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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. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is WHAT WE'RE UP AGAINST. His previous books include The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution, for which he was awarded the Erik H. Erikson prize by the International Society for Political Psychology.
A Better Human Story: #11-- Humankind as Tragic Hero
The story of the creature that breaks out of its biologically-evolved niche moves forward with an inevitability characteristic of tragic drama. Biological evolution -- which chooses life over death -- lays the foundation for the good. The breakout from that order into civilization inevitably creates a disorder transmitted through the system, working like what's always been called "evil." A drama in three acts that unfold here.
Friday, October 6, 2017
A Better Human Story # 9-- Understanding Evil
In our times, a destructive force has arisen quite visibly in the American power structure. Trump is of course part of it, but he is also a symptom and product of what has been emerging on the right for years. Liberal America has been blind to this bigger picture-- a blindness that has enabled that force to gain power. Here's a way of understanding "evil": a coherent force that spreads a pattern of brokenness-- call it "evil."
Wednesday, August 16, 2017(31 comments)
The Why of "White Supremacy"
The profound human brokenness represented by "white supremacy" can be seen in both moral-spiritual and historical perspectives.
Thursday, July 6, 2017(2 comments)
Better Human Story # 5-- The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution
When humankind broke out of the niche in which our species had evolved biologically, and thus began to create a new kind of life form, we inadvertently created also a new kind of disorder. And the consequence of that disorder was -- and has been -- that the evolution of civilization has inevitably been driven in a direction that humanity did not choose but could not stop: driven by a selection for the ways of power.
Thursday, June 29, 2017(2 comments)
Malign Alignment: How an Alliance of America's Darkest Forces Made the GOP Break Bad
For a hundred years, the political force that had served the Slave Power and the force that was the instrument of the corporate money power had been opposed to each other along partisan lines. But then, beginning with Nixon's "Southern Strategy," the two became allies, as the Solid Democratic South became the Solid Republican South. The two darkest forces in America then turned the GOP into the force of darkness we see today.
Saturday, June 17, 2017(9 comments)
A Better Human Story #4-- Humankind's Perilous Step into Terra Incognita: The Rise of Civilization
If we look back at history, we take civilization for granted, and we -- mistakenly -- conclude that the history of civilization represents human nature writ large. But if we look at the rise of civilization in the perspective of the almost 4 billion year evolution of life on earth, we see that humankind stumbled into an unprecedented and impossible situation we did not choose and could not avoid, dictating our destiny.
Friday, May 26, 2017(2 comments)
The Sacred Space of Lovers (Third in the Series, "A Better Human Story")
This third entry in the series "A Better Human Story" builds upon the previous discussion of how evolution crafts us to find fulfillment in what has been life-serving, and how fulfillment is the only sensible basis for "value." Here, "the sacred space of lovers" is explored-- a place of deep fulfillment that has been central to the perpetuation of our kind.
Sunday, May 7, 2017(3 comments)
How "the Good" Emerges Out of Evolution (Second in the Series, "A Better Human Story")
Many who arrive at their beliefs in a wholly secular and rational way -- believing what is shown by evidence processed by reason -- have concluded that "value" is not really "real," that one cannot get from "is" to "ought," that issues of right and wrong or good and evil are merely matters of opinion. Such conclusions are non sequiturs. This piece shows how "value" that is very real EMERGED out of the evolutionary process.
Thursday, April 27, 2017(20 comments)
A Better Human Story (First in a Series)
Would you be interested in hearing about a way of understanding our humanity, and the story of our species on this planet, that
" Explains much about the overall trajectory of human history; and,
" Offers insight into why our history has been as tormented and destructive as it has been;
" Presents a plausible way of comprehending the nature, source, and modus operandi of what has tradtionally been called evil?(And more)
Thursday, January 12, 2017(12 comments)
A Global Counter to the Global Rise of Fascism
Trump's rise to the presidency in the United States is part of a larger global trend toward what might be called "The Rule of the Thug" or, as I'd propose, "The Rise of Fascism" in various democratic, or once-democratic, nations. This dark global trend calls for not only political struggle at the national level, but alsoo a global movement to combat it. This article describes what such a movement might most effectively do.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
"Seek Peace While Preparing for War": A Strategy for the Outset of the Trump Era
In this extremely dangerous moment in our nation's history, we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to seek best-case scenarios with the new president, rather than merely assuming that all that we fear will come to pass. Because we have good reason to fear the worst, we also need to prepare to fight What this calls for is moves that simultaneously test for the possibility of peace, and that also position us well for battle.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016(6 comments)
"Seek Peace While Preparing for War": Going to/after Trump about Climate Change
Here is the first application of the overall strategy -- develop moves toward/against Trump -- that are apt both for attaining a positive outcome and for framing the battle, if it must be fought, advantageously for our side. Here it is applied to that most crucial issue: meeting the challenge of climate change (regarding which all the signs thus far from Trump are deeply troubling).
Brexit: A Setback in One of Humankind's Most Important Projects
If we look at what provided the initial impetus for the unification of Europe, we can see why what the Europeans have attempted to do over the past several generations is something that prudence -- indeed possibly human survival -- requires that civilization as a whole attempt to do in the next century or two.
Monday, June 27, 2016(2 comments)
Any Self-Respecting Supreme Court Would Have Struck Down the Texas Abortion Law
The Texas law was clearly an attack on the authority of the Supreme Court. That alone should be enough for a Supreme Court justice -- even one who doesn't agree with what the Court has previously said about the right to an abortion -- to strike down that law. (But only Kennedy, of the four "conservative" Supremes, put the integrity of our constitutional system ahead of their partisan policy position.)
Tuesday, June 21, 2016(10 comments)
Did the Spirit of Donald Trump Help Assassinate Jo Cox in Britain Last Week?
Thomas Mair pulled the trigger. But like all human actions, Mair's lethal attack took place in a context. There are quite plausible ways by which the rise of Donald Trump, with his message of bigotry, in the United States, could have contributed to pushing the bigoted Mair over the edge into assassinating the pro-EU member of Parliament, Jo Cox.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016(1 comments)
I Was Wrong About Trump
A piece appearing in newspapers in my conservative congressional district in Virginia: Previously, I thought Donald Trump was an accomplished actor, who could choose what role to play to achieve his purposes. Now it seems I was wrong. The needless, counterproductive fights he has picked lately,show that rather than being in control of his belligerence, Trump is controlled by it.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016(13 comments)
A Win-Win Way for Bernie to Lead Now
A strategy for Bernie that should be liked both by those who are still hoping for Bernie to get the nomination and those who want Bernie to strengthen the Democratic cause for the fall campaign, or at least stop weakening it. It is a good way for Bernie to make a case for himself. And it sets the stage for a strong party after the convention, no matter who is the nominee.
Monday, May 23, 2016(24 comments)
Are We on the Democratic Side Going to Blow It Again?
The Democratic side has a history of not seeing the battlefield well, and of either fighting the wrong battle or fighting the right one weakly. In recent weeks, this unfortunate pattern has been repeated, with a squandered opportunity to make the most of a moment when Trump and the GOP could have been weakened by a unifed Democratic voice delivering the right message to the Republican world and to the nation.
Sunday, May 22, 2016(1 comments)
Why Trump's Lies and Transgressions Appeal to His Followers
Donald Trump breaks the rules. For his followers, that's part of his appeal. Trump specializes in the lie. That, too, draws his followers to him.
That's because Trump's movement is an appeal to the authoritarian personality, which is built around a fundamental lie, and which is, at its root, a rebellion against the order it pretends to serve.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016(10 comments)
What Should a Morally Responsible Republican Do Now?
This article, which is appearing in newspapers in my conservative congressional District in Virginia, is addressed "to those Republicans who have regarded Mr. Trump unfavorably because they saw him as lacking the character and temperament necessary for our nation's highest office." Having seen what they've seen, I ask, can you vote for Trump. And then I deal with reasons they may have for doing so.
