In an op/ed in the Roanoke Times, the iconoclastic fixture of southwest Virginia politics calls the new requirement a transparent effort to suppress Trump votes.
When State Sen. Virgil Goode was first elected to Congress representing Virginia’s 5th District in 1996, he did so as a Democrat. Four years later, after four years of isolation within the Democrats’ caucus because of his conservative stances on gun rights and abortion, Goode won re-election as an independent. At the time, he positioned himself as being “as independent as the people he serves.”
It was only in 2002 that Goode announced that he had joined the Republican Party. He won the GOP nomination, and was re-elected in 2002, 2004, and 2006, before being upended by Democrat Tom Perriello in the Democrat wave year of 2008.
Soon thereafter, exhibiting that characteristic independent streak, Goode joined the Constitution Party, and in 2012 served as that party’s nominee for President. Most recently, he’s garnered some attention for his outspoken support of Donald Trump.
His latest contribution is an op-ed in the Roanoke Times in which he talks about the Trump phenomenon. This is pretty helpful stuff for anyone still struggling to understand where Trump’s groundswell of support is coming from. The article is headlined, “Blue-collar Virginia and the Republican Party of Virginia,” and explains it thus:
There are few things the inhabitants of the swamp on the Potomac (Washington, D.C.) fear more than real Americans waking up to the fact that they have been played, and betrayed.
After several years of abuse at the hands of President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (now Paul Ryan) the American people have awakened to the fact that their government has been completely hijacked and is actively working to control them and take away their property, their liberty, and the futures of their children and grandchildren.
Enter Donald J. Trump. Polls show Trump’s message is resonating resoundingly with blue collar everyday Americans. You know, those who the beltway elites take for granted. These men and women hold to traditional American values. They still believe America is the greatest nation in all of history. They believe in God, self-reliance, hard work, family, and liberty.
In fact, these are the men and women who actually built America and have truly earned sweat equity in this nation for generations. And, these Americans are finding hope for an American restoration in the candidacy of Mr. Trump.
He has generated an excitement of real hope by actually giving them a voice, and forcing it to be heard. They do not see him as a leader, they don’t need a leader, they see him as the one person who is willing to literally risk everything, to represent them and their core beliefs. This is a powerful thing, and shakes the establishments of both parties to the core.
I get that, and can sympathize. As I’ve said before, Trump is a creature of the GOP’s own creation; rank-and-file Republicans are tired of empty promises and the same old politician-speak wrapped in false principle and bounded by obedience to political correctness. If nothing else, Trump deserves credit for smashing that paradigm.
Goode then takes the Republican Party of Virginia to task for the statement of affiliation to be required to vote in the party’s March 1 presidential primary. I beg to differ with him when he says it is a “transparent attempt” to serve K Street and the “DC Political Media Complex” by tending to exclude Trump voters. As several participants in this debate have pointed out repeatedly, this requirement arose in the same way it did in 2000, 2008, and 2012: as a sort of compromise settlement of the perennial question about conventions versus open primaries to select candidates. It had nothing to do with Trump. If it had been about Trump, it would likely have gone much further than merely asking for a statement that the voter is a Republican, and would have required some expression of an intent to support the GOP nominee.
Be that as it may, Goode’s op-ed is worth the read. The GOP has made decades worth of mistakes in alienating the voters who now gravitate to Trump. Goode’s analysis, and the lesson we must take away from Trump’s candidacy (whether he wins or loses) is that we must find a way to get those folks back inside the tent without changing our core principles.
In other words, we have to start telling the truth to voters, and our elected officials have to start governing like they campaign.