I posted a copy of this letter at Independent Political Report. I am reposting it here not because I agree with the main premise, but because I disagree with it. I plan a long rebuttle because this (the relative importance of the qualifications of third party candidates) is an important subject that comes up every four years. I’ll let y’all digest the letter while I write my rebuttal. The orginal letter can be found here.
Dear Members of the Constitution Party,
In two days, I will attend the Constitution Party Presidential Debate in Lansing, Michigan. I am excited for the opportunity to see the candidates in action, going head-to-head in debating the important issues of the day. I also hope to have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the candidates about the opportunities this year’s Presidential election offers to the Constitution Party.
And make no mistake: you have been offered a HUGE opportunity this year by the GOP’s decision to, in all likelihood, nominate Mitt Romney as its Presidential nominee. People like me – independent pro-life conservatives who believe in the Constitution, but who have traditionally held our noses and voted for the GOP – have had enough, especially with the GOP’s nomination of easily the least conservative (i.e. most liberal) candidate since Gerald Ford, and are looking to cast our votes for someone we can believe in, even if that means casting a 3rd party vote for President for the first time ever.
Because of the stakes involved in this election, this has not been an easy decision for me (although I made up my mind many years ago that I would NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, EVER vote for Mitt Romney) and, I suspect, for many other like-minded conservatives who have decided they cannot vote for the Republican nominee in 2012. The decision has been made all the more difficult by the fact that we face the prospect of the re-election of the greatest threat to our constitutional republic who has ever occupied the Oval Office. In a year in which the GOP, including many conservatives for whom I have a great deal of respect, have adopted the “Anybody But Obama” mantra, my decision to cast my vote elsewhere is one that comes under constant scrutiny and is one that I find myself constantly justifying. But no other choice is left to me. I left the Republican Party to become an independent many years ago, but continued to vote for the GOP in presidential elections (holding my nose to do so in most instances) because I believed the alternative in the other “major” party to be much worse. But the nomination of Romney makes the prospect of voting Republican completely untenable, and severs once and for all any ties that remained between me and my former party. This has been made evident by the mockery to which my social conservative and constitutionalist beliefs have been subjected by Romney’s supporters. My vote and my voice are no longer welcomed by the GOP, and I will oblige them by not voting for that party’s presidential nominee for the first time since I became eligible to vote over a quarter of a century ago.
And THEREIN lies the opportunity for the Constitution Party to reach disaffected voters like me who are “free agents” for the first time. I suspect that, as with any party, among your top priorities is increasing your vote totals from prior years and gaining additional respect as a viable 3rd-party option to the “major” parties, while still remaining true to your principles. And although I’m not at the moment a member of your party, I deeply share your principles. Your commitment to following the Constitution as adopted by our Founders, and more importantly for me, your commitment to being the only 100% pro-life party in the country, represent a set of values and a philosophy that I have held for almost all my life. That I choose to remain an independent for the time being is in no way a reflection of the esteem in which I hold the Constitution Party.
As an independent, I have no say in who you choose to nominate. And I cannot and will not try to tell you what to do. That is your choice to make as to what you see as the best direction for your party to take. I certainly cannot blame you for choosing not to take the advice of an outsider. However, if you will indulge me, I will share with you what it will take to receive my vote and, although I won’t flatter myself to speak for each and every such voter, what I suspect it may take to win over the votes of those who find themselves freshly disenfranchised from the GOP by the untenable prospect of having to cast a vote for Mitt Romney.
I have high regard for the office of the Presidency of these United States, notwithstanding the way in which the office has been degraded throughout the years by unconstitutional usurpations of power, and particularly debased by the current occupant of that office. The respect I hold for the office is a direct reflection of the esteem in which I hold the person whom the Founders had in mind when the office of the Presidency was originally designed. Our first and greatest President, George Washington, was a man who was in many ways uniquely qualified to fill the role. He had been a commander of militia in the French and Indian Wars, he had been elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses (the forerunner of the Virginia House of Delegates), he had been elected to the Continental Congress, he had been Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, and he had been President of the Constitutional Convention. George Washington is perhaps more responsible than any other individual for bringing this Republic into being. And although I do not believe we will ever see his like again, nor do I believe that every candidate seeking the Presidency should have the exact same impossible-to-duplicate qualifications for the office as did he, out of respect for the man and the office he originated, not to mention the grave duties and responsibilities commensurate to the office, I believe that the Office of the Presidency is not and cannot be an entry-level job into governance.
For that reason, whenever I have in the past considered voting for a 3rd-party candidate for President, I have shied away after considering said candidate’s qualifications for office. Don’t get me wrong: some fine men and women have chosen the 3rd-party route to seek the Presidency; but, for me, voting for a Presidential candidate is more than just about agreeing with someone on the issues and principles; it is also about voting for the person who is best qualified to represent and put into effect those principles as President. And some modicum of a track record of experience is important to me when making that decision.
That is why I was excited to learn in February that Virgil Goode had announced his candidacy for the Presidency under the Constitution Party banner. Here was a candidate that I knew personally from my days of living in his congressional district. Here was a candidate with experience in the Virginia
House of Delegates Senate, with the experience of a run for Governor, and with experience in the U.S. House of Representatives. Here was a candidate who had served honorably and with integrity as a Democrat, as an independent, and as a Republican. Here was a candidate with a record of conservatism, who shares my pro-life and limited government principles. Here was a man for whom I could vote for President on a 3rd-party ticket and not feel like I was settling for someone without the experience and qualifications that I believe the office merits. I do not intend this in any way to detract from the fine qualities of character that the other candidates for the Constitution Party have; instead, I write this to point out that Virgil Goode’s background uniquely qualifies him among all of those candidates to offer Constitution Party voters an experienced alternative to Obama and Romney, with an appeal outside of the party to a broad cross-section of disaffected Democrats, Republicans, and independents longing for a viable 3rd-party option. With Virgil Goode on the ticket, my belief is that voters who might not normally vote 3rd party, in general, or the Constitution Party, in particular, will see that they do not have to sacrifice experience and electoral viability by voting for a 3rd-party candidate. THAT is the opportunity presented by Romney’s nomination by the GOP, by Obama’s fecklessness and blatantly unconstitutional power grabs, and by the decision of Virgil Goode to seek the Constitution Party nomination.
Again, the choice is yours to make, and I only offer my view on the matter as an independent voter who shares your ideals and goals. Take it for whatever you feel it’s worth. But it is my sincere hope and prayer that Consititution Party members and delegates make the most of this opportunity and nominate someone with the experience and leadership and track record of independence and commitment to constitutional conservatism that Virgil Goode has to offer.
Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Pro Ecclesia * Pro Familia * Pro Civitate