An Open Letter to Congressman Trey Radel
On Embracing an Opportunity to Learn
Dear Congressman Radel:
I am one of your constituents from Southwest Florida, though as a liberal, I haven’t been particularly well represented by you and your office. Perhaps that goes without saying. Regardless, I certainly cannot fault you for being a conservative politician, elected from a conservative district, for voting as a conservative. Since I endeavor to be objective, it is apparent to me that your drug problem did not seriously impact your performance as congressman. You were there for most votes. You voted as the majority of your constituents expected. I may not have agreed with your positions, but that does not mean that you did not do the job that you were elected to do.
Nor does it mean that I should take this opportunity to celebrate your personal misfortunes for the sake of political contingency. Regardless of our political differences, you are first and foremost a human being, a husband and a father. Addiction is a difficult challenge for anyone, so I sincerely wish you and your family well. I hope you get all of the help and support that I, as a liberal, believe is your right. Despite your status, and the privileges that go along with it, you still have a difficult task ahead of you. Good luck to you and to yours.
However, I hope that you take this challenge as an opportunity to learn about a segment of your constituency and your nation that shares your challenge. You see, like congressmen, poor people can also fall prey to the allure of drugs and the trap of addiction. Unlike congressmen, the poor cannot take a leave of absence from their position while they get the help that they so desperately need.
Like an addicted congressman, an addicted poor person deserves help. They do not deserve to be punished, and certainly their children do not deserve to be punished, with the loss of life sustaining services such as food stamps. As you know, threats and punishment are not effective means of dealing with the disease of addiction. They are not effective for congressmen; they are even less effective for the poor.
I hope that you first and foremost get the help that you and your family need to restore your health. When all is done, however, it is my hope that you will re-examine your position with regard to the nature of addiction. Doing so will make you a much better representative for those among your constituents who suffer as you do.
With Sincere Regards