I tuned in very late to the televised debate among Virgil Goode, Al Weed, and Joseph Oddo.
Oddo? "Who is Joseph Oddo?," you may ask. He's the "Independent Green" candidate for Congress in the 5th district, though from what little I saw in this debate, he talks a lot like a libertarian. (I mean that both in terms of content and delivery.)
I came in just as Congressman Goode was denouncing free trade, saying he opposed NAFTA, CAFTA, and most-favored-nation status for China.
Oddo then came in and said he supported free trade, saying "if it weren't for free trade, IKEA would not be building a plant" in Southside Virginia.
Then he said he supports the Fair Tax, saying it would make the United States, and Virginia, a target for investment from around the globe. Given the limited amount of time he had -- about 30 seconds -- he even explained the Fair Tax concept adequately (at least enough to demonstrate to me that he knew what he was talking about).
In response to the next question, Goode bragged about the pork he's brought back to the district, boasting about how he's taken other people's money to subsidize businesses that the market identifies as failures.
Oddo attacked the "wanton waste in Washington." He said if the minimum wage had kept pace with congressional pay raises over the past several decades, the minimum wage would now be $20 per hour.
Intriguingly, despite the fact that Oddo's apparently conservative stances would be likely to embarrass the incumbent, Virgil Goode, it was through Goode's intervention that Oddo was allowed to participate in the debate. According to the Lynchburg News & Advance:
While many debates exclude independent candidates, Oddo said he has been invited to at least three debates, including Monday’s televised event.Unfortunately, Oddo also endorsed his "party" platform of government-subsidized rail transportation, a mysterious policy centerpiece that has never been fully explained in any forum that I have seen. The emphasis on choo-choos simply makes Oddo and his political partners seem, well, odd.
Some invitations were extended to Oddo at Goode’s request. For example, Goode resisted participation in The News & Advance’s weekly forum, which is published online and in the paper, if Oddo was excluded. Oddo is included in the paper’s 10-question series.
During the last few minutes of the debate (the portion that I saw), Oddo threw out his ticketmate's name -- Gail "for Rail" Parker, who is running against George Allen and Jim Webb -- far more than his own. Unfortunately for Mr. Oddo, the chyron misspelled his name each time it was displayed (as "Joeseph" instead of "Joseph").
In his closing statement, he endorsed election-day voter registration. He described himself as a "fiscal conservative more conservative than these two." He said "you're wasting your vote if you don't step out of that mold" of only voting for the two major parties. He said he is self-employed and tried to suggest that plutocrats run Congress. "Votejoinrun.us" is his party's web site, as he reminded us more than once in the last 10 minutes of the program.
Oddo even has that scared-puppy look that usually accompanies the lack of basic social skills we associate with so many libertarians. (For his part, Al Weed looked like a deer caught in the headlights, as well he might: He was smoked by Goode two years ago -- except in Charlottesville -- and he'll be shellacked again this year.)
I don’t know how much of the small-government, fiscally-conservative, socially-responsible rhetoric of Oddo, Parker, and the rest of the Independent Green ticket in Virginia is genuine and deep-seated. Several of the IGVA candidates call for congressional term limits -- a good idea. The web site features a quotation from Russell Kirk: "Not by force of arms are civilizations held together, but by subtle threads of moral and intellectual principle."
The name “Independent Green," however, raises suspicions for me. These unrelentingly amateurish politicians might be watermelons hidden in a Trojan horse of faux free-market principles. (How's that for mixing metaphors?)
Still, despite these reservations, for die-hard libertarians who dislike big-government "conservatives" as much as big-government liberals, Oddo might be worth a look – especially since no Libertarian Party candidate is on the ballot in the Fifth Congressional District.
By the way, the debate was held at Liberty University and was moderated by WSET-TV's Len Stevens. The News & Advance reported that
The panelists for Monday’s debate include Julie Newman, WSET’s anchor and reporter for Virginia News Tonight; Crystal Cameron, WVIR’s morning anchor; and two members of Liberty University’s Debate Team, Amanda Costa and Glen Koch.As if we need a reminder of that day -- so close and yet so far.
Election Day is Nov. 7.