance, and ignorance leads to electing someone on Tuesday, Nov. 6, then regretting it the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 7.

If you call or write to criticize this newspaper, especially if you explain why you consider an editorial, an editorial cartoon or a column – even this one – misguided, you are doing your part to keep this state and this country strong. When you question this newspaper, or other news outlets or candidates for office, you are putting them on notice that you expect results and explanations, not just slick slogans. It shows you are paying attention, and that you are a thinking person who has taken the time to analyze what you are reading or hearing.

With our cartoons and our opinion pieces, we mean no disrespect to those of you who make that effort.

As for the undecided voters, who also have been featured in cartoons in our pages, in fact we do mean a little disrespect. (Take the time to learn about the issues and make up your minds.)

And for everybody else, please take the editorial cartoons in the spirit in which they’re intended: as an amusing way to make serious points, as a way to shine a light on the foibles of even those who, our system of government says, are the best this nation can offer.

The best, maybe; but perfect? No way.

About Anne Wallace Allen

Anne Wallace Allen is the editor of the Idaho Business Review.