Independent Candidate For U.S. Senate Walks Into Pittsfield
The systems dynamics engineer is running for Congress in an effort to start pushing money out of politics.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Bruce Skarin specializes in understanding the dynamics of mechanical systems over time.
After the terrorist attacks of 2001, he adapted that model to understand the dynamics of political systems — revealing that the attacks were in the making for a long time and could have been prevented and predicted if the "big picture" had been carefully analyzed.
"It was that day when a lot of things were turned upside down for me. I wanted to see what I could do with these new skills I had in trying to take on big problems. I did a model on terrorism and I was able to simulate the 10 years leading up to September 11," Skarin said last week as he walked through downtown meeting with residents and collecting signatures for a run for the U.S. Senate.
"I was able to simulate how things were building up and how different pieces of the problem were trying to prevent terrorism from happening and how other pieces were reinforcing the likelihood."
Now, in 2014, he says the government system is setting the wrong course. Instead of complaining about the influence of money in politics, the lack of environmental protections and a poor education system, Skarin has already announced his intention to challenge U.S. Sen. Edward Markey.
"Two years ago, when my second son was born, I was getting increasingly concerned with the future we're creating right now," he said. "As a simulation scientist, I understand how much inertia problems like national debt, climate change, a stagnant economy have. They have huge amounts of inertia that when the problems are starting to brew, it might not seem so bad. But by the time the really bad stuff starts happening, it is really hard to change."
Basically, Skarin believes Congress isn't moving fast enough the address coming issues. And, the main reason behind that is because of the influence large companies have over the elected officials.
"I'm independent because I believe both parties are blowing it. Neither one of them understand what the daily challenges are for most people," Skarin said. "I think the Washington elites are very much disconnected to the people they are supposed to represent."
For example, when it comes to global warming, he says Congress depends so much on the campaign donations from energy companies that it prevents any energy policy that will curb the issue.
Another example Skarin used is that in the future, vehicles and transportation will move to automatic systems — cutting down on car accidents. However, the insurance and health care industries benefit greatly from them. Instead of seeing he issue before it arises and starting to plan a future around those changes, Congress is swayed by the businesses that donate.
"I'd say that is the first issue. Until we can effectively deal with that, which is why I am running a citizen funded campaign and why I want to spend more of my time and energy connecting with people as opposed to raising money," he said.
In the current trajectory, money is growing in influence over public policy, he said. He wants to work toward removing that influence and said that then that economic markets can compete fairly, boosting the economy.
"It has gotten more and more expensive to run elections because people have gotten less and less interested in what's going on. They don't buy it anymore," he said. "It is reinforcing because the more money they raise, the more disgusted people get. The more disgusted people get, the more they tune out. The more they tune out, the more they have to spend to hit those prime time slots."
Skarin is walking eight to 20 miles a day through Massachusetts towns. He's meeting people, talking politics and having face-to-face conversations.
"I feel this is the right way to do it. I won't raise as much money as Markey. But he can't get out here and do this," Skarin said. "It isn't supposed to be about the money or running attack ads."
The 37-year-old Milbury man characterizes his political believes as taking the "best parts" of Republican Democratic platforms. While he sides with Republicans when it comes to fiscal conservative and individual responsibility principals, he sides with the Democrats when it comes to social justice issues.
"They're heart is in the right place but they don't really understand how to create sustainable solutions," he said of Democrats, taking the minimum wage debate as an example of a temporary fix and then the U.S. debt as unsustainable.
He also is placing a high priority on revamping the national education system to prepare for the advancement of technology.
"We can have a very forward thinking strategy," he said.