NOVEMBER 2, 2010. What's wrong with this picture? Millions of Americans are sitting out there in their homes tonight, watching election returns, and these millions are advocates of health freedom, and yet their opinion isn't reflected by a single candidate in any federal or state race.
Zero representation. Zilch. Nada.
I've been thinking about this fact for a long time, ever since I ran a primary campaign for a seat in the US Congress, in 1994-on a platform of health freedom.
For those readers who don't know what health freedom means, let boil it down: unimpeded access to the widest possible range of nutritional supplements; the ability to choose any treatment from any health practitioner, on one's own responsibility; the solid assurance and knowledge that big government will never meddle in these areas.
I recently interviewed constitutional attorney, Jonathan Emord, about these questions. His answers were more than interesting.
"...in the end, the FDA is the drug industry's, not the supplement industry's, to control. In other words, FDA will be pleased to expand its regulatory power over the supplement industry but not for the benefit of the supplement industry's leaders. Rather, FDA will invariably use greater regulatory power over the supplement industry to aid its favored regulatee, the drug industry, not to shore up the market share of large supplement companies. The drug industry, not the supplement industry, holds almost all the cards at FDA and in Congress. The supplement industry has relatively little clout by comparison.
"Instead of engaging in self-flagellation, the industry ought to refute false representations against supplement safety and efficacy and promote public awareness of the many benefits supplements bring to consumers. Supplements are rarely the cause of human injury. The science concerning their health enhancing effects abounds and grows weekly....
"Rather than engage in self-flagellation, the [nutritional] industry should celebrate its strengths, advertise them continually to the public and the government, and act to defend on grounds of principle the freedom to market and sell safe and potentially life-saving and health enhancing supplements."
Let me add my own comments-
The nutritional industry is delusional and timid. Delusional, because it considers its lobbying position with Congress and the FDA to be strong, and timid because it is afraid to embark on a very, very aggressive PR campaign to educate the public, and force government officials to acknowledge the benefits of its products.
The industry would rather operate in relative silence and hope the walls and ceiling don't collapse around their heads. They believe an aggressive PR campaign would attract unwanted attention from its enemies.
This is a woeful strategy, and it will eventually bring defeats, as all passivity does.
The passivity is accompanied by the massively foolish idea that the nutritional industry already has important clout with the FDA and Congress.
Next point: IF nutritional companies radically changed their stance, who would lead them into a new era?
Supposedly, their own trade associations. Do you know the names of any of these associations? Have you ever seen one of their representatives on television?
The trade associations are what, mumbling in their green drinks? Who knows? Who cares? We're not seeing any action from them. Just to give you a standard of comparison, one could call the American Medical Association the trade group for doctors.
Get the point?
In a real sense, with very few exceptions, the nutritional companies and their trade associations are old fogies. They have no long-term acumen when it comes to political battles or PR campaigns. They have no important connections in the press. They don't know how to work the system in their own favor. They actually rely on the enormous good will of consumers, who, two decades ago, discovered the benefits of nutrients.
I don't think the fogies would recognize an effective PR campaign if it bit them in the butt. They have no vision. They don't imagine themselves in the public arena. They don't see themselves acquiring the kind of positive press coverage that would galvanize the public and force politicians to come over to their side.
And the sad and silly part of it is, waves of published studies and consumer benefits are there to deploy. When I say PR, I'm not referring to lies and propaganda. I'm just talking about telling the truth.
Fear, lack of vision, a paucity of ideas-this is what it comes down to. Hell, give me a budget and a year and I'll make this kind of PR zing. It's not rocket science and it's not brain surgery.
It's health freedom.
A basic right that underpins the Constitution.
Meanwhile, tonight, millions of Americans are watching the tube and no one is speaking for them.
They're putting huge dollars in the pockets of nutritional companies, and they aren't represented.