This is interview #8 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Tom Tancredo. Tom started out as a high school history teacher, and in 1976, ran for and won a seat in the Colorado state legislature. In 1981, President Reagan appointed him the regional Department of Education representative for Denver. Tom is a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Colorado’s 6th congressional district. The district includes most of Denver’s southern suburbs. He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, and chose not to run for re-election to his House seat in the November 2008 election. He is one of the few nationally known Republican figures to have come out in opposition to the federal War On Drugs. Tom and his wife have two children and five grandchildren.
Josiah Schmidt: Thanks for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to speak with us, Mr. Tancredo. What have you been up to over the past year or two?
Tom Tancredo: I am running two public policy research organizations (think tanks). One is the Rocky Mountain Foundation and the other is the American Legacy Alliance.
Josiah Schmidt: You are one of the few major Republican figures to have seriously questioned the efficacy of the federal government’s War on Drugs. What caused you to do so?
Tom Tancredo: The Drug War is not winnable. That makes it a tradgedy of enormous proportions, considering the hundreds of billions wasted on it, the number of people in prison who are not a threat to anyone, the corruption spreading in our society that is the same corruption that is destroying Mexico, the number of kids getting hooked who would not be if we took the money out of pushing it to them, and the incredible usurpation of states’ rights by the feds.
Josiah Schmidt: In your opinion, what would be a more effective way to deal with the problem of drug abuse in America?
Tom Tancredo: The only solution is to legalize and regulate both the sale and production of marijuana. That takes the money out of the pockets of the cartels and eliminates the playground pusher. No one tries to push booze to kids because the risk-reward ratio is too great. States should be allowed to regulate it just like they do liquor–a much more dangerous drug than pot, by the way.
Josiah Schmidt: Do you think there are any fundamental problems with the concept of prohibition?
Tom Tancredo: I have never smoked pot (or in any other way ingested it), but if I chose to do so, it is not a decision that the federal government has a role in. If I drive under its influence or commit an act that harms someone else because I am stoned, then the government has a right to intervene. I don’t need the government telling me what I can eat, drink or smoke. That’s what mothers are for. As an adult, I don’t need a nanny.
Josiah Schmidt: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your experience with politics?
Tom Tancredo: I’ve learned that you can accomplish much if you focus on one or two issues and then work like hell.
Josiah Schmidt: Great advice, Tom. Thanks again.