In Frank Capra's classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, everyman Jefferson Smith finds himself in the hallowed halls of Congress, hoping to make a difference in the lives of his fellow citizens.
David Langheier, DC, hopes to follow in Jimmy Stewart's memorable character's footsteps and head to Washington as the Republican representative for the 9th Congressional District in Florida. Recently, Dr. Langheier spoke with Dynamic Chiropractic about his campaign and what he hopes to accomplish if elected.
Dynamic Chiropractic (DC): What is your motivation for running for Congress, particularly from a chiropractic perspective?
David Langheier (DL): There are problems in Washington that career politicians just aren't addressing. As a small businessman, I know what the problems are and how they affect us, and I think what we really need to get to is a culture of representative government, not a culture of insider beltway trading. I think the people of the 9th District deserve strong leadership from a person who's raised his family here, seen patients here for 22 years and developed several successful small businesses here. And I believe that individual freedom, with personal responsibility, is the key to success. Despite the culture of corruption in Washington, we need to go outside the beltway and offer people fresh ideas and perspectives.
As a congressional run relates to chiropractic, I think the biggest thing is really uniting the profession. We're a profession of 80,000 people and we've never had a chiropractor elected to Congress. I think we need to unite the profession so they get behind a campaign to do this. And I think it affects chiropractic and health care as determined at the federal level. We've had a lot of success at the state level, but it really comes down to the federal level and we haven't had the input that we need. The Veterans Administration and Department of Defense, Medicare, and all of the programs that are federally controlled and regulated, they just really set the benchmark for how health care is delivered. All the things to be fully integrated into the mainstream of health care have to come from the federal level, and it's essential for the success of the chiropractic practice and for chiropractic in general.
DC: How has the chiropractic community supported your campaign efforts thus far?
DL: I've had the presidents of National College of Chiropractic and Life Chiropractic College personally lend their support to my campaign, as well as the president of the Florida Chiropractic Association, numerous American Chiropractic Association delegates, and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of chiropractors around the country.
DC: Do you have a primary election in your district?
DL: Yes, but the primary election will [essentially] be the election, because it's a republican district; whoever wins the primary most likely will win the general election.
DC: Tell us what sets you apart from your opponent.
DL: Basically, my opponent is a termed, career politician who has not had to develop his own personal business and contacts within the community. I'm what you would call a self-made man, and I've had to go ahead and develop from the ground up. I've done it on my own. And I think by that experience - raising my children in this area, treating patients in this community for 22 years and developing successful small businesses here - that process of doing all that and paving your own way, I think, really makes a difference. [It's about] being strong and knowing how to make decisions, and making the right decisions based on what's good for people; it's about knowing how things actually work vs. being part of a system in which you're sort of pushed along and not really answering to specific customers, people or patients, but just kind of following the direction someone else is giving you.
DC: If elected, what is your legislative agenda? In what legislative areas do you hope to have the biggest impact, particularly as they relate to the chiropractic profession?
DL: I feel that what we have to do is really concentrate on making sure the government helps businesses, not hurts businesses. Most people work in small businesses and most jobs are created by small businesses. We need to eliminate any burden, whether taxation or regulation, on those businesses to help a successful, strong economy continue. That's very important. I think we need to go ahead and continue with the process of making sure we, as Americans, continue to develop our individual freedoms and liberties, along with personal responsibility, and avoid being trapped into situations in which the government makes the decisions for us. I think we need to be very careful about that. And I think what we also need to do is be aware of not having a government that is so omnipresent that people feel they can't become involved, make decisions and use free thinking. [Those are] the American ideals that we've fought for, for over 200 years.
DC: You've mentioned health care several times; obviously, it's becoming an increasingly important issue for people of any age. Coming from a chiropractic background, you have an interesting perspective on how to reduce health care costs.
DL: Well, I think from a chiropractic perspective, one of the things I think we need is physician parity, meaning if you are legally allowed to do it, you should be able to do it. And I think we need fee parity as well, which is what I was talking about earlier, with integration into the systems. And I think that we need to be inclusive: Chiropractic needs to be included in all different [federal health care programs]. I think that will reduce costs because we are more cost-effective in the way we treat and we have fewer problems with the treatment that we give than other health care professions typically do.
I think that at the same time, we're not being anti-medicine, because I have a lot of support from medical doctors. It's more about inclusion than anything else. I think unity of the profession within its own ranks and unity within the health care ranks are most important; we really need to get that done. We have the shadow of inclusion in many of these programs, but it's in the actual day-to-day operation where we fall down.
DC: If elected, what role will you maintain with the Florida Chiropractic Association and chiropractic organizations/groups in general?
DL: My position and interest in chiropractic - having treated patients for 22 years, having been involved in chiropractic in school and practice for 26 years, having a father who was a chiropractor and a brother who's a chiropractor, a grandfather who was a surgeon, a mother who was a librarian at the chiropractic school I attended, and cousins who are medical doctors - I'm pretty involved with the medical and chiropractic community. I'm very concerned with chiropractic issues because I think chiropractic represents the important things that we were talking about as far as individual freedom and personal responsibility. I think that's an area in which if people are given a choice (some of that choice was eliminated with managed care and the HMOs) they would pick chiropractic care, and chiropractic care, given a choice, could go ahead and make significant differences in all applications of our society if it was properly integrated. And I believe it would save costs and improve the quality of care. Patient satisfaction in chiropractic is always much higher than other compared samples of care.
DC: Thank you.
Editor's note: To learn more about Dr. David Langheier's campaign, please visit www.godave06.com or contact him by e-mail: .
Interview by Kathryn Feather