This response, written by Rep. Brad Tschida (R-Missoula) to constituent Bob Zimorino, speaks volumes.
Bob sent cards to all 150 legislators concerning HB 328, a bill making it illegal for physicians to prescribe drugs to end the suffering of the terminally ill (doctors could be charged with homicide, I believe). Bob personalized the card a bit to his own representative, Rep. Tschida, who sponsored the bill.
Here’s what Bob says about the card he sent to Rep. Tschida, which read something like this:
“I am severly disappointed that you have proposed a bill that would make Physician Aid in Dying illegal in Montana.” I may have said something about it being a right as verified by the Montana Supreme Court but I don’t remember. Mr. Tschida told me in a follow up it was in reaction to me for saying “shame on you for this bad bill” or something like that. He didn’t like the shaming part.
Rep. Tschida’s response to Bob’s card is copied above but here it is again, in an easier to read font:
I wonder by what moral code, or higher authority, do you presume to judge my actions on this issue?
I wonder if Rep. Tschida’s moral code/higher authority trumps Bob’s?
Missoula County voters, please keep in mind that we send about 16 legislators to Helena. The two Republicans have been an embarrassment: David “Yoga Pants” Moore and Brad Tschida.
Bob’s eloquent answer to his state representative’s less-than-sensitive note follows:
First, I appreciate that you responded to my card. Assuming that you must get a large volume of mail, I often wonder if the politicians that are elected ever even see all of it. So thank you for reading it and then responding.
Your assumption that I have some moral code or higher authority to make a judgment on your actions on this issue would be pretty far off base. This has nothing to do with either. I am a taxpayer and citizen of the state of Montana, reacting to a bill that I see as an attempt by the government, to take away a freedom that I believe the Supreme Court of the state of Montana, has basically reaffirmed through the Baxter decision.
This is an issue of freedom. I find it odd that the party that claims to want less government interference in our lives, is the party that creates more.
We call ourselves the land of the free. We recruit, train and pay young men and women to defend that freedom both here and abroad. We are free to choose where we want to live, to choose friends, to choose a spouse, to choose whatever level of education we wish to pursue, to choose a career path. We are free to choose.
We tell people around the world that we are a democracy…a democracy not a theocracy, because as a democracy we are free to choose our own God, or no God, or our own religion, with no one, having a moral imperative over another. Part of that freedom is a separation of church and state to be fair to all that live here.
I have employed hundreds of people in this state for over 35 years, and always paid my taxes, have never been arrested and have always been an active part of the community in which I live. For all of that, I expect no more than to be allowed the freedoms that we purport to have as Montanans.
However, as a taxpayer, I have every right to question the decision of any elected official, because you have chosen to run for office and have been chosen to represent the people of Montana. Are you saying as an elected official that you are beyond reproach? That is a ridiculous notion. You work for the public. If you forget that, you don’t deserve the job.
From my perspective, this is all about freedom. Here in the land of the free, I am told that I am free to make decisions in my life until the end, at which point the government will intrude and make decisions for me that I disagree with, because you as a lawmaker are uncomfortable with them.
I can honestly say that this is not about some higher moral ground for me. Can you say the same? Can you honestly say that this law that you put forth is not about your moral imperative?
For the sake of argument, if it is about your beliefs, what makes your God right and mine wrong? I believe in compassion and that interminable suffering is not part of God’s plan. At the same time I believe that you have a right to choose whatever God is in your heart.
If it is not about your beliefs, what other motive would you have for pushing this bill forward?
As an elected official, your job is to represent everyone, and their freedom to make choices in their life as well as their death. I ask that you keep this, the land of the free, because like I said at the beginning of this letter, this is all about freedom.
Thanks again for responding. I seek not to insult you but to give you my perspective on what I consider a bad bill for the people of Montana. I hope that I have answered your question.