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What happened when Chairman Sen. Johnson sent his 2nd letter to the FDA?

Without ever receiving a response from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) after sending that 1st letter expressing his concerns, Senator Johnson then wrote a second letter demanding that the FDA respond by June 20th, no later than 5pm. Publishing the letter on the web for all to read, Johnson wrote: “Please provide information and material as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 20, 2016.”

The most promising aspect of that 2nd letter came into light at the very end of what he wrote, it stated:

If the FDA does not provide an adequate response to these inquiries, the Committee may be forced to resort to other means to compel the production of this information.Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee

This very statement gave the vaping community even more drama to feed off of, excitement and hope were not necessarily in mass abundance, but many were enthused and eager to see what would be done if the FDA failed to reply or comply.

Considering this, nothing on the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee website or Senator Ron Johnson’s Official Website, Twitter account or Facebook Page indicates that he has received any type of response from the FDA concerning his questions about the vaping regulations, in which he demanded an explanation. For instance, also in the 2nd letter, Johnson wrote:

“On May 17, 2016, I wrote to request your assistance in understanding the consequences that this new regulation may have on small businesses and the public’s health.  To date, you have not responded to my letter. Therefore, I write again to reiterate my request for information about FDA’s regulation and its potential consequences.”Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee

Senator Johnson failing to acknowledge any type of message on social media

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However, what’s peculiar about this situation with Senator Johnson failing to acknowledge any type of message on social media for the Vaping community to stay informed on whether or not the FDA responded is the very fact that there actually was an FDA written response sent to the Chairman in a letter dated June 16th. Huh? Neither the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee nor any of Johnson’s personal social media sites kept the public or the press “in the know” pertaining to this topic. Why?

Was there some strange “behind-closed-doors” decision to keep this information hidden?

Isn’t effective communication the key to building positive relations as well as what helps shape a full-functioning democracy? Was there some strange “behind-closed-doors” decision to keep this information hidden? If so, was it kept from being released in order to allow this scenario to be drawn out even longer than necessary? Was this some sort of strategic attempt at generating more anticipation, more drama?

Well, over the years, it has been said a number of times by a plethora of political pundits, satirists, comedians, journalists and many others that, “politics is show-business for ugly people.” So, creating an escalating drama is significant to their overall process – but that can’t explain why this occured, could it? To read more information on this memorable quote, feel free to read the information on this site.

Furthermore, the FDA reply was not officially announced by Johnson until he sent over a 3rd letter (we will discuss the 3rd Letter & the FDA Response in much more extreme detail throughout the next 2 Parts after Part 3 which are all included in this research project consisting of 5 articles on Sen. Johnson Challenging the FDA). One thing is certain, if you begin to look at this entire situation more closely, with a Sociological Imagination, you start to realize how outlandish and unpredictable this has truly become.

We are basically forced to witness one Federal employee ask for answers from one government agency consisting of many other federal employees

This is what happens when the Federal government attempts to communicate with itself. That is a main point many tend to forget – with Johnson challenging the FDA, we are basically forced to witness one Federal employee ask for answers from one government agency consisting of many other federal employees. Altogether, we are seeing the Federal government seek inquiries within itself. Regardless, we must still analyze everything involved to try to formulate a better understanding. In all honesty, the more I research, the more confusion settles in. It is often said that the “truth hurts” but should it really be this difficult to seek out?

Chairman Sen. Johnson Demands an FDA Reply on Specific Date

Read the full-length 2nd Letter here: (https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/media/majority-media/chairman-johnson-demands-answers-from-fda-on-e-cigarette-regulations). This 2nd letter was certainly much less detailed when compared to the first letter that was sent. Nevertheless, the 2nd letter still served as progress in the fight for Vaper-rights as Sen. Johnson’s tone remained insistent. Still, with all the uncertainty surrounding this story, I must say, I am still very grateful for Johnson’s decision to challenge a government agency with far too much authority. If you closely look deep into what the FDA truly does, they essentially control everything that harms us or kills us, not what can save us. So, it’s only natural that they install a prohibition on one of the potentially largest public health interventions we have ever seen: that is, Vaping, of course.

Senator Johnson wrote in his 2nd letter :

“Please provide information and material as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 20, 2016.”Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee

Well, it’s long past June 20th now and Johnson has yet to clarify whether his demands were met by the FDA. I’m guessing with all the civil unrest occurring around the country as well as all over the world (i.e. mass shootings, isolated terrorist attacks, etc.) he has been forced to focus on other issues. I want to believe that his lack of communication concerning his inquiry to the FDA is for good reason. After all, it is an election year.

