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Tancredo’s Creed

The Lord is my shepherd.

—  Psalm 23

He’ll probably be calling on the Lord again.  When he needs to change his mind he lets the Lord do it for him.   It all came to mind when the Denver Post reported that it had invited Tom Tancredo and the three other Republicans hoping to become Colorado’s next governor to participate in a debate. Tom Tancredo declined.  When asked about his refusal to debate he explained that he wants to “reduce the number of self-inflicted wounds” that would come back to haunt the winner of the primary when the general election takes place.  He said:  “I will have to pass on the debate opportunity.  We made a decision some time ago to forgo these venues in order to reduce the number of self-inflicted wounds that emanate out of these encounters.” Those who are disappointed needn’t be.  They know that when Tom Tancredo makes a decision he later regrets he simply calls on the Lord who then decides what he should do.  In this election year the Lord will not only have to help him reconsider his decision not to debate but help him explain what to the outsider seems like a need to change positions he espoused as recently as four years ago.  I think the Lord can be counted on.

Many Coloradans remember when Tom was a member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, serving as the congressman from the 6th Congressional District.  He first ran in 1998 and when he was running he was a staunch supporter of limiting members of Congress to three consecutive terms.  At that time he said:  “We want to reinvigorate the electoral process by introducing people into the system who think of government services as a temporary endeavor, not as a career.”

In May 2001, after he had been elected to a second term Tom was interviewed by The Rocky Mountain News and asked about his pledge to serve no more than three terms.  He said:  “I have no plans to break the pledge.  It’s my intent to serve out my three terms if I’m reelected, and that’s it. . . . When conquering heroes were brought back to Rome after a successful campaign, there was always a large crowd yelling his [sic] name or throwing rose petals.  But by Roman law, a slave had to stand behind him in the chariot while holding the laurel wreath over his head, and had to keep saying to the general: ‘All fame is fleeting.’  Term limits is like that guy standing behind you.”

On September 26, 2002 he told the same newspaper he’d spoken with fifteen months earlier that the Lord had intervened to absolve him of his pledge. He said that his actions could be characterized as breaking a pledge but he explained that whether he would run for a fourth term was going to be decided by God and that by putting it in God’s hands he hoped he was doing what God wanted.  It took the Lord less than eight months to decide what Tom should do.  In April 2002 he (Tom-not the Lord) announced that he was no longer bound by his pledge to serve no more than three terms and he went on to serve a total of five terms.

In 2010 Tom ran for governor as a candidate of the American Constitution Party.   The Lord will probably be called on to absolve him of the need to adhere to the platforms of that party.   Among other things, the party platform calls for abolishing the Food and Drug Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Departments of Education and Energy and the Federal Election Commission.  The platform calls for replacing the entire federal tax system with a new system that is “based on the original design of our founding fathers.” It calls for an end to government promotion of “safe sex.” With respect to guns and the second amendment it says:  “The only acceptable gun control is one’s ability to hit the target with the first shot, every time!”

Citizens contemplating whether or not to support Mr. Tancredo will want to know whether he still subscribes to those positions.  Although as governor he would not have the power to effect all of these changes, it would be good to know whether, as governor, he would urge Colorado’s congressional delegation to pursue these goals.  He may be also be asked in a debate whether having favored the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service he also would support eliminating the Colorado Department of Revenue.

In commenting on Tom’s abandoning the Republican party and joining the American Constitution Party in 2010, Doug Campbell who had been its perennial candidate for governor said:  “Tom did not make this decision to come over to our party on the spur of the moment.  He’s been heading our direction for quite a while.” As 2014 unfolds I am confident Tom will call on the Lord to help him explain how he now relates to the party to which he belonged until recently. He will probably also ask the Lord to help him decide whether he should reconsider his decision not to debate his adversaries.  He’ll want the Lord’s help with those matters so he doesn’t appear to be wishy-washy.  That’s a big challenge but my guess is the Lord’s up to it.  Time will tell.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be e-mailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

 

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