This is a post I made to a public politics forum I often post to -- I came upon a bunch of Europeans and liberal Americans making fun of and abusing Congressman Tom Tancredo, and I couldn't let it go. Please note that this is not an endorsement of Tancredo's potential Presidential bid -- I'm currently supporting a different Tancredo-style conservative named John Cox (www.cox2008.com). But I couldn't let them get away with maligning Tancredo as if he were some kind of nutcase.
I would personally rather Tancredo run for Wayne Allard's seat in the US Senate (or Bob Schaffer). The Denver Post claimed Tancredo today suggested Scott McInnis would be good for that seat, but I have trouble believing that -- McInnis isn't my kind of conservative, and isn't Tancredo's kind of conservative either.
Anyway... The Post:
Tancredo himself has said that he doesn't think he could win, and so he probably won't run. But he might run for the purpose of getting the immigration issue before the public. Mere noise, rather than action, is partially effective in doing that.
I know Tancredo personally -- not as a friend, but as someone who I've spoken to on numerous occasions, who I've watched closely, and who spent 20 minutes with me and my wife on a boat (with others, but the conversation was just us) chatting about personal stuff -- stuff you could never imagine talking with a US Congressman about, because you generally assume they're arrogant, guarded and busy with other things (and you'd generally be right!).
Tancredo is not like that. He's one of the coolest people I know -- one of the most open, most honest, most intelligent, most sincere, and most humble people I know in all of politics. He's intelligently conversant on a wide variety of issues, including education (that's his background -- he was a public school teacher), fiscal policy (taxes, spending, budgets, etc.), foreign affairs, foreign trade, etc.
Has he said outrageous things? Yes -- that's how he gets people's attention. As he's said himself, he likes to raise the red banner of revolution, in hopes of getting a reasonable modification in the government's policies. He's good at getting attention! Perhaps a dozen members of the US House have better name recognition than he does -- out of hundreds!
He picked immigration as his main issue because it's something important to him, and because no one else really had the stomach to bring it to the forefront like he does. Why? Partly because they know that everyone who makes it a major issue is going to get tarred with the label "racist", whether they are or not. That's just how that issue is these days -- important issues like that cannot be discussed without names and accusations being brought out.
Is he a racist? No. His family came over with a lot of other Italians as immigrants, and were mistreated for it. He understands the plight of immigrants, but there is a fundamental difference between what his family did and what families today are doing -- the Tancredos got into the United States legally. That's a sound and realistic distinction. They didn't break laws to get here.
A Colorado Hispanic magazine interviewed Tancredo recently, and the interviewer admitted that his impression on meeting and speaking with Tancredo was exactly the opposite of his expectations from what he'd heard about him. Tancredo raised reasonable concerns, expressed sympathy with the plight of many of these immigrants, but maintained that the issue of jobs and the adherence to the rule of law are important. The Hispanic interviewer came away understanding the immigration issue very differently, and found some common ground with Tancredo, even on such a polarizing issue.
I also happen to know that a good many of Tom's supporters are Hispanics whose families came to the US legally, and who resent illegal immigration just the same as do most immigrants of other ethnicities.
Anyway... No one else is going to tell you these things, so I figured I'd better. You can believe me or not.
Tancredo is one of my very favorite people -- he's earned my respect, and there aren't very many politicians at all (even among those who I support!) who can claim that.