Last week when the Washington Post published a private conversation between President Trump and Mexico’s president, Pena Nieto, the people of New Hampshire learned that Trump feels New Hampshire is a drug infested den. If you hated Trump before, you probably still do and have likely added these comments to your list of reasons why. If you love Trump, that has not changed, and you are likely glad he is addressing the problem.
Senators Shaheen and Hassan took to Twitter, with Shaheen calling the remarks a “gross misrepresentation” and demanding an apology from Trump. Senator Hassan called the comments “disgusting” and emphasized that the drug problem is everywhere and that insulting people in the throes of it is not helpful.
Republican reactions came swiftly too. Governor Sununu said, “The president is wrong. It’s disappointing; his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer.” Londonderry state representative Al Baldassaro told CNN: “Enough with the political correctness; Donald Trump did the right thing. He called it out for what it is.”
Trump said he won New Hampshire because it is a drug infested den. The term “drug den” is open for interpretation, but what people told Trump during the New Hampshire presidential primary is not. Trump won that primary after New Hampshirites told him about their struggles with the opioid crisis and informed him that we have the second highest per capita death rate in the nation from opioids. What thoughts do we expect a presidential candidate – one who wished to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep drugs out – to leave New Hampshire with when we tell him that? We should not expect him to forget this because we don’t want to look bad.
The comments made in protest and agreement of Trump’s original comments are like his original comments – they are mostly right, but not completely. Drug deaths in New Hampshire kill more people than car accidents, but the same can be said of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
We know insults aren’t helpful when it comes to moving forward in finding ways to fix this problem, but we also recognize the epidemic. New Hampshire does well in avoiding teen pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, and stroke, and is still the best place in the nation to raise children. We should be proud of what we do well while also addressing what we don’t.
Let’s analyze how we are as parents, members of the medical community, and patients. Let’s think about ways we can reduce the demand for opioids in the first place. Convince your kids to never touch opioids and to be careful with those prescribed to them. One thing is certain: something is very wrong here. What is it?