It was cold. Cold enough to keep most politically anxious youth wrapped up in their warm beds. But, the not so far gone fear of a chauvinistic psycho taking control of our beautiful state, and the more recent celebration of his defeat, motivated Chris and I to roll out of bed and head to now-governor Hickenlooper’s inauguration.
State politics too often go unnoticed. The USian “go big or go home” mentality leads most averagely political people to focus almost entirely on National elections and issues, and ignore the happenings in their backyard. The domination of mainstream international media over the smaller local news channels has fed into this neglect. Fewer people turn on their local channel 9 or open their local newspaper, settling instead for CNN or FOXNews. The once local focus of our lives has shifted to a national and global outlook, and people have forgotten the power and influence those at the state level still have.
Our attendance (or perhaps I should speak for myself), my attendance was not so much in support of Hickenlooper. Though, I do enjoy hearing his voice on the train at DIA every time I return from my travels, and the times I have seen him at events I appreciate his approachable demeanor, I had not been an avid Hickenlooper advocate. At one fair I attended this summer I saw a man in a nice crisp suit with a perfect tie and fancy shoes. Well that turned out to be Hickenlooper’s bodyguard. Hickenlooper was there in khakis and a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the top buttons undone. He appeared so down to earth and willing to reach out to his constituents, even in the brutally hot sun. However, Hickenlooper’s politics shine democrat blue in almost every way, and that carries with it the good and the bad.
On this bitter cold morning I celebrated the defeat of Tancredo and that less than 50% of Coloradans (only 36.7%) had subscribed to bigotry and discrimination as a political platform. Tancredo, running on the constitution party ticket, had relied on his tough immigration reform to push him ahead of republican weakling Dan Maes making him the only competition for Democrats. Well this wasn’t the first time I had heard of Mr. Tancredo.
The Muslim community in Denver had been chanting his name at rallies for some time in anger as he spoke in support of Israel during Operation Cast Lead. While a large number of people gathered on one side of the street with the demand for Israel to “Stop Killing the Children”, Tancredo took time out of his busy schedule to join those rallying in support of Israel’s attack that resulted in the murder of hundreds of children. Muslims worldwide had been infuriated by his suggestion of bombing Muslim holy sites as a response to terrorist attacks, a suggestion that shows clear intolerance for the faith of more than 20% of the world population and of almost 20,000 of the Coloradans that he was running to represent.
Though, it wasn’t his intolerance for Islam that those 37% voted for this past November. Nope, it was his disdain for Mexicans that won him those votes. Ironically, he is full blood, second generation, Italian. All 4 of his grandparents immigrated from Italy to the United States in a time when Italians were discriminated against and labeled “unamerican” the same way Mr. Tancredo welcomes our Mexican neighbors now. Among his plans soaked in unhidden racism is his suggestion to place a moratorium on immigration to the United States that would permit only children and spouses of American Citizens to immigrate into the USA. An act that were it a few decades earlier would have barred his own family’s entry.
Another Tancredo gem was his 2007 proposal to congress to make English the official language of the United States, a trite attempt at englishafying the spanish speaking immigrants that he detests as his failed legislation demonstrates.
In his 2008 comical run for president, Tancredo ran solely on the issue of immigration calling illegal immigration a threat to national security. In one of his ads which depicted a terrorist attack (nothing more logical than to evoke this country’s exaggerated fear of terrorists in a political campaign focused entirely on Mexican immigration) had a voiceover reading
“There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who have come to take our jobs … the price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill.”
Exactly, the only reason that “Aliens” come across our borders is to kill. WHAT THE FUCK! excuse my language, but if any college student were to bring this point up in a classroom they would be correctly called out for being a racist. If an athlete or an actor were to say this crap they would be boycotted to the point of apology, but place it on a political campaign and now, not only is it acceptable, but it is a political platform?
Who elected this nut into office? Oh, whoops, that would be my district…Good old Colorado 6th district. 88 % white, 77% white-collar, and over 50% in support of this racist. Though, this wasn’t a one time 6th district mistake, oh no, my homeland allowed him to push forward his idiotic ideals in congress for 10 years.
I was in Jordan as the governor elections loomed nearer. Closer than ever to my Muslim/Arab heritage, I reflected on events with the Muslim community in Colorado when I was younger. I remember on multiple occasions meeting Governor Owens at these events (back when supporting the Muslim community didn’t contradict the Republican platform) and I thought about what a drastic shift 10 years could make. 2 wars and a 9-11 later my state was on the verge of electing a man who, not only wouldn’t support the Muslim community in his state, but had proposed destroying the most sacred places to this group.
I am most often tolerant when people discuss politics with me. I respect an intelligent argument, but this is where the line ends. Supporting Tancredo is supporting racism. If you vote for Tancredo you are telling me that you do not value my heritage and that, in fact, you would prefer someone in power who would happily bomb all that is sacred to my family and millions. If you vote for Tancredo you are telling the Mexican-American in your classes or your child’s class that you don’t think he should be here, and that you are happily helping to elect a man who would call this child a murder (only in english though).
Yes, you are entitled to your political beliefs, but do not believe that those you support are not a reflection on yourself.
Back to inauguration. We walked up to the capital building only minutes before the event was supposed to start (we weren’t going to be early in 4 degree weather!) to find only a small crowd gathered before the capital’s grand steps. I thought back to this summer when Chris and I had been in this same place attending Denver’s PRIDE festival. En Vogue performed a free concert to conclude the festivities less than a football field away from where I stood now drawing over 10 thousand people.
While I commend Denver citizens for rallying in support of the Gay movement, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disgusted that an outdated pop band could grasp more than 50 times the attendance than the swearing in of the State’s top positions.
I realize that this post has become more of a very long rant against Tancredo but I want to point out two more observations about the event.
- As we left I smiled at Chris and commented “There goes the friendly transition of power from one white-male-christian to the next”. And at the time we laughed, but that statement illuminates too true a reality and is in no way funny. The only break in the white landscape of former, current, and future state politicians on the Capital steps that day was Lieutenant Governor Elect Joe Garcia. And while a comprehensive search online shows me little about our states second in command, the last name alone implies that Joe Garcia would be a part of a minority that Tancredo would rather not have in this land.
- The demographic of the people who did attend the inauguration was as white as the politicians being inaugurated, with few exceptions. The turnout was drastically less diverse than the span of Denver itself, whose public schools are in most cases the majority minority students. So where were those who should be celebrating the defeat of Tancredo alongside me? Perhaps they have lost all hope in the White, elite government that is supposed to represent them.
After the short ceremony filled with continued campaign promises and procedural speeches, we walked back to the car, but not after being privileged to a 21 cannon salute. No joke, they were shooting of a cannon in Civic Center park. Gotta love Colorado.