I interviewed Andrew Bard Schmookler on February 23rd, 2013. This is part one of a two part interview.
Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.
Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM, sponsored by Opednews.com , reaching South Jersey and metro Philly. My guest tonight is Andrew Bard Schmookler. He's an author, a speaker, a radio show host, and a recent candidate for Congress. He's been writing for Opednews for a long time, and I'm finally getting around to having him on the show, because he wrote something today that just really grabbed me and the whole idea of what Bottom Up Radio is all about -- talking about how Republicans are hierarchical. Good to have you on the show, Andy!
Andrew Schmookler: Thank you Rob, thank you very much! What I'm saying is that the culture in which the Republicans are operating is a historically hierarchical culture, and that's reflected in the Republican Party, and that's part of how they operate.
Rob Kall: And? Tell us more about that. First of all, what do you mean when you say that their culture is hierarchical?
Andrew Schmookler: First of all, I should maybe tell folks - I have deep roots in Philly, I'm living on a ridge in the western edge of Shenandoah Valley. The seat I ran for Congress for is the 6th District in Virginia, which is the most Republican District in the State of Virginia. I'm surrounded by people, and have talked on the radio for twenty years with the people, who make up this political culture. So I know a little bit about the ethic which has, through the generation over the centuries, developed in the South, and I see how Republicans have been exploiting it.
Rob Kall: How is that culture hierarchical?
Andrew Schmookler: Well, there is an ethic that those who are lower down in the hierarchy, it's not their job to question or challenge those in positions acknowledged as leadership. You're supposed to respect, heed, defer to, and obey authority. That's what a hierarchical society, how it is organized. That has great virtues, but it also has some inherent vulnerabilities, and in our time we're seeing those vulnerabilities being exploited.
Rob Kall: How is that different than Democrats?
Andrew Schmookler: Well, people say that getting Democrats to work in line together is like herding cats. Among our vulnerabilities is not the vulnerability of being ready to follow our Peerless Leader; with idolizing him, like they did Bush when he was in his full strut, and talked about him as "God's Anointed," and as happened in Germany in the 1930s and various other times when people turned to this "Strong Man on the White Horse," and have often been lead astray into very dark places.
Rob Kall: Well, it seems like that's the history of monarchies: monarchies claim to be descended from and imbued with their power from God.
Andrew Schmookler: The monarchies are one thing, but I'm talking about more modern phenomenon. having to do with politics where the power of the people gets expressed. Under the monarchies the people were subject, and in modern times you don't get a Hitler without their being -- what was it, he got 33% of the vote? In 1932? He never would have become leader unless he had millions of people who were seeing him as a virtual God. "Heil Hitler!" as the salute -- you could never do that with a bunch of Unitarians! The people on the left have their own vulnerabilities, but the people on the Right, they can be led astray, and they can therefore do very ugly things as a collectivity, like a lynching.
Rob Kall: Are Republicans - with this hierarchical, cultural nature - so different from Democrats?
Andrew Schmookler: That's what I've been saying. I think that in an ideal society everybody would have the ideal balance between respect for authority (which I think is a plus more than a lot of Liberals recognize) along with the critical examination of authority to hold it accountable, which the Left is very good at; the Right is good at the other. In an ideal society, everybody would have them in the proper bounds. But in a society that gets polarized like American society is polarized on almost every axis - by this sick and broken spirit - if a society that's polarized like ours, you've got one side that is vulnerable to too much respect for authority, and the other side whose mistakes tend to be in the direction of not respecting it enough.
In our times in America right now, the Republicans are manifesting, like never before in American History, a pathological turn to the exploitation of their worst elements, by a leadership which is basically a vehicle for a sick and broken spirit that just damages everything it touches.
Rob Kall: Wow. That's quite a mouthful.