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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution.
Sunday, March 29, 2015 Big Money vs. The People: The Main Political Battle of Our Times
Published as an op/ed in newspapers in my very red congressional district in Virginia, this piece argues that the major battle in America today is not over the issues many focus on -- abortion, immigration, gun rights, etc. -- but over whether the United States will be governed for and by the people, or whether Big Money will transform America into a different kind of society altogether.
Thursday, March 19, 2015(1 comments)
Taking on the Man Who Would Be Virginia's Scott Walker
From the way the Koch Brothers have invested in this politician, one can reasonably infer what he would do with the power he's expected to seek two years from now. Hence a larger possible significance of the decision of my wife, who has never before run for political office, to challenge him in his race for the state Senate-- challenge him on the basis of his being a tool of the plutocracy, helping steal power from the people.
Saturday, March 14, 2015(1 comments)
Thou Art the Man: A Message to the Republican Base
I don't know which is more troubling: to have a political party that has gone rogue, that respects neither the will of the people nor the norms of American politics; or to have the base of a supposedly conservative party rewarding conduct from its leaders that would formerly have been regarded as disgraceful and destructive of our democracy and its traditions.
Sunday, March 8, 2015(7 comments)
Antonin Scalia, No Judge He
Supreme Court Justice Scalia wrote a whole book on how the meaning of a statute should be construed. Following his stated principles, Scalia should unhesitatingly reject this latest challenge to Obamacare, argued last week before the Court. Instead, according to observers, he seems determined to ignore principle to get a victory for his side. If or when he does that, he will show once again: he's a political hack in robes.
Monday, February 2, 2015(51 comments)
How the Democrats Let America Down in the Shameful 2014 Elections
In the 2014 elections, the American people handed still more power to a political party that, in the previous Congress, had betrayed the nation right out in the open, trampling on the norms and traditions of our Democracy. That should have been the main issue in the campaign. But the Democratic Party failed to press that issue, never bothered to call out that disgraceful behavior to help the American electorate see that truth.
Thursday, December 11, 2014(1 comments)
The Police Shootings: A New Chapter in an Old Story of Racial Oppression
There is a long history of violence against black men being used to intimidate the whole race and, thereby, maintain white dominance. These recent shootings by police of unarmed black men looks like part of that history. Meanwhile, America's first black president seems himself to have been intimidated. In choosing his successor, our prime question should be: who will take on the party of the oppressor?
Tuesday, December 2, 2014(14 comments)
Tea Partiers' Response to My Ferguson Piece Provides a Glimpse into the Darkness
I wrote a piece saying that Missouri officials should have made it their top priority to conduct the Ferguson case in a way so as to minimize the chance of inflicting an unnecessary wound on their community and America: do everything possible to make everyone confident in the integrity of the process. Responses from Tea Partiers show something very disturbing that's a window into the dark force on the right.
Monday, November 24, 2014(12 comments)
Can America Be Saved # 5: Neither Side in America is Seeing an "Evil Force" for What it Is
The people on each side of America's political divide are making a fundamental error at what might be called the level of the spirit. On the right, the error is mistaking one spiritual force for another. On the left, the error is failing to recognize the importance of such forces - not directly visible, but vast and powerful - in human affairs.
Saturday, November 22, 2014(57 comments)
Can America Be Saved? # 4: The Two-Sided Dynamic of Our National Crisis
The dynamic that is damaging our America, therefore, seems to have two main parts: 1)The Republican Party has become the instrument of a destructive force; 2)The response from Liberal America to this threat has been woefully weak. To drain the power of the right, and strengthen Liberal America, requires addressing the different "spiritual" errors the two sides make concerning "evil."
Wednesday, November 19, 2014(15 comments)
Can America Be Saved? # 3 We Are Losing for Want of Seeing What's Winning
The point needs to be stressed. The status quo is not leading us where we need to go. At the level that matters most, even our "victories" are not winning the battle. We are losing at the level where, fundamentally, this battle is being fought. That's at the level of the spirit.
Thursday, November 13, 2014(79 comments)
Can America Be Saved? Not If We're Blind to the One Force That Can Turn This Battle Around
We won't be able to out-spend, or out-propagandize, or out-organize the forces of the right, or be more eager for conflict than their wounded minions. But what we do have we have that can turn this battle around is a moral and spiritual truth - a truth aligned with the deepest values and interests of America and one that can tap into the power of the spirit.
Monday, November 10, 2014(23 comments)
How Did "Yes We Can!" Become "No We Couldn't"?
