By Molly Hunter
Ex-Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh told a group of mostly Republican University of Iowa students why Trump is a sign the Republican Party is in decline on Tuesday evening.
“I think we’re going through something in this country right now we haven’t seen in ages. Trump is president, and no matter what you think of him, good, bad, or ugly, nobody … thought a guy like Donald Trump was going to be president,” said Walsh, the host of a conservative talk radio show and former Republican member of the U.S. House Representatives.
Walsh gave a talk Tuesday night in the IMU.
The event was put on by the University of Iowa chapter of Turning Point USA, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government on college campuses.
Walsh warned people against worshipping Trump.
“I know that sounds funny, but I’m deadly serious,” he said. “Do not worship politicians.”
And self-identified Democrat Chicago-native and UI student Glenn Sonnie Wooden Jr., who attended Walsh’s talk, said people indeed worship Trump.
“He is truly their savior of America,” Wooden said. “And by ‘they,’ I’m saying the strong right conservative, the brash, the angry American.”
Walsh said Trump’s election was a symptom of the Republican Party’s decline.
“I think because our political system is so screwed up, and I think because our political system is broken, that’s why we got Trump,” Walsh said. “Those of you who may like Trump … you’ve got to be honest. The guy’s a little whacked. The guy’s a little nuts.”
Walsh said many longtime congressional Republicans hailed as heroes, among them Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are no longer dedicated to small government.
“Both parties are corrupt,” Walsh said. “Both parties have ruled America for 150 years — that’s over. [Their] stranglehold on our country is over.”
Wooden said the U.S. has a lot to learn, but the country is still young.
“People tend to believe America is this old country, that we’ve established these ways, but we’re one of the most developed and youngest with so much power,” Wooden said. “It’s like giving a teenage kid his license. … We’re still spinning our wheels a little bit.”
But Walsh said the Republican Party is dying. The party as a whole, he said, has lost sight of the importance of small government.
“Republicans stopped doing what they were supposed to do and what they stand for 30 years ago,” said UI student and member of the UI College Republicans Cole Kramersmeier.
He said the Republican Party has moved too far to the left.
“When was the last time you heard of a Republican repealing a law? It doesn’t happen,” Kramersmeier said.
He said he agrees almost entirely with Walsh’s “iconoclastic” representation of the Republican Party, but he doesn’t think the party is dead.
“The leadership is so stagnated, and they’ve become so complacent and so out of touch with the broad culture and the youth … that they’re just pandering to the generations that elected them before, not the generations to elect them next,” Kramersmeier said.