Early Monday morning, my fiancé and I had the honor to attend a campaign event in Dallas, Texas – hosted by our friends Dr. Mark Parker and Eric Johnson – with special guest, Robby Mook, campaign director for Hillary Clinton. Recently, I have discussed the unique nature in which a “recovery bloc” is beginning to emerge in the United States, and meeting with Mr. Mook at the event further reaffirms those points.
Substance use disorders and mental health are a top 5 issue in this cycle, although primarily only in the New England states (at least according to the polls). While the contests were in those north-eastern states, many of the candidates had much to say on behavioral health, and especially the opioid epidemic in the country – which is now made prominent due to the over 140 drug poisoning deaths happening per day. During this time, we got to hear personal stories from candidates such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton. At the time, two candidates had also released substantial policy briefs on substance use disorders (one of these candidates, Jeb Bush, is no longer in the POTUS race). Hillary Clinton’s plan, a $10,000,000,000 comprehensive approach to the issue, has been the most progressive plan released as of yet. This plan is one of the reasons that I count myself among the supporters of Hillary, and had the chance to discuss this plan and the issue of substance use with Mr. Mook Monday morning.
Now in politics it is easy to talk to many issues with some level of competence, at least that should be expected of someone of the tenure and position of campaign director. However, during his comments, Mr. Mook talked with passion about many marginalized populations, including the LGBTQ+ community (which Robby belongs to, and is the first openly gay Campaign Director in the United States), gender equality communities, poverty-stricken communities, DREAMer and immigrant communities, and the recovery community. The zeal that the campaign, and Mr. Mook personally, talked about fighting and advocating for this communities was empowering. If we had not been supporters before that point, it would have been hard to not become so after.
After his public comments, when Arielle and I had a moment to speak with him privately, we broached the topic of recovery quite specifically. We asked Robby when addiction, a top 5 issue in the New England states, as well as in the upcoming caucuses of Utah (where accidental drug poisonings are the 5th highest in the nation), would become a focal point of the campaign messaging again; we excitedly stated that there were 23 million individuals in long-term recovery, many of which vote and needed to have their issue made prominent by candidates. Not surprisingly, Robby remarked that while the campaigns were in states like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa the issue came up quite regularly. He vividly recalled the personal stories of constituents at town halls telling their personal stories of recovery, and the impact it had on the campaign. Of course, the issue is not as prevalent in the Southern states, and has fallen somewhat of the radar. However, as we were talking he said something that should perk the ears of all voters in recovery – Hillary has a passion for the obstacles and hope that is inside the recovery community (she has been deeply moved by the stories of kids that are in families affected by substance use disorders). At times, she has been so passionate that she has been advised to tone it back some – at which Arielle animatedly told Robby to “let her get hyped up about recovery!”. This type of passion from a candidate, coupled with a comprehensive and well thought out policy on behavioral health and recovery is exactly what we have asked for in the recovery community.
This morning Hillary had the chance to move past the political rhetoric, and to truly touch on the issues facing the recovery community – and she did so through her campaign director. It would have been easy to give a cookie cutter response to our questions, but what we got was actually a deeply moving answer ingrained with experience and real stories. Arielle and I will be continuing our fight to put Hillary Clinton in the White House, and I would encourage many of the recovery voters out there to support this candidate as well, or at the very least to give her a second look. Hillary is the recovery candidate, as well as the face and champion for many other demographics and issues. The even bigger truth is that she is my candidate – something I thought would take years to find as a person living in long-term recovery.
To support Hillary Clinton, or to find out more about the campaign, visit HillaryClinton.Com