The steady stream of candidates to campus continued on Monday, with Congressman Tom Tancredo holding a Town Hall meeting at the Rockefeller Center. Here's an article in The Dartmouth covering the main points of his remarks. Most of the evening was a discussion of his views on immigration. Since I'm not a fan of establishing a guest worker program, which I consider an institutionalized second-class citizenship, I tend to agree with him more than the other candidates. On the efficacy of building fences and on whether we should be doing more to enable legal immigration, he's more of a hardliner than I am.
Overall, I had the same reaction to him as I had to Congressman Ron Paul when he visited. As a Republican, there are many things about his views that resonate with me. But my question is this. In a nutshell, "If those are your beliefs ..., then why are you not taking on a leadership role in Congress to make sure they are reflected in the law of the land?" If you fancy yourself an authentic conservative, and if you believe that the people will support you in your views, then build a governing coalition around that among your colleagues in Congress. If you cannot do that, then why would we think that you have the ability to lead from the Oval Office?
There was a frank discussion about what it has been like to serve in Congress in recent years, and he had no particularly kind words for how the institution functioned while the Republicans were in the majority. At one point, he likened Congress to "Chinese water torture on your principles." He said that the way arms were twisted by the Republican leadership to pass the Medicare drug bill was a low point for him as a Republican in Congress.