Republican Rep. Joe Walsh may have lost reelection last month, but at his final town hall meeting Saturday he showed he had lost none of the passion that made him a tea party favorite in Congress.
More than 100 mostly ardent supporters squeezed into the Wauconda American Legion Hall to hear Walsh, R-McHenry, rail against President Obama, big government and politicians of both parties.
“Our country is going through a revolution,” said Walsh, his voice rising to a shout. “Our freedom is at risk of being lost. If that happens, we’ll have government take over everything and take what you have.”
Walsh spoke nostalgically of an America he described as much more self-sufficient and independent than today. Back then, he said, people cared for the elderly and the unemployed without government assistance.
“That’s the America I believe in,” Walsh said. “We were stronger 80 years ago.”
The congressman lost decisively to Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the hotly contested battle over Illinois’ 8th Congressional District. During his one term in office, Walsh became known for his anti-Obama rhetoric, a controversy over delinquent child support payments and for his fiery constituent meetings, where he sometimes lost his temper.
On Saturday, he made it clear he would not leave Washington quietly. He said Republicans were afraid to stand up to Obama’s call for increased taxes on families earning more than $250,000 because they did not want to be labeled as the party of the rich.
Walsh predicted an agreement would be reached over the U.S. budget deficit before the so-called “fiscal cliff” of massