Democratic Challenger In The 6th Congressional District Holds Town Hall

Councilman Bill Bestpitch talks with Andy Schmookler before last week’s town hall.

by Valerie Garner

Andy Schmookler is officially the 6th district nominee of the Democratic Party. He will run against either the entrenched incumbent Republican Bob Goodlate or his primary challenger Karen Kwiatkowski. Both Kwiatkowski and Schmookler reside in Shenandoah County.

The political newcomer is in “the truth business” as he told the 25 people gathered at Roanoke’s main library Saturday. He vowed to “always speak the truth.”

His dad once told him that his forthright straight talk was not conducive to his political aspirations. “You’re a person who says what he means and means what he says – that is not how politics work,” said his dad according to Schmookler.

Many award-winning books later – at age 65 – he says that he has not changed his commitment to the truth. Schmookler believes that “neither liberals nor conservatives have a monopoly on the truth – they only have pieces of the truth.”

The country is facing a very dark set of forces – “a degradation of our birthright as Americans,” he said. The degradation has become so serious to Schmookler that he couldn’t sit by any longer without taking action. He jumped into the political arena because the problem at its core was that the “lie was defeating the truth.”

Schmookler is convinced the only way to restore America and “defeat the lie” is through the political process. His concern is the widening gap of inequality between the wealthy and the middle class.

Schmookler also believes that the industry that is funding climate change denial knows full well what is true about climate change. “Half the people think it’s a hoax,” he said. “We’re like the Titanic moving full speed ahead toward the iceberg of climate change.”

Blaming Planned Parenthood for abortion is another “myth” according to Schmookler. He also says that there are some who attack higher education as “anti-American” for their lack of American history classes when in truth they offer dozens of courses. “[Republicans] are making war on every aspect of American society which opposes them.”

A Tea Party member in an email exchange told Schmookler that liberal Democrats want everybody to be dependent on the government, depriving people from thinking for themselves. “The people buy the lies and the Republicans prosper,” he said.

The founding fathers crafted a system that relied on an informed citizenry, explained Schmookler. “There has never been a time in American history where the lie has been so powerful. The lie is doing so good because the entire body of politics has failed. People are living in a bubble resisting intellectual thought.”

“Journalism has failed to inform the citizenry by not exposing the truth,” he said. “Rather than informing the citizenry with the truth that the world is round and not flat, the media just puts out opposing sides for readers to figure it out for themselves.”

He blames the Democratic Party for “the blindness and fear of confrontation that allows the lie to go unchallenged . . . It gives me no pleasure to blame the Democratic Party,” he said.

Schmookler is striving to model what he thinks the Democratic Party should be by “speaking the truth.”

“If the lie continues to prosper, democracy falls apart,” he said. “It is not enough for people to have access to information if they are being sequestered by propaganda that keeps them from the truth.”

As a candidate Schmookler said he is seeking opportunities to speak to the conservatives in the 6th district. “They are vulnerable,” he said. He wants to convey to conservatives that today’s Republicans are “demonstrably not conservatives.”

He explained that “conservatism is the commitment to the preservation and respect for the norms and morals codes and traditions that are handed down to us.” He hopes to convey to conservatives “how their true values do and do not get served.”

According to Schmookler, “No real patriot would want to hurt America. The Republicans used extortion to keep the Bush era tax cuts on the wealthy from expiring and did so again with the debt ceiling. No real conservative would delegitimize the President of the United States.”

“The Republicans are not about policy or finding common ground – they are about power and the fight,” he said. Adding that what they are doing “is not the spirit of Christianity.”