Virgil Goode has been a Democrat. Then an independent. Then a Republican. And now, a member of the Constitution Party’s executive committee — and, perhaps, its next candidate for president.
The change in political affiliations for the former Rocky Mount congressman and state senator aren’t that unusual. There are lots of Southern Democrats, for instance, who have joined the Republican ranks over the years. Usually they say they didn’t leave the party, the party left them.
What makes Goode’s change-of-parties so intriguing is that he appears to have changed some of his political philosophy along the way.
True, Goode has always been quite fiscally conservative. Some would even say a spendthrift. He became statewide news back in the 1970s when he refused to use the new furniture purchased for General Assembly members — and insisted on sitting on a Franklin County stump instead.
Later, he discovered some backroads that shaved 16 miles off his trip to Richmond — and insisted the state reimburse him LESS for travel.
On the other hand, while Goode could never have been called a liberal, he did once hold some views that liberals liked at the time. In the 1970s, he was a harsh critic of the power companies — which put him on the same side as Virginia’s liberal icon “Howlin’ Henry” Howell.
Shortly after his election to the state Senate in a 1973 special election, Goode gave a speech to the Martinsville-Henry County in which he appeared to endorse the idea of collective bargaining for public employees. In rooting around through our archives, I haven’t been able to find any news coverage of the speech — but it became a big issue in his 1975 re-election campaign.
His opponent at the time, lumber dealer Wilbur S. Doyle, positioned himself to the right of Goode and hammered away at the collective bargaining issue. Doyle was quoted in one Roanoke Times story saying Goode’s speech “stitred up a lot of discussion and he caught a lot of flak.”
Goode, in the same story, didn’t exactly disavow the speech. Instead, he said the question is “whether you want a senator who will give the ordinary citizen the same voice in government as the special moneyed few.” Specifically, he said he envisioned legislation which would allow teachers or other public employees to elect one of their own to meet with the local school board and have “input.”
Goode stressed he opposed allowing strikes by public employees, but his position was considerably to the left in the Virginia political climate at the time (or perhaps even now.) He also was endorsed that year by the state AFL-CIO, at a time when many Democrats tried to avoid the union label.
Goode also campaigned that year in support of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution.
He changed his position on that by 1980, saying he feared it would lead to women being subject to a military draft which “looks like it’s around the corner.”
However, Goode also backed the Martin Luther King Holiday at a time when that was still a controversial issue. And in 1985, he was an early supporter of Doug Wilder for lieutenant governor at a time when many Democrats were not keen on putting an African-American candidate (or at least that particular African-American candidate) on their ticket. He even gave a rousing speech on Wilder’s behalf at the state Democratic convention that year.
Now, Goode has not just left the Democratic Party to join the Republican Party, he’s left that party to join a party even further to the right.
I’ve never heard Goode talk about this philosophical journey he’s made — or maybe he doesn’t consider it a journey at all? But it would be fascinating, I’d think.
We’ll have more on Virgil Goode and his possible presidential bid on Sunday.
– Dwayne Yancey
MORE ON VIRGIL GOODE’S POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL BID:
* Goode said to be weighing run for president with Constitution Party
* Copy of Constitution Party resolution urging Goode to run for president
* Video of Goode at Constitution Party meetings
* Former state Sen. Madison Marye weighs in on Goode’s possible candidacy
* Could Goode-for-president help re-elect Obama? A look at the numbers