Monday, May 16, 2016(14 comments)
This Precedent Must Not Stand: New Thoughts on the Crisis over the Supreme Court Vacancy
Two adventures I have had in the two days since I posted "How the President Can Break the Impasse on the Supreme Court Vacancy." One involves thinking like a detective about Mitch McConnell's swift response to Scalia's death. Another concerns how politics seems to dictate supposedly "constitutional judgments." And then, in conclusion, why it is of great importance that this obstruction of the process go to the Supremes.
Saturday, May 14, 2016(2 comments)
How Obama Can Break the Impasse on the Supreme Court Vacancy
The status quo is working for the Republicans, creating a real possibility that they will be rewarded for their disgraceful abuse of the Constitution to stonewall the process of appointing a Justice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. Fortunately, there's something the President can do to breakthrough the impasse the Republicans have created.
Thursday, May 12, 2016(4 comments)
What I Think Paul Ryan Is Trying to Do
Paul Ryan is in a difficult position, given that the Republicans are nominating a problem candidate in Donald Trump AND that Paul Ryan wants to become president himself some day, perhaps as early as 2020. What we see is a clever politician trying to navigate his way through a landscape with pits on both sides.
Thursday, May 5, 2016(15 comments)
An "Intensity Gap": The Nation's Problem Crystallized
It is reported that there is more passion on among Republican activists to support the blockade against any nominee from President Obama to fill the Supreme Court vacancy than there is on the liberal side to insist that the confirmation process be conducted in accordance with America's traditional norms. In that "intensity gap," we find crystallized part of the heart of America's political sickness.
Friday, April 29, 2016(1 comments)
The GOP and the Constitution: The Grotesque Mismatch Between Walk and Talk
The GOP is loud in its claims to be defenders of the Constitution, while at the same time assaulting the Constitution in ways unprecedented in American history. One form of brokenness in the human world is when people act the opposite of their claimed values and principles, marching off under the most noble of banners to do ignoble things.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016(7 comments)
Trump's Rise: Not just a Threat but an Opportunity
The threat is that Donald Trump could become president of the United States. The opportunity is to use Trump to bring down the GOP in general. For Trump is not just something that happened to the GOP: his being the frontrunner is a manifestation of the sickness the Republicans have been fostering in their base for a generation.
Monday, April 25, 2016(24 comments)
Isn't It Obvious Hillary and Bernie Should Be Campaigning Against the Republicans?
We voters don't need to know which candidate is better at lacerating the other. We need the one who can best defeat the real roadblocks to progress. The differences between H and B on the issues won't matter unless they can get the obstructionists out of the way. With every political incentive to take on the GOP, why aren't they pounding the Rs the way Elizabeth Warren is doing?
Monday, April 18, 2016
One Glimpse of Liberal America's Role in Enabling the Right
Taking off, here, from an article about the success of right-wing lies. The problem isn't that we're spending too much attention on liars like Trump, but that we're spending the wrong kind of attention. The right kind of attention would be directing people to see the profound dishonesty of the right. Liberals need to learn how to go on the attack, and learn how to attack so that power flows away from the liars.
Saturday, April 16, 2016(10 comments)
Bernie, It's Not "the Billionaire Class" You Need to Defeat But Its GOP Minions
A political leader succeeds by overcoming opposing political forces. Bernie calls out "the billionaire class" and "giant corporations," but his political revolution can succeed only if the electorate is educated to understand which individuals and parties -- which appear on the ballot -- are the agents of the plutocracy. Bernie should shift his rhetoric to educate the public about that.
Thursday, April 14, 2016(3 comments)
Possible Scenarios for the GOP Convention in Cleveland in July
This lays out the various possible paths the Republican nominating process might take at the convention, assigning probabilities based on the collective wisdom registered in the political futures markets. None of the possible paths are entirely clear, and all of them are fraught with dangers to the Republican Party.
