10/08/2012 11:46 am ET Updated Dec 08, 2012

The Fringe Candidate Who Could Cost Mitt Romney the Presidency

If he cares at all about the future of his own country, Virgil Goode, the fringe Constitution Party nominee for president needs to drop out of the race and endorse Mitt Romney. Doing so will make his candidacy -- and legacy -- a lot more valuable than staying on the ballot. Indeed, its probably necessary if the country is likely to move in the rightward direction Goode says he favors.

Goode is, to say the least, a curious character. First entering political life in the Virginia legislature as a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, tobacco, and gun rights, he compiled a record that put him on the starboard side of the Democratic Party. (Not terribly unusual for someone from a pretty conservative Southern Virginia District.) In Congress, he bucked his caucus regularly from his first election in 1996 and eventually left the Democratic Party to be an independent in 2002 and Republican in 2004. His votes were reliably conservative in both parties but not way outside of the mainstream.

But the Constitution Party platform is, well, how to put it... absolutely mad. Putting aside explicit references to Jesus Christ and a promise to reinstate sodomy laws, ban pornography and ignore the Roe v. Wade decision that forced legal abortion on all states, the platform also calls to basically destroy the entire economy. In particular, the Constitution Party wants to abolish the patent and trademark office, force the closing of all current banks, abolish the U.S. dollar, and fund the government mostly through huge tariffs on foreign trade. It also has odd provisions that read like a list of conservative grievances of yesteryear: the Panama Canal treaties (signed more than 30 years ago and fully in force for almost a decade and half) and wage and price controls (last imposed more than 40 years ago) get singled out for particular abuse. And, oh yes, Goode, like his party, basically wants to deport almost all immigrants.

Much as mass support for this three-bricks shy of a load platform would confirm left-wing conspiracy theories about the political right's real agenda, it isn't happening in most places. The only national poll from a major organization that I could find which mentions him by name, put Goode at less than half of one percent of the vote. So far, he's raised less than $200,000. Even if, say, Warren Buffett were suddenly to fund a Goode backing Super PAC, he still couldn't win as Goode doesn't even have ballot status in most states.

Unfortunately for members of Goode's former party, this lack of support may not be enough to stop him from impacting the election. Goode held political office in Virginia and has 13 general elections there. In part of the state he has real name recognition, it's quite possible that conservatives angry with various aspects of Romney's campaign could well cast some votes for him. And, in a swing state that's going to be pivotal in the elections, Goode has a real chance of playing a spoiler and returning Barack Obama to the White House.

And this really matters. With Ohio almost certain to go for Obama, there's simply no presidential map where Romney can win without winning in Virginia. If even a small ten percent of Goode's former constituents vote for him, that would almost certainly deliver the state of Virginia to Obama.
Goode has said that he relishes in playing the spoiler and the chances that he'll drop out are close to zero. But, as someone who has so long played in actual mainstream politics before moving over to the fringe, he has to know that sometimes the future of the country is more important than whatever service being in front of a microphone on the ballot might do for his own ego. And that's why Virgil Goode needs to drop out of the race for the presidency.