Joe Walsh: Trump Needs a Primary Challenge

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snuffy

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Joe Walsh: Trump Needs a Primary Challenge
The case for a contender from the right.
By Joe Walsh
Mr. Walsh is a former Republican member of Congress from Illinois.
  • Aug. 14, 2019

    • 1296



President Trump.CreditCreditSamuel Corum for The New York Times
There’s a strong case for President Trump to face a Republican primary challenger. I know a thing or two about insurgencies. I entered Congress in 2011 as an insurgent Tea Party Republican. My goals were conservative and clear: restrain executive power and reduce the debt. Barack Obama was president then, and it was easy for us to rail against runaway spending and executive overreach.
Eight years later, Mr. Trump has increased the deficit more than $100 billion year over year — it’s now nearing $1 trillion — and we hear not a word of protest from my former Republican colleagues. He abuses the Constitution for his narcissistic trade war. In private, most congressional Republicans oppose the trade war, but they don’t say anything publicly. But think about this: Mr. Trump’s tariffs are a tax increase on middle-class Americans and are devastating to our farmers. That’s not a smart electoral strategy.
It’s one of the many reasons Mr. Trump is ripe for a primary challenger. In fact, it would buck the historical trend if he didn’t have one. More often than not, unpopular presidents face primary challengers.
Since leaving Congress in 2013, I’ve been the host of my own conservative talk radio show several hours a day, five days a week. The only time a majority of my conservative audience has noticeably broken with the president is when he signed the omnibus spending bill in 2017 that ballooned the deficit. Fiscal responsibility is an issue the American electorate cares about but that our elected officials disregard from the top down — including the Tea Party in the Trump era.

Fiscal matters are only part of it. At the most basic level, Mr. Trump is unfit for office. His lies are so numerous — from his absurd claim that tariffs are “paid for mostly by China, by the way, not by us,” to his prevarication about his crowd sizes, he can’t be trusted.
In Mr. Trump, I see the worst and ugliest iteration of views I expressed for the better part of a decade. To be sure, I’ve had my share of controversy. On more than one occasion, I questioned Mr. Obama’s truthfulness about his religion. At times, I expressed hate for my political opponents. We now see where this can lead. There’s no place in our politics for personal attacks like that, and I regret making them.


I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump in 2016 because I liked him. I voted for him because he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. Once he was elected, I gave him a fair hearing, and tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I soon realized that I couldn’t support him because of the danger he poses to the country, especially the division he sows at every chance, culminating a few weeks ago in his ugly, racist attack on four minority congresswomen.
The fact is, Mr. Trump is a racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia to rouse his base and advance his electoral prospects. In this, he inspires imitators.
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Republicans should view Mr. Trump as the liability that he is: No matter hisflag-hugging, or his military parades, he’s no patriot. In front of the world, he sides with Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence community. That’s dangerous. He encouraged Russian interference in the 2016 election, and he refuses to take foreign threats seriously as we enter the 2020 election. That’s reckless. For three years, he has been at war with our federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as he embraces tyrants abroad and embarrasses our allies. That’s un-American.
And despite what his enablers claim, Mr. Trump isn’t a conservative. He’s reckless on fiscal issues; he’s incompetent on the border; he’s clueless on trade; he misunderstands executive power; and he subverts the rule of law. It’s his poor record that makes him most worthy of a primary challenge.
Mr. Trump has taken the legitimate differences that Americans have on policy and turned them into personal division. He’s caused me to change my tone and to reflect upon where I went over the line and to focus on policy differences moving forward.
We now have a president who retweets conspiracy theories implicating his political opponents in Jeffrey Epstein’s death. We now have a president who does his level best to avoid condemning white supremacy and white nationalism.


Yes, William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, is challenging Mr. Trump from the center. But the president is more vulnerable to a challenge from the right. I’m on the right, and I’m hugely disappointed that challenge hasn’t yet materialized.
Mr. Trump’s most vulnerable against a challenger who’d make the case for strong borders — instead of warning of “invaders,” dragging us down, turning neighbor against neighbor. A majority of Americans want fixes to our most basic problems.
We need someone who could stand up, look the president in the eye and say: “Enough, sir. We’ve had enough of your indecency. We’ve had enough of your lies, your bullying, your cruelty, enough of your insults, your daily drama, your incitement, enough of the danger you place this country in every single day. We don’t want any of this anymore, and the country certainly can’t stand four more years of it.”
Joe Walsh, a former Illinois congressman, is a nationally syndicated conservative talk radio host
 

CocoCincinnati

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Mr. Walsh is obviously a believer in the fake mainstream media....you're embarrassing yourself Joe.
If the Republican party tried to primary Trump then their journey towards the dark side would be complete.
 