Can America be saved? It is going to require a lot of people in Liberal America to expand their notion of the potential sources of power available to turn our current dangerous political dynamic around.
Friday, November 7, 2014(21 comments)
The Democrats Should Come Out Swinging
The Democrats lost not because they were wrong but because they were weak. Weak in their fighting. And weak in presenting a vision for America. This is not a time to become deferential because of the rebuke from the voters. It is a time to call out the Republicans when they violate our norms, and to inspire the people with a vision of a better America.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014(22 comments)
Shame on Us! (Giving Still More Power to Such a Party)
Shame on us, the American people, for giving more power to a Party that has blatantly betrayed the nation. Shame on us, the Democratic Party, for being so blind and timid as to fail to make the election about that betrayal. Are we in the grassroots willing to step forward and do the job the Democratic leaders are failing to do? See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle. If not, shame on us.
Monday, November 3, 2014(61 comments)
Why the Republican Party Loves the Abortion Issue
Single-issue voters have fallen into a trap created and exploited by a savvy political force. The abortion issue is disconnected from the grab for money and power that's the true business of the GOP. So, by making that the defining issue of morality for a large class of voters, the GOP is freed to pursue large-scale immorality without fear of losing their support.
Thursday, October 30, 2014 The Right's Urge to Kick Down: Doing Unto Others as Has Been Done Unto You
That template of the downward kick is so ingrained in the culture - at multiple levels, and especially in some parts of the culture - that even many who, in socio-economic terms, are in dominant positions have had profound -- but often unintegrated-- experiences of that kick-down pain. That helps to explain why even members of the elite, especially on the right, have the urge to deal with those on the bottom punitively.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 #10 Ideas That Can Make Liberal America Stronger: Value Is at the Heart of Our Humanity
It's a mistake to believe that clear, intellectually responsible thinking proves that "values" are not real, are just "subjective," just matters of opinion. Such beliefs in Liberal America contribute to its weakness in this time of crisis. A real understanding of what we are and how we came to be shows "value" is real the only way it can be-- and is at the heart of our humanity.
Monday, October 27, 2014(41 comments)
When Bad Politics Are Supported by Good People
A recent wonderful visit with our Republican cousins underscored a stark contrast between the goodness of those people and the nature of the political force to which they give their support. So I wrote about that contrast in this piece published in several newspapers in my conservative Virginia congressional District.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014(4 comments)
# 9 Concerned About Where Our Nation Is Heading?
Americans think the nation is heading in the wrong direction. My biggest worries are 1) that our democracy is increasingly being transformed into a plutocracy, and 2) we are failing to address the pressing emergency of global climate change. On both issues, the Republicans are playing a destructive role, while the Democrats are failing to press the battle with the needed vigor. This pattern shows the core of America's crisis.
Monday, October 13, 2014(11 comments)
# 7 Dispirited Liberal America
In Liberal America these days, one encounters a good deal of hopelessness about the future of our country. Why the hopelessness? The difficult circumstances certainly play a part. But they are not answer enough. Hopelessness is also a sign of disconnection from the realm of the spirit. In that realm, there is no sense of "impossible." And this disconnection from the spirit is also at the root of Liberal America's weakness. Series: Press the Battle (8 Articles, 8667 views)
Friday, October 10, 2014(10 comments)
The Force Is Not With Us: We Identify with Our Fantasy Heroes -- Why Don't We Emulate Them?
We all know how to respond to evil. Again and again, our popular stories and mythology take us vicariously and gratifyingly through the process -- e.g. in films like "Avatar," "Star Wars," "Lord of the Rings," where our heroes risk everything to defeat an evil force in defense of sacred values. Why is it, then, that as we face that same essential situation in America's contemporary reality, we fail to respond as our heroes do? Series: Press the Battle (8 Articles, 8667 views)
Thursday, October 9, 2014(28 comments)
Sorry Mr. Krugman: Obama Came to Office Holding a Royal Flush, Then Declared His Hand "Ace High"
Krugman's judgments are generally unusually good. But not this week's, where he calls Obama's presidency one of the most "successful." Six years into Obama's presidency, the American political system is a dysfunctional wreck such as we've never seen before. At one level, that's the fault of today's terrible GOP. But it is also the result of this president's failure to expose, fight, and defeat that ugly force.
