By Preston Knight
The way Andy Schmookler sees it, the race to represent the 6th District pits him against an irresistible force that has also been an immovable object.
Schmookler, an author from Shenandoah County, spoke to about 50 people at the Adona Music store in downtown Harrisonburg on Monday night. He is the Democratic challenger to 20-year incumbent Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, in November.
In those 10 two-year terms, Schmookler said, America has fallen victim to a "destructive force on the political right" that cares more about power and wealth than the people.
Republicans only tout the ideology of small government when it serves their interest, he said. For example, they attack President Barack Obama for his health care reform that mandates people to have a plan, although the GOP favored the same system in the 1990s, Schmookler said.
"We are up against a sick and broken spirit," he said. "It's not conservatism or patriotism [driving it]. It pretends to be those things. It's dishonesty not [looking out] for the greater good."
Schmookler, 66, is a newcomer to politics but a veteran of the issues that he says are corrupting America through his writings, teaching and speaking on local radio. In addition to the GOP's shortcomings, the media shares blame for not telling the full story of the country's "inequalities," Schmookler said.
Democrats are not immune to fault, either, he contends.
"Is there something about being a liberal that makes you a wimp?" Schmookler said.
His plan to turn the country around includes raising taxes on the richest Americans and creating a voucher system that controls how much money can be given to a candidate.
In its Citizens United decision of 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibits the government from limiting independent political spending by corporations and unions.
"It's the most disgraceful decision since Dred Scott [ruling that African-Americans had no rights of citizenship]," said Schmookler, who has raised about $800,000 less than Goodlatte during his campaign for Congress, according to online records.
Vouchers would solve the problem of large private donors influencing votes through donations, Schmookler said.
"The role of money in politics is simply an obscenity," he said.
Schmookler admits that, if elected, his plan will take a while to execute. But he's up for the challenge.
"We've got to awaken the whole country," he said. "This is a wounded country."