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oks10

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I personally don't see how this would help Republicans keep the office in 2020... I think this would just result in an ugly primary that will distract from the Dem primary and would ultimately cost the republican candidate (whoever gets through) votes in the general. Some will have sour grapes over things that get said about "their guy" during the primary and will choose not to support the candidate. They may not vote Dem but they could certainly vote 3rd party or not vote at all. That's just how I see this ending.

Edit: Now, none of that is to say I wouldn't rather see another (more pleasant) republican in office over any of the current democrats running. I just believe it would only boost the Dem chances of taking office.
 
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snuffy

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Mr. Walsh is obviously a believer in the fake mainstream media....you're embarrassing yourself Joe.
If the Republican party tried to primary Trump then their journey towards the dark side would be complete.
So all the reasons that a fiscally conservative Republican listed for Trump being bad at his job is not a reason for him to have a challenger?
 

CocoCincinnati

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So all the reasons that a fiscally conservative Republican listed for Trump being bad at his job is not a reason for him to have a challenger?
When many of those reasons are either entirely false or seriously spun, the yes. When he tries to make his case by resorting to the Russia collusion narrative, he loses all credibility with me and couldn't get my support for dog catcher.

Show me a fiscal conservative who can legitimately challenge Trump without resorting to the false media narrative, then I might be open to the idea. Even then it might not be a good idea for the reasons oks10 outlined in the post above yours.
 
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steross

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So all the reasons that a fiscally conservative Republican listed for Trump being bad at his job is not a reason for him to have a challenger?
Anybody claiming to be fiscally conservative who supports this president is simply paying lip service to fiscal conservatism. We have interest rates that have gone up a little but are still quite low and he is begging them to go lower because he knows the economy is teetering because of his tariff wars which go against fiscal conservatism...


Despite a great economy, he is growing the budget deficit to levels only seen before in times of crisis. This is unprecedented and isn't conservatism:


Most of the stuff debated about him is stuff that can easily change with the next president. But, these policies are putting us at risk of a severe financial calamity, with no fuel in reserve to jump-start things if it starts happening. If a democrat president had numbers like this, fiscal conservatives would be screaming from the rooftops. But, it is their guy, so they sort of agree when it is pointed out but otherwise say very little. They are more republicans than fiscal conservatives, which history shows are clearly not the same thing.
 

CocoCincinnati

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Anybody claiming to be fiscally conservative who supports this president is simply paying lip service to fiscal conservatism.
This entire country, Republicans and Democrats alike, have been simply paying lip service to any sort of fiscal responsibility whatsoever for the past 2 decades.

This is not a defense of Trump, he's certainly not fiscally conservative, but very few in politics are today. None of us can claim that high road. For example you support a candidate who wants to add several trillion to the budget every year with a UBI.
 

kaboy42

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Get me Colin Powell or Mike Rowe, and we can talk. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot of current Republicans that jump out at me either.


Pretty much all career politicians and worthless DC establishment.
 

steross

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This entire country, Republicans and Democrats alike, have been simply paying lip service to any sort of fiscal responsibility whatsoever for the past 2 decades.

This is not a defense of Trump, he's certainly not fiscally conservative, but very few in politics are today. None of us can claim that high road. For example you support a candidate who wants to add several trillion to the budget every year with a UBI.
Well, it is exactly that. By not complaining about it, that is defending it.

If Trump wasn't pro-life like he said he would be while running, republicans would be screaming up and down. Democrats aren't claiming that mantle of fiscal conservatism, republicans are. Sure, if it makes you feel better, blame everyone, even those that don't claim it. That still doesn't change the fact that Trump supporters just keep this like a dirty little secret. Show me any post by a so-called fiscal conservative on this board pointing out this issue with the president. It would be like a democrat president quietly dismantling food stamps and WIC while the dems said, "Well, the republicans didn't do a lot to support those programs either..." instead of complaining about it.