However, besides only two other websites, why haven’t more vaping advocates written any articles about this? Why haven’t I seen more posts on social media pertaining to this topic? I’ve seen some, but not nearly enough. Johnson’s inquiries have now transformed into a larger social issue. As a community, vapers should be advocating for more action on this issue.

Sociological Analysis of Senator Johnson & FDA Regulations

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Altogether, as a Sociologist, my “Sociological Imagination” (see below for definition) has begun convincing me that Senator Ron Johnson as merely the chosen “puppet” to represent the government on this issue, seeming as if he was truly concerned for all the job loss and public health consequences.

Was he simply hand picked by his capitalist cronies to make it seem as if a politician with some authority was standing up for the Vaping Industry?

My “Sociological Imagination” tells me that Johnson, the Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, was simply hand picked by his capitalist cronies to make it seem as if a politician with some authority was standing up for the Vaping Industry, to persuade vapers into thinking that politicians work for the people. The sad truth is that elected officials are decision-makers for a system of Crony Capitalism, typically influenced more so by the corporate conglomerates who are funding their campaigns. Then again, this is merely viewing the issue through a lens defined by one of the top Sociological theories known as the “Conflict Perspective.”

A winning idea

Image from Facebook (senronjohnson)
Image from Facebook (senronjohnson)

Not to mention, if Senator Johnson is continually referred to as a “vulnerable” candidate (read part one) for the upcoming election, then he may just be seeking out ways to garner the attention of specific groups for the purpose of gaining more voters on his side. In politics, there are elections and in those elections’ winners are most definitely always determined by the result of earning the most votes. Obviously, if the media has repeatedly referred to you as a “vulnerable” candidate, then finding new creative ways to gather the most people to vote for you might be a winning idea.

On the other hand, these type of conspiratorial ideas fueled by the Sociological  “Conflict Perspective” often occur if you are someone who studied Sociology for nearly 8 years or at least studied social sciences at the Graduate Level of Academia for the better part of a decade as well as taught Sociology at the collegiate level. Altogether, I’m hoping my imaginative mind’s eye, my sociological-eyes are merely playing tricks on me. It would surely be such a terribly disappointing discovery to learn these corrupt scenarios had some truth attached to them. Right? For now, it can never be ruled out, yet let us simply assume it is nothing more than exaggerated concepts fueled by the discipline of sociology.

Conclusions to Sociological Reflection

vaping-fda-sociological-reflection

From what I can gather, all I am aware of, is the FDA regulations which Sen. Johnson so eagerly sought answers to, were not addressed again by him at all for nearly a month after this 2nd letter was sent. Once again, I must reiterate the significance behind what Senator Johnson wrote near the end of this second attempt for clarification. Johnson wrote somewhat of a threatening statement at the end of his 2nd letter, strictly declaring, “If the FDA does not provide an adequate response to these inquiries, the Committee may be forced to resort to other means to compel the production of this information.”

Taking this into account, I must admit, I’m patiently waiting for those “other means,” to be enforced. Yet, time is of the essence. There is no time to waste (although much has already been wasted) and no time to play games. If Senator Johnson would is in genuine in his remarks and would seriously like to pursue “other means,” he can simply File a Formal Legislative Injunction that will require the FDA to reply with the appropriate response Johnson is seeking – it is essentially a Subpoena. Forcing the FDA to comply by sending Johnson the proper documents he requested that will fully justify their claims ultimately providing sufficient proof (which they have none).

This whole time, Chairman Johnson may have just been stirring up drama.

Apparently, this whole time, Chairman Johnson may have just been stirring up drama, creating a name for himself among an untapped market, a group which does not necessarily have the political support it deserves. Barely any politicians are speaking up on behalf of the vaping industry. If you’re in need of a marginalized group of American citizens who actually vote, then supporting the vaping industry is your target!

Evidently, the Senator surely stays involved in nearly every issue of the political spectrum. Thus, it is obvious Johnson can tackle more issues than most politicians and his service is commendable. He is clearly capable of juggling countless problems, more than simply one at a time. Therefore, why all of the sudden is there no talk about his letters he sent to the FDA? This is an issue he could easily take head on along with writing letters to the FBI voicing his concern about prosecuting Hillary Clinton for her irresponsible email usage or being interviewed on FOX NEWS about American Gun Rights.

If Senator Johnson has the time and motivation to go on national television to address the legitimacy of a politician’s intentions when using a personal email account for government business, then why in the world can’t he voice his concerns about the thousands of lives that will be negatively affected by the FDA regulations? Negatively affected by mass job loss, an annihilation of small businesses and a threat to public health. Stop writing and speak up! Of course I should most likely probably take my own advice, but I’m merely an analytical Sociologist and private citizen, not a publicly elected official who has that authority.

Senator Johnson wrote all of the right things and asked all of the right questions, yet I’m sure many are wanting to know – what is the next step? What will happen? What does the Chairman plan to do? Especially after declaring, “If the FDA does not provide an adequate response to these inquiries, the Committee may be forced to resort to other means to compel the production of this information.” By all means, please pursue resorting to those “other means” – we’re waiting…

So, given all that has been discussed, in hindsight, will Senator Ron Johnson’s Involvement help the Vaping Industry?

So, given all that has been discussed, in hindsight, will Senator  Ron Johnson’s Involvement help the Vaping Industry? It all depends on one thing. I believe if Johnson’s involvement is motivated by some inner force or natural determination and strength to seek out truth & facts with a belief that logic is necessary, then anything is possible. Yet, the FDA continues to quickly approve dangerous pharmaceuticals while simultaneously installing a prohibition on a billion-dollar industry which is coincidentally a threat to pharmaceutical sales due to offering a healthier alternative to the smoking epidemic.

Therefore, Johnson’s involvement, whether he truly walks a path of righteousness and exudes altruistic behavior, but the fact that he is most definitely still being proactive is beneficial and widely-respected nevertheless. Regardless of my skepticism, I applaud his involvement. It is much needed. However, much more is desperately needed.

To conclude this series of research articles focusing on Senator Ron Johnson’s pursuit for clarification, in Part 4 and Part 5 we will analyze his most recent actions and reactions towards the FDA, specifically the third letter he sent. This is absolutely necessary, in order to discuss the initial FDA response and everything involved within and all that which now surrounds that response. Stay tuned in and NEVER stop questioning what seems illogical.


Sociology Terms Explained

Conflict PerspectiveSociological Imagination
The Social “Conflict Perspective” theory sees social life as a competition and focuses on the distribution of resources, power, and inequality. In the textbook Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach 10th Edition, written by James M. Henslin clarifies, “Conflict theorists stress that society is composed of groups that are competing with one another for scarce resources. Although the surface may show alliances or cooperation, scratch that surface and you will find a struggle for power” (Henslin 2010:27). Conflict theory is much better at explaining social change, and seemingly weaker at explaining social stability.  Learn more about this theory: http://sociology.about.com/od/Sociological-Theory/a/Conflict-Theory.htm
In regards to understanding the theoretical concept of a “Sociological Imagination”one must first know that it was formulated by a leading sociologist, C.Wright Mills. There is a textbook I used to teach Sociology out of to college students, titled Sociology in Modules, the writer Richard T. Schaefer is a professor at my Alma Mater, DePaul University in Chicago – which is besides the point. Regardless, Schaefer writes, that the “Sociological Imagination is the ability to view one’s own society as an outsider would, rather than only  from the perspective of personal experiences and cultural biases. It allows us to go beyond those personal experiences and observations to understand broader public issues. The “Sociological Imagination is an empowering tool. It allows us to look beyond a limited understanding of human behavior to the world and it’s people in a new way and through a broader lens than we might otherwise use” (Schaefer 2011:5).

 

There’s more to read!

Know everything about Senator Ron Johnson challenging FDA vaping regulations by reading our next chapters :

Read Part Four – Read Part Five

  • Charles Ploski

    Thank you for this insightful series!

    • Tony

      Absolutely! I believe it’s much too early to give up hope as well. I have faith in this. However, as you mentioned, it is hard not to begin speculating. It becomes natural once you begin digging deeper and scratching the surface. All those questions you proposed are legitimate concerns I have as well. With all the political corruption and the overall uncertainty of out political climate, how could we not ask such questions?

      Thanks for the insightful comment. It’s great to learn how much others may be interested in this story and also whether others may be experiencing some slight speculation about the Senator’s intentions…though, I want to believe his intentions are genuine. Stay tuned for part 4 & part 5 of this research series!

  • Tony ToeKnee Nguyen

    I find it difficult to find any confidence in political representatives, especially when they are in line with my own opinions. I feel that although there are a few of these reps siding with the vapor industry or at least not protesting it, the final decision will be based on the public at large. When the regulations are passed, the public will either say that they approve or disprove. If the majority approves, then we are at a loss. If the public disagrees and feels that we as a whole are being wronged then we have a chance to overthrow or at least amend the regulations to some compromise.

    • Tony

      Very well said and I completely agree. Perhaps we need all VAPERS to increase awareness among the general public and most importantly, find a way for them to empathize with the Vaping community. Thanks for commenting and make sure to read parts 4 & 5 of this topic’s research series!