Monday, April 11, 2016(3 comments)
Bernie and Hillary, Give Us the Campaign We Need
The differences between Bernie and Hillary are important. But there are two extraordinary national circumstances that make those differences way less important than that whoever becomes the Democratic nominee win the presidency in November. We need to have them conduct their campaigns with that urgent priority uppermost in their minds. That means changing the nature of their competition to "Who's best at taking down the GOP?"
Sunday, April 10, 2016(14 comments)
Should President Obama "appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing?"
An op/ed in the Washington Post makes a most intriguing case for the idea that if the Senate refuses to act on the nomination of Merrick Garland, it can be said to have "waived" its right to be included in the process, and that the President would therefore at some point be entitled to make the appointment on his own. I find the argument appealing, and ask for others to give their view of the case made in that Post op/ed.
Friday, April 1, 2016(11 comments)
How Bernie Should Push His "New York Values" (in the New York Primary)
The issue of "New York values" has already arisen in this presidential season. That provides an opening for Bernie to pitch himself to New Yorkers by describing how his most important political values grew out of the cultural milieu in which he grew up in New York. In this way, he can seize some of the "home field advantage" most think that Hillary Clinton enjoys in the state to which she came belatedly and served as Senator.
Why Bernie Should Draw Right-Wing Fire Now
To get the nomination, Bernie needs to demonstrate to the superdelegates that he is their best bet for victory. To accomplish that, Bernie should demonstrate BEFORE the convention that he can successfully parry the low-blow right-wing attacks that would come his way in a general election. This gives him a second good reason to take on Trump and the GOP now in order to bolster his case for the nomination.
Saturday, March 26, 2016(3 comments)
Will Trump Be Able to Reverse His Unfavorables?
Is Trump the capable actor he sometimes seems, who might be able to exploit the short memories of the American people, as he pivots toward the general election? Or is he so compelled by his insecurities and ego needs that he will continually remind the perhaps two-thirds of Americans who regard him unfavorably why they don't want him to be their president?
Who Is the Better Bet to Beat Trump, Hillary or Bernie?
I've encountered many who think it's crystal clear that Hillary is the more electable candidate. Could be, but maybe not. Here are some reasons for thinking that Bernie might be the better bet for avoiding having a President Trump.
Monday, March 7, 2016(9 comments)
How the GOP's Spirit of Strife Has Damaged the Nation
[Running in newspapers in my conservative congressional district in VA] It only takes one of our major political parties to be dedicated to the idea of politics as war, and to consistently choose conflict over cooperation, to make America's political system dysfunctional. For a whole generation now, the GOP has insisted on conflict, and badly crippled our nation's ability to deal constructively with the challenges it faces.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Warped Views of President Obama Push "Conservatives" Into Bizarre, Unconstitutional Territory
This piece is written to the conservatives of my part of Virginia, where it is appearing in newspapers. It asks how it is that people who call themselves "conservative" support leaders who trample on our political traditions, as with the current unprecedented move of Senate Republicans to block ANY possible Supreme Court nominee from the president. It answers that question in terms that are challenging to today's GOP base.
Monday, February 29, 2016(4 comments)
The Death of Scalia as Biblical Morality Tale from a 1950s Movie
The unfolding of events -- the Supreme Court's putting a stay on the Clean Power Plan, the death of Scalia, and the fight that the GOP has picked since over the filling of the Court's vacancy -- form a narrative that could be made into a biblical tale like movies used to tell during the era of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and BEN HUR.
Friday, February 26, 2016(7 comments)
The Speech President Obama Should Give in Announcing His Nominee
The President needs to do more than just put forward a nominee, introducing him/her to the nation, as presidents usually do. This is an unusual situation calling for an unusual announcing speech. The Republicans have declared war on the President -- and the sense of the Constitution, and the good of the nation --yet again, this time with the control of the Court at stake. The president needs to join and frame that battle thus:
Tuesday, February 23, 2016(8 comments)
They've Given Us a Great Battlefield. Let's Mass for the Battle!
The Republicans declared war with their declaration of unwillingness to consider anyone nominated by President Obama to fill the vacancy on the Court. In this, they have given us a battlefield we should welcome, and that warrants bringing all our forces to bear: 1) the stakes are very high, and 2) this provides an apt way of exposing a whole world of Republican darkness.
Monday, February 22, 2016(3 comments)
If I Were Bernie, Here's the Speech I'd Give Now
Democratic primary voters have a choice. Which is the better choice depends on what they believe is possible to achieve? Do we need to accept the basic status quo about the distribution of power in America? Or is a political revolution possible?
Thursday, February 18, 2016(20 comments)
Hey Republicans! We Won't Stand for Your Stealing What We Won Fair and Square
Millions of people --on left and right-- understand that part of what is at stake in a presidential election is whose guy will get to shape the Court if a vacancy arises. We who worked to get President Obama re-elected in 2012 won the right to have our guy fill such a vacancy. Accepting that sometimes you lose is at the heart of our constitutional order. You lost, and Obama's naming a replacement is one result. Get over it.
Monday, February 15, 2016(3 comments)
How GOP Obstruction of Scalia's Replacement Could Backfire
Somebody on Slate wrote the piece I was planning to write, about how the Republicans' apparent choice to stonewall any nomination from the president may be a major mistake for them. But that Slate piece has one point to which I object, and fails to make another point I think is important.
Monday, February 8, 2016(44 comments)
A Much Better Way for Hillary and Bernie to Compete
Rather than competing like boxers -- against each other -- they should compete like contestants in a talent show. Or like members of a team, each wanting to be MVP. And they should work together to take power away from those who we know will stand in the way of any Democratic president making progress toward any of the accomplishments that either Bernie or Hillary are calling for.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016(1 comments)
Bernie, Get the Job by Doing the Job--Now!
THe "realists" say the political revolution you say we need is impossible. The good news is that you can prove them wrong and you don't have to wait to be president to do it.
In the Madness of the Right, Reality is for Losers
For years, the right has been engaged in a war on reality. Now the base is fully caught up in this form of madness. Hence the rage at the Republican leaders for not accomplishing the clearly impossible. And the enthusiasm for Trump, who sells patent nonsense. Underlying this denial of reality is a profound form of human brokenness: the lust for power, a refusal to bow to anyone or anything, even inescapable reality.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Cry the Benighted Country: What's Gone Wrong in America
(This is the op/ed I've written for the purpose of launching my new book.)
In every society, both constructive and destructive forces are always at work. But the balance of power between these forces is not constant. Many Americans sense that there has been in recent times an adverse shift in that balance in our nation in recent years. Here's how the various components of the American body politic reflect that degradation.
Monday, November 2, 2015(1 comments)
Why Climate Change Should be a Conservative Issue
Historically, one of the basic insights of conservatism has been that it is often dangerous to disrupt the established order, and that it is a responsibility to preserve one's heritage and pass it down intact to the next generation. In this piece -- one of a series I've published as op/eds in my conservative area in Virginia -- I argue that any true conservative should know we must protect the stability of earth's climate.
Why We're All Obliged to Help the Democrats Prevail
For years, there's been a running point of contention here on opednews between me and some other here on this point: should we support the Democratic Party, with all its defects, against today's Republican Party? I say yes, and here I offer what seems to me an airtight case for my position.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015(1 comments)
We Need a Different National Conversation
We Americans lurch, amazed, from one unprecedented -- and damaging -- political spectacle to another. About each,in turn, we get all abuzz. Surely a whole series of developments in our nation's power system that are both unprecedented and damaging must indicate that something new and destructive has arisen in the country. And surely that should sound a powerful alarm and become a focus of our national conversation.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015(7 comments)
Two Problems with Anti-Abortion Politics
Even if the anti-abortion activists are right about the moral seriousness of abortion, they are wrong in what they are doing with this issue in our nation's politics.
Thursday, September 17, 2015(8 comments)
The Strange Political Culture of Today's GOP
In a political culture suitable for a healthy democracy, a party will accept that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. In a healthy political culture, those leaders whose decisions accomplish nothing or even lead to disaster will be repudiated. The political culture of today's Republican Party is strange -- and destructive -- in both respects.