Monday, October 6, 2014(18 comments)
# 5 Liberal America, You Don't See What We're Up Against, and It Matters
Liberal America does not perceive well the nature of the force that's taken over the right. Not perceiving what we're up against has enormous consequences, because understanding one's foe - its nature, its way of working, the disposition of its forces - has enormous implications for devising the best strategy for defeating it. Providing a good understanding of what it is we are up against is a central purpose of this series. Series: Press the Battle (8 Articles, 8667 views)
Sunday, October 5, 2014(15 comments)
Accused of Us-Versus-Them Thinking, I Responded
One tool does not fit all situations. So it is necessary to have a diversity of tools in one's toolbox: tools for building bridges, and tools for waging battle.
Thursday, October 2, 2014(11 comments)
The Right-Wing Trolls Have a Strategy. What's Ours?
To engage with right-wing trolls is to play into their hands.
Many of us in Liberal America learned to regard ideas as a way to capture the truth. But ideas in the world of the right-wing troll don't seem to be about truth. Instead, they are tools to use in political combat.
We should think as strategically about our discussions as they do.
Monday, September 29, 2014(49 comments)
# 4 Not Our Finest Hour: Why Is Liberal America Falling So Far Short?
We in Liberal America are now embattled. America has been in kindred battles before, and on those occasions to which we look to see our finest American ideals expressed and embodied, great American leaders have shown the way: "See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle." But in this crisis, in this battle, Liberal America is falling far short of our nation's finest ideals. Why is that? Series: Press the Battle (8 Articles, 8667 views)
Friday, September 26, 2014(31 comments)
How I See What We're Up Against in our Nation's Time of Brokenness
The first thing is for us in Liberal America to see clearly what it is that we are up against. Then it becomes necessary to find ways to take that understanding and use it to defeat this force -- and part of that is to figure out how to bring our fellow Americans back from that place of darkness and confusion and into a constructive way of using their force in the world.
Thursday, September 25, 2014(4 comments)
# 3.5: This Is What You Should Be Making This Election About, Mr. President
Republican obstructionism has given us the most dysfunctional government maybe ever. The American people are quite dissatisfied with the performance of their government, but they need help understanding where the problem lies. I ask President Obama: Why are you not using this last opportunity to tell the voters what's gone wrong, so they can use their votes to get back a government that does the people's business?
Monday, September 22, 2014 # 3 Calling out the Republicans. Obama Hasn't So We Must.
President Obama should have made it a top priority to help the American people see what the Republican Party has become, so they'd take away that Party's power. Unfortunately, Barack Obama seems ill-equipped by temperament and character to fight that battle. When our leaders fail to do what is urgently needed, we the people must find a way to get it done. That is what this "Press the Battle" series is about. Series: Press the Battle (8 Articles, 8667 views)
Thursday, September 18, 2014(3 comments)
Angry White Men on the Right
To be white rather than black, male rather than female, straight rather than gay, meant -- in the old order -- to feel superior to most of the humanity around you. Then liberalism took that good feeling away.
Monday, September 15, 2014(9 comments)
# 2 The Republican Party's Extraordinary Pattern of Destructiveness
This force is expressing itself in many different ways--all of them destructive, all of them degrading of America, all of them ugly. It is important that we see the forest, and not just the trees, asking ourselves the question: "What should we call something that expresses itself in all these destructive and ugly ways?" Series: Press the Battle (8 Articles, 8667 views)
Tuesday, September 9, 2014(33 comments)
# 1 Many Liberals Don't Like the Idea of Battle, But the Alternative in America Today is Much Worse
This article is the first in a series, titled "Press the Battle," whose purpose is to get our national conversation to focus on the central realities of the crisis in today's America. This installments addresses the reluctance of many in Liberal America to engage in the kind of battle that has been made necessary by the rise on the right of an extraordinarily destructive political force. Series: Press the Battle (8 Articles, 8667 views)
Monday, April 14, 2014(31 comments)
Our Corrupt Supreme Court
With its recent decisions gutting campaign finance regulation, the Roberts Court represents the return of the disgraceful and hypocritical spirit of injustice that gave us the Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Bush v. Gore decisions. It is a "justice" -- the very opposite of justice -- that is merely "the advantage of the stronger."
Thursday, April 10, 2014(3 comments)
A Path to Democratic Victory this Fall
The Democrats should unite to run this year behind a pledge to enact a constitutional amendment that clearly and unambiguously not only overturns these recent decisions but also goes further to establish a system of public financing for all our federal elections.
