An open letter to Joe Soptic
posted at 1:02 pm on August 8, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
By now, surely every political news follower in the U.S. has heard of the latest despicable ad against Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney put together by the pro-Obama PAC, Priorities USA. If not, here’s a recap: in it, a former steelworker, Joe Soptic, accuses Romney of murdering his wife. (Soptic lost his job and thus his health insurance when “Bain” closed his plant; several years later, his wife became ill and died.)
Below is my open letter to the poor fellow who was used by Priorities USA to make this ad:
Dear Mr. Soptic:
First, let me offer you belated condolences on the passing of your wife. Losing any beloved family member is a devastating blow, no matter how prepared—or not—one is for the event.
But that is one of the reasons I write this open letter. Like almost everyone, I, too, have experienced loss of family members to cancer. So I understand on a deeply emotional level the sorrow you felt and the anguish one feels in general at a cancer diagnosis to begin with.
This pain can lead us to rail at the heavens—why her, why him?—and to ponder a thousand different “if only” scenarios, many of them unreasonable and some of them hurtful.
You must be aware by now of how unreasonable and outright wrong you were to place the blame, even by implication, for your beloved wife’s passing on a complete stranger.
It is my sincerest hope that when you made your anti-Romney ad mentioning your wife, your thinking was still too muddled by grief to make reasonable judgments. If so, shame on those who encouraged you and on those who exploited your rash words in this ad.
But if you believe you were not unreasonable, that you were not wrong to link Mr. Romney to your wife’s death, let me try to demonstrate why you should rethink your view.
I understand the gut reaction one has to heart-wrenching losses. I experience my own set of visceral reactions to policy decisions that could have life-altering implications for me.
Cancer seems to rage in my family, particularly breast cancer. So much so that I’ve had the genetic testing done (and was relieved, for my daughter’s sake, to learn I don’t carry the BRCA gene). I’ve watched, appalled, as the FDA has pulled its blessing from the drug Avastin for use with late stage breast cancer patients, a decision that seems to have been driven as much by cost as by efficacy.
If someone I love dies because they didn’t have access to this drug, your logic suggests that I will know where to place the blame. Squarely with you, Mr.Soptic, for supporting a president whose policies surely encourage this type of health care rationing. Using your reasoning, their blood will be on your hands.