Joe Walsh has announced his intentions to snatch the Republican nomination away from the current president, Donald Trump, prompting many of us to wonder “Who?” and “No, but who?”
The former congressman from Chicago, who rode the Tea Party’s wave of racism and Islamophobia to victory in the House of Representatives in 2010 only to lose his first reelection two years later, announced his 2020 campaign on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
According to Walsh, his main reason for running is to get Trump out of office.
“He’s nuts,” the lawmaker-turned-radio-host told Stephanopoulos on Sunday, per the Associated Press. “He’s erratic. He’s cruel. He stokes bigotry. He’s incompetent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’m a conservative. And I think there’s a decent chance to present to Republican voters a conservative without all the baggage.”
He’s leaving out, of course, the fact that he’s a political opportunist with a history of drastically changing his views on LGBTQ+ rights in the hopes of furthering his career.
In 1996, Walsh promoted himself as “the most gay-friendly Republican around” back when he ran for a Congressional district that includes historically gay Chicago neighborhood Boystown. If elected, he promised to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), an earlier version of what would later become the Equality Act. The legislation outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in areas like housing and employment.
Walsh’s attempt to unseat longtime representative Sid Yates was ultimately unsuccessful. And by 2013, Walsh had changed his mind, devoting an episode of his podcast to “the case against ENDA.”
Walsh, who held a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign while in office, has often expressed his disdain for the Trump administration’s ban on trans people serving in the military, but as recently as last year he was using his platform of more than 200,000 Twitter followers to misgender trans people, label trans people as perverts, decry the existence of transgender studies in academia, and defend the implementation of bathroom bills. In addition to opposing same-sex marriage and saying he doesn’t “believe” in hate crimes, Walsha once said that LGBTQ+ people are “constitutional terrorists.”
Beyond homophobia and transphobia, Walsh has a history of making racist and Islamophobic remarks — for example, claiming that Americans “lowered the bar” for former President Obama because of his identity. “If you’re black and a woman, you can say dumb things,” he has also claimed, referring to California Senator and fellow presidential candidate Kamala Harris. “Lowered bar.”
Walsh now says that he regrets making such remarks about Trump’s predecessor. “I helped create Trump,” the White House hopeful told Stephanopoulos during This Week’s Sunday night broadcast. “The personal, ugly politics — I regret that, and I’m sorry for that.”
But does he regret what he said, or does he regret the fact that what he said will now make it much more difficult for him to become president? It’s likely the second thing, but it honestly doesn’t matter. This guy doesn’t stand a chance in hell of taking the nomination away from Trump, who unfortunately continues to enjoy strong support from Republican voters.
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