Adding to the budget is not adding to the deficit.
 

ksupoke

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He had a fiscally conservative challenger and it was a non starter, see Rand Paul for details. There are degrees of fiscal conservatism, bho, and gbj were not as conservative as slick willie but much of willie’s fiscal conservatism came from a congress he needed to support for reelection, as an example; I’m somewhat fiscally conservative and yet I’d support a specific tax targeted at mental health, we all have our windmills, to think otherwise is a fools errand. It’s similar to the ‘not a true Scotsman’ debate with the Lib party. If the r’s want to lose the WH then a primary challenger is absolutely the way to go, I’m not sure that there aren’t a lot of r’s who would be sorry to see dt go regardless of outcome.
Every pol seems to be saying DC is the problem and yet most who say this have been there 20+ years, it ain’t the potus who is the issue.
 

kaboy42

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Well, maybe, just maybe, if republicans actually complained about the lack of fiscal conservatism from their beloved leader then someone else may consider it.
Don't disagree... and don't disagree that it needs to happen.

Just saying that the Republicans don't have any one I really care to see step up in a primary. I've named the only two names I'd be excited to see. (Aaaaand maybe Condoleezza Rice if it just had to be a female.)
 

snuffy

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We need someone who could stand up, look the president in the eye and say: “Enough, sir. We’ve had enough of your indecency. We’ve had enough of your lies, your bullying, your cruelty, enough of your insults, your daily drama, your incitement, enough of the danger you place this country in every single day. We don’t want any of this anymore, and the country certainly can’t stand four more years of it.”
Maybe since it was the last paragraph it was missed but this is why Trump needs a challenger.
 

CocoCincinnati

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Well, it is exactly that. By not complaining about it, that is defending it.
There's a difference in complaining about it and realizing there just isn't another viable alternative. There are plenty of pro life Republicans to choose from so your example is apples to oranges.

Many people on the right have voiced strong disagreement over Trump and spending, including me. The truth is many Republicans have simply given up and resign themselves to pick who they think would be better on spending between our two normal bad choices.

Certainly anybody defending Trump as fiscally conservative is delusional IMO.
 

CaliforniaCowboy

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Well, it is exactly that. By not complaining about it, that is defending it.

If Trump wasn't pro-life like he said he would be while running, republicans would be screaming up and down. Democrats aren't claiming that mantle of fiscal conservatism, republicans are. Sure, if it makes you feel better, blame everyone, even those that don't claim it. That still doesn't change the fact that Trump supporters just keep this like a dirty little secret. Show me any post by a so-called fiscal conservative on this board pointing out this issue with the president. It would be like a democrat president quietly dismantling food stamps and WIC while the dems said, "Well, the republicans didn't do a lot to support those programs either..." instead of complaining about it.

Adding to the budget is not adding to the deficit.
WE ALL COMPLAIN ABOUT IT - fat lot of good that does us, we're not voting members of congress.

Trump not being a fiscal conservative is one the strongest complaints that I have about him. His proposed bailout (infrastructure) is something that I am strongly opposed too. I'm not a fan of tariffs, but using the threat of tariffs is something new and novel, and just might work to remove all tariffs (his stated goal).

Nobody (on here) is "defending it". (the spending).

I have stated it many, many times... but I'm not going to go looking for those posts.

I just said it again.

Adding to the budget IS adding to the deficit, if it is not offset with equal taxing or cuts.
 

Cowboy2U

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He had a fiscally conservative challenger and it was a non starter, see Rand Paul for details. There are degrees of fiscal conservatism, bho, and gbj were not as conservative as slick willie but much of willie’s fiscal conservatism came from a congress he needed to support for reelection, as an example; I’m somewhat fiscally conservative and yet I’d support a specific tax targeted at mental health, we all have our windmills, to think otherwise is a fools errand. It’s similar to the ‘not a true Scotsman’ debate with the Lib party. If the r’s want to lose the WH then a primary challenger is absolutely the way to go, I’m not sure that there aren’t a lot of r’s who would be sorry to see dt go regardless of outcome.
Every pol seems to be saying DC is the problem and yet most who say this have been there 20+ years, it ain’t the potus who is the issue.
Well said.
 

CaliforniaCowboy

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Get me Colin Powell or Mike Rowe, and we can talk. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot of current Republicans that jump out at me either.


Pretty much all career politicians and worthless DC establishment.
Powell isn't even a Republican .... a fat cat RINO maybe... but yuck.

Powell? Really? There are some decent candidates, but the 3 you named aren't them. (Nikki Haley, perhaps)

Colin Powell Tells Fox News' Bill O'Reilly Why He Voted For Obama Twice
 
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