Thursday, March 13, 2014(37 comments)
Koch Brothers Capitalism
"Koch Brothers Capitalism" is a phrase that by labeling a kind of capitalism, implies that there are other kinds of capitalism. And that means that capitalism doesn't have to take the terribly destructive form people like the Koch Brothers are giving it. The Koch Brothers name quickly conjures up the monstrous nature of what too much of American capitalism has become in our time
Sunday, February 23, 2014(84 comments)
It's a Mistake to Think of our Fellow Americans on the Right as "Stupid" People
What looks like "stupidity" is really something else. Often, it's a constellation of ways of thinking and feeling that's been learned. And it's a program that becomes operative specifically in the realm of politics. It's one of the ways in which the Spirit of Brokenness can such the power out of people in order to magnify its own power.
Thursday, February 6, 2014(13 comments)
Divided We Fall: Stop the Corporate Takeover of Our Democracy
Power is being shifted from the people to the corporate system. These so-called "persons" are so structured that it is inevitable their conduct will be sociopathic. The American people have been divided against each other by the forces they should be united in opposing. "Divided we Fall" must be replaced by "United we Stand."
Friday, November 22, 2013(1 comments)
A Half Century Ago Today: Here's My Story. What's Yours?
November 22, 1963, was bound to be an important day for me. But as it turned out, the shocking event of the day opened up for me --as for many millions of other Americans alive then -- a crack in the cosmos.
Sunday, October 20, 2013(14 comments)
The Dog that Refuses to Bark: A Stunning Clue about the Problem with American Media
What does it mean that two establishment authors, who finally say the obvious about something unusual, anti-democratic and destructive emerging on the political right, get ostracized by their friends in the mainstream media? This clue should be pushed to help expose part of the heart of darkness in America today.
Monday, October 14, 2013(8 comments)
Strike While the Iron is Hot
The GOP's recent terrible polling numbers show that millions of people are in the process of changing how they see the Republican Party. That picture is in flux, meaning that it is an opportune moment to mold it. After we come to the end of this "iron-heating" crisis, it will be time not to back off, but to continue to strike, exposing the profound defects of the GOP to a public ready to have its new perception solidified.
Saturday, October 12, 2013(16 comments)
The Power of Standing Up to Bullies
Obama these past few weeks, like Lincoln in 1861, has demonstrated that the best way to deal with bullies is to stake out the appropriate, defensible ground, and then stand that ground. The bullies, in their reckless over-reaching, will founder on the rock of your resolve.
Friday, October 11, 2013 Cutting One's Losses Comes Hard
Human psychology works in some other than rational ways. One of them makes it difficult to accept a loss for sure, so people keep trying to escape the loss, even if that makes for a bigger loss in the end. That's part of how to see the situation the Republicans are in, thanks to their own reckless and destructive choices. The problem is compounded by the Republicans' non-acceptance of democracy's "you win some, you lose some"
Thursday, October 10, 2013(1 comments)
Here's How to Keep Defeating These Republicans: Open Letter to Pres. Obama
As the Republicans try to find the least humiliating way to surrender on their blackmail ploys, Mr. President, I hope that you will resist the impulse to revert to Mr. Nice Guy. What America needs for you to do is to press the battle, and use every opportunity that presents itself to show the American people the destructive and dishonest force that the Republican Party has become. The people are ready to see that dark truth.
Monday, September 30, 2013(12 comments)
Fruit of the Same Tree: How to Understand the Tea Party
The Tea Party is not some alien thing grafted onto today's Republican Party. Sure there's a battle going on within that Party. But, more fundamentally, the nihilism and the craziness and the destructiveness that we see going on with the "extremists" within the Party represents a fuller flowering of what the Republican Party establishment sowed and cultivated.
Saturday, September 7, 2013(2 comments)
Bad Combination: Abuse of Power over Prisoners and America's Misguided "War on Drugs"
My wife April, with other climate change activists, recently committed an act of civil disobedience that brought her to experience some of the workings of the "system of justice" in Washington, D.C. I focus here on one part of her experience: that being arrested for ANYTHING in D.C. apparently strips an American citizen of the right against unreasonable search: despite no "probable cause," all prisoners must pass a drug test.
Thursday, August 15, 2013(31 comments)
Post Trayvon/Zimmerman Trial: Thoughts on Race in America
What is most disturbing in this whole sad affair is the complete lack of empathy, by many on the right, for the feelings that these Trayvon/Zimmerman events understandably brings up for black Americans. These events are a recapitulation of generations of traumatic history, from the era of slavery to the era of Jim Crow. How can people NOT understand, and feel compassion for, how this would feel? Do unto others...