I admit I know very little about former one-term congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois. Some quick online research reveals that he was a tea party activist elected in the anti-Obamacare Republican wave of 2010. During his short tenure in office, Walsh appears to have carved out a reputation as a staunch and sometimes harsh critic of former President Obama, and a reliable vote for conservative policy.
When he lost his re-election bid to Tammy Duckworth in 2012, Walsh went on to host a conservative talk radio show before announcing a presidential primary run against Donald Trump's re-election bid in the 2020 cycle. After a dismal showing in the Iowa caucuses, Walsh left the race and the Republican Party.
His social media feed today reads similar to that of several other publicly disgruntled ex-Republicans who have found a new lucrative and conspicuous career in trashing former allies. Though his level of grift may not approach that of the notorious Lincoln Project, Walsh garners attention these days for his outlandish anti-Republican takes.
Whatever. Everyone has to make a living as they see fit, I suppose.
But what caused me to do a double take was Walsh recently directing his followers to view a moving interview that Jake Tapper conducted with the then-dying/now-deceased former Republican Congressman Paul Mitchell.
The interview was fantastic, and Mitchell's advice was as wise and prudent as you would expect to hear from the perspective of a man having just days to live: "Love people, less hatred, learn to understand people, judge less, care about another person because when you care about them, it's hard to hate them."
Explaining to Tapper that our current political process seems to be, "Let's rev up the base, those people are evil," Mitchell's tired, failing voice cautions such an approach is "destructive" and destroying our country. From my seat, he's not wrong at all. The advent of social media has only heightened the intensifying feeling of polarization, adding to the us vs. them gang mentality an element of public shaming for anyone who dares to see the humanity in "the other side."
Nothing gets you as discounted, dismissed, and despised these days as much as being a liberal who acknowledges Trump successes or a conservative who thinks Biden has some admirable qualities. If you think Black Lives Matter voices have some legitimate grievances, you can't be trusted by "real conservatives." If you won't tag as a "white nationalist" anyone who objects to the current social justice movement, then the left deems you complicit and "a part of the problem."
"Join the extremes or get out of the way" is the mantra of modern American society.
Which brings me back to Joe Walsh. Despite promoting and praising this interview and the prescient observations that Mitchell made, Walsh somehow seems oblivious to the fact that he is precisely the kind of voice the late representative was warning about. Consider that just a few tweets before Walsh celebrated Mitchell's call for less group condemnation and accusatory nonsense, the radio host posted this:
That's not just hyperbolic, it's insane. No Republicans believe in the vaccine? Not the governors and lawmakers who are encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated? Not people like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who has been at the forefront of getting vulnerable people first access to the vaccine, and is now promoting early monoclonal antibody treatment for the infected?
Each one of those silly, divisive accusations not only defies common sense, they could be disproven with multiple examples in a simple 5-second Google search.
Which means if Walsh is actually serious about wanting to honor the wisdom and bipartisan legacy of the dearly departed Representative Mitchell, it seems he could start by cleaning up the mindless judgmentalism that seems to define his current contributions to our political discourse.
P.S. Now take a brain break and enjoy our viral video "How to speak Bidenese" 👇