I could spend hours coming up with a series of adverbs and adjectives to describe Tom Chandler: patriotic, humble, quietly passionate, serious, and consistently hard-working. But a mere list of words is not adequate.
To truly understand the extraordinary nature of Tom Chandler, Ordinary Citizen, you have to get to know him. Spend time with him. Listen to his viewpoints. Read his musings. Learn from him. I’ve had the honor of starting that process, and I look forward to the continuation of my education via Tom Chandler.
A little background. Tom grew up in Altamont and Guilderland, NY. Asthma kept him out of childhood sports. Instead, he took interest in things like museums. And civil rights. He carefully watched and learned about the civil rights movement. Despite the possible danger inherent in attending a civil rights protest, he convinced his father to take him to Washington, D.C. during a Martin Luther King, Jr. march. It was a moment of bonding for father and son. Tom admires his father, a World War II veteran. Tom’s values, especially a belief that America is precious, were clearly influenced by his father, a man he deeply respects.
Tom was a Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party movement. For the last 20 years or more he has been a civil rights activist. And his take on civil rights is eye-opening. It’s a perspective that extends beyond a narrow view of racial issues. It is a focus on the Constitution, more specifically the Bill of Rights. All of them. Yes, that includes the 2nd Amendment… the right to bear arms. Ask Tom about civil rights, and he will give you a patient lecture about civil rights as defined in the Bill of Rights, the importance of exercising them, and how they apply to all Americans.
Tom is tireless. In the two Tea Party rallies that I coordinated, I basically turned over the majority of the logistics duties to Tom. He made it look effortless. After decades of grassroots political activism he is not slowing down. He constantly volunteers for liberty-minded candidates. Whether it’s behind the scenes or behind the microphone, at rallies or knocking on doors, Tom is equally comfortable and effective.
Tom is eternally optimistic. The Tea Party movement has faced accusations of racism since its beginnings. Tom reminds us that such accusations are typical responses, and it means the movement is having a positive impact. I know that I created a couple posts about racism on this blog, but a recent post by Tom on timesunion.com is better. Check it out.
I asked Tom specifically about his experience with racism and discrimination. He admitted to me that he had experienced both, but he shrugged it off. In a manner typical of Tom’s positive outlook, he told me that he knew others have historically experienced far worse. He simply hopes that he is making a difference.
It’s impossible for me to boil down a description of Tom Chandler to just a few paragraphs. Maybe not for him, though. As I interviewed Tom, a statement describing his perspective nearly knocked me off my chair. He said:
Simple truth resonates more than fancy gimmicks.
Profiles of the Extraordinary is a category within the This Ordinary Citizen blog. It features Ordinary Citizens who show us what it means to be Extraordinary. If you know someone who should be profiled, contact the author.