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Dr. Andy Schmookler, a Shenandoah County Democrat, will challenge incumbent Congressman Bob Goodlatte for the 6th Congressional District seat. Dr. Schmookler said, in a phone interview last week, that he has the party’s nomination.
Dr. Schmookler graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees with a degree in Social Relations in 1967. Dr. Schmookler said that Social Relations was a cross-disciplinary degree that combined sociology, psychology and cultural anthropology.
He earned his doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley in a program tailored for his research on a comprehensive theory of human history. This research was published in 1984. He has since published Out of Weakness: Healing the Wounds that Drive Us to War; Sowings and Reapings: The Cycling of Good and Evil in the Human System; The Illusion of Choice: How the Market Economy Shapes Our Destiny; Fool’s Gold: The Fate of Values in a World of Goods; Living Posthumously: Confronting the Loss of Vital Powers; and Debating the Good Society: A Quest to Bridge America’s Moral Divide.
He’s also been on radio, and his radio work includes commentaries on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Dr. Schmookler has, in addition, had work published in several newspapers and has spoken at a number of universities, including Harvard.
This is his first run for public office.
“I see America facing a profound crisis which is not being talked about and my background enables me to understand,” said Dr. Schmookler, explaining why he’s thrown his hat in the ring.
“The whole body politic has failed,” he said, describing the nature of the crisis. “On the right has emerged a force that is more destructive, more dishonest than anything we have seen in history at center stage. The rest of the body politic has failed to deal with it.”
“America needs a good conservative party,” Dr. Schmookler went on to say, “but this is not the party of Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater or Dwight Eisenhower anymore. It gains power only by deceiving its followers. It pretends to be conservative and patriotic, to serve Christian values, but it isn’t.”
Dr. Schmookler said that his research has been on how destructive forces work on societies if they are not controlled. In America’s case, the destructive force at work has dominated America’s political system. It’s using a divide and conquer strategy to divide the American people against each other. He said that the power of the state is being turned to allow few to exploit the many.
He also said that big money is buying America’s government. “My campaign is to show how people power can defeat the money power.”
Dr. Schmookler said that he’s making two promises.
“I will speak the truth as I understand it,” he said. “That makes me different from most politicians and sets what wants to lie to defeat the truth in our political discussions.”
“I will treat the well being of average Americans as just as important as that of the richest and most powerful,” he said, stating his second promise.
If elected, Dr. Schmookler wants to fix the problems in America’s political system, to make it a government that is “for the people, by the people.”
Dr. Schmookler has proposals to do this. One is to level the political playing field by giving every registered voter a voucher that can only be used to support election related speech. The individual can give the money to candidates, political parties or issue- related groups.
“Only election money could be used in the election process,” he said.
Dr. Schmookler said that the Supreme Court decisions have ruled that money equals free speech. He was referring to a recent decision that struck down restrictions on donations to political action committees clearing the way for “super PACs.” Under his system, “every registered voter gets an equal amount of that speech.”
He said that there will still be inequalities of wealth, which means that some people will still have a bigger voice, but the playing field will be leveled for elections.
Another step he wants to take, and this will require a Constitutional amendment, is to take politics out of redistricting following the federal decennial census.
“The present system gives power to political parties and to incumbents at the expense of the power of the voters,” he said.
Dr. Schmookler would like to see redistricting done via a computer algorithm that would draw districts that would have equal numbers of people in them. He said that this would prevent political parties from gerrymandering congressional districts to their advantage at the expense of the people.
He sees a need for a new type of politician.
“I would speak the truth,” he said. “I fault how both parties conduct themselves,” he said. “I’m interested in restoring the integrity of our democracy and not serving a purely partisan interest.”
Dr. Schmookler was critical of Congressman Goodlatte’s performance.
“Bob Goodlatte had been a rubber stamp for this Republican Party while this party has gone bad,” he said. “That tells me he is not serving the people of his district because this Republican Party only pretends to serve the interests of its supporters while it takes power and wealth away from average Americans and gives to those who already have most of the power and wealth.”
Dr. Schmookler added: “He’ll go along with whatever his party says.”