MCLEAN, VA., October 18, 2022 – Former Republican presidential candidate and representative from Illinois Joe Walsh had explosive words about the state of his party at the Students For Liberty flagship event LibertyCon International this past weekend.
In a panel discussion on “Everything wrong with National Conservatism,” the bombastic and brazen Walsh pulled no punches. “Trump tapped into what I think is this ugly strand in the Republican party base,” he said, “this more authoritarian impulse. The average Republican voter has given up on democracy. And they want a dictator to give them back the America they want.”
Speaking in Miami, Florida at the liberty movement’s largest international gathering, Walsh also teed off on a local politician whom he called the 2nd-most famous Republican in the country. “Ron DeSantis … has become famous for using the power of government to punish people, to go after people,” Walsh said. “It’s fundamentally antithetical to freedom, but it’s kind of the right’s revenge.”
Commanding the packed auditorium as well as the brimming live stream as only he can, Walsh opined, “This is a scary-ass time in America. I’m a ‘small-l libertarian’ [i.e. libertarian in ideology but not officially in the party] who doesn’t have a [political] home right now.” Because, he continued, “It feels like every month, this country is changing. Along came Trump and national conservatives and they said, ‘I’ll stop the change. … I’ll bring you back to 1954. I’ll be a jerk, but I’ll do it.’ And then the Democrats don’t know how to address these people who are legitimately scared and frustrated with all the change.”
Walsh clarified: “Trump lies every time he opens his mouth … but he came when people felt like the political system wasn’t listening. And he lied, and said, ‘I’ll listen.'”
Walsh also described a battle many Americans thought had been settled in 1787, with the first clause in the Bill of Rights … or at the very least had been settled in the early 2000s, when the Republican party took a secular turn. “Much of what these national conservatives want is a Christian country. They don’t believe in separation of religion from government.”
“Now they’re saying I’m gonna use the power of government, like the left’s been doing all these years, to punish people, to go after our enemies, to get the country we want — some sort of Christian theocracy.
Though his words regarding politicians were pointed, Walsh demonstrated the abiding empathy for people that characterizes the liberty movement. Voters on the right, he said, feel “beaten up, down, and kicked around for years … The average American out there is pissed off.” But, he added, make no mistake: “The Republican party right now is fundamentally authoritarian.”
The bulk of this press release was written by Trevor Kraus.
Brian S. Lambrecht
Students For Liberty