Tancredo loco

Zack Budryk

Contributing Writer

Last week, the first convention of the so-called “Tea Party” (motto: “Proudly Scaring Americans into Maintaining the Two-Party System) was held in Tennessee, and it was about as nakedly insane and hateful as you would expect it to be. Much of the ink regarding the first annual Tea Party Convention has been given to former governor Sarah Palin’s speech (short version: “Hey! The president is a [bell rings]!”), so it’s understandable that some of the other speakers may have been given short shrift comparatively. However, a lot of the media seems to have forgotten that one speaker in particular out-crazied Palin by a long shot: former Colorado representative Tom Tancredo, who took the stage to announce (referring to the 2008 presidential election),“And then, something really odd happened, mostly because I think that we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country.”

For those not in the know, literacy tests were used in several Southern states in the post-Civil War period as nothing more than an excuse to strong-arm freed slaves out of voting (as indicated by the fact that they often prevented educated blacks from voting and allowed uneducated whites to). The really disturbing part is that Tancredo wasn’t just defending an idea that by coincidence was used to disenfranchise African-Americans; it’s that, as the context made clear, that’s exactly what he thinks it should be used for. So, yes, for those of you insisting that the Tea Party is separate from the Republican Party, you’re apparently right, because the Tea Party isn’t even pretending to admire Abraham Lincoln.

Consider this scenario: Tancredo, on his way to a Larry the Cable Guy performance, accidentally falls into a time portal. He awakes in 1890s New York, and, searching for kindred spirits, joins the tea partiers of the time, the Know-Nothing Party. Once there, he immediately discovers how people who think like he does used to treat people with last names like “Tancredo.”

Seriously, people, I know I talk a lot about how self-destructive the Democratic Party has been known to behave, but for all their faults, they never thought the path to electoral victory was to split off into a third party that blamed all their problems on African-Americans having the right to vote. (Well, actually, they did, but I’m talking about in the past decade or so.) You might not think strategic advice from a Democrat is worth much, guys, but please understand my sincerity when I say hitching your wagon to this type of person is an awful, awful idea.

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