Andy Schmookler: More on People Power

Hi again, Chris.  With your encouragement, I am responding again to your recent writings telling your readers, in so many words, that I can’t win.  You write:

“How does Schmookler, the Sixth District Democratic Party congressional nominee, think he will be able to compete in a race against an incumbent with a 10-1 money advantage?  People Power…Sorry, Andy, but it just don’t happen that way. If you want to have any chance of competing on Election Day, it takes money.”

I see two problems here.

First, there’s the question of what’s true.  “It just doesn’t happen that way” is just too absolute.  If you said, “It usually doesn’t happen that way,” you’d be on firm ground.  Even if you said, “Those occasions that don’t happen that way are extraordinary,” you’d be fine.

One could also say, with as much truth: “It just doesn’t happen that a woman writes a novel that kindles such a powerful fire in the hearts of many of her countrymen that it helps bring the nation’s central conflict to a head.”  But it did, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

One could say, “It just doesn’t happen that the suicide of an obscure young man in a minor nation ignites a fire that leads in a short time to upheavals that topple several long-standing dictatorships in his part of the world.” But that’s what happened with the Arab spring.

One could say, “It just doesn’t happen that an unknown lawyer, employing strategies of truth and non-violence, can liberate his country from the world’s biggest empire.” But that’s what Gandhi accomplished in India.

Extraordinary things do happen. Of course, extraordinary occurrences are rare. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be extraordinary.  But they do happen, and their happening is important to the course of history.

So “Sorry, Andy, but it just don’t happen that way” does not do justice to human possibilities. It ignores the significant reality that –sometimes– a message and a strategy can ignite a fire in the human spirit that overcomes the obvious and usually dominant powers of the world.  Powers like empires and dictatorships and the usually irresistible role of money in elections.

My message and my strategy are an attempt to kindle such a fire. I regard it as worth turning my life upside down because there’s so much at stake, and because what might be accomplished is so important:  not just the winning of a single congressional seat but also the sending of much-needed messages to both political parties.

To the Republicans, my winning – or perhaps even my making a surprisingly strong showing — would send a message that they’d better shape up or the American people will ship them out.  And to the Democrats, it would send a message that standing and fighting boldly for the American people, using the truth as the weapon, is not only what the country needs from them but is also a recipe for political success.

Let me finish by expressing my second reservation about your “it just don’t happen that way” message. If you accept that an extraordinary scenario is not the same as an impossible scenario, and if you accept the basic validity of what I’ve been saying about the profound crisis that now besets our beloved country, why choose to emphasize the negative?

Why orient your readers toward the likelihood of failure rather than the possibility of success?

Does not the idea that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness also suggest that it is better to fan the embers of hope than to smother them?

The attitude of “It can’t be done” pretty well assures it won’t be done. When something must be done –like defeating the destructive force that is now dominating American politics—we need a different attitude.  Not declaring it can’t be done, but seeking to discover how it can be done.

That’s what my campaign is attempting to do.  And I’ve launched a tour of events in our District I call “Making the Rounds,” in an attempt to build our strength as a political community of people to win this election and help turn our country’s current dangerous political dynamic around.

(See http://andyschmooklerforcongress.com/making-the-rounds-meaningful-conversation-with-the-voters/ )

I hope you will encourage your readers to come to the next such event.  It’s Tuesday evening, July 31, in Staunton at the Main Library at 1 Churchville Avenue at 7 p.m.  Let’s come together to see if we can tap into that fire of the spirit that we’ll need if People Power is to be able to defeat the Money Power.

Andy Schmookler is the Sixth District Democratic Party congressional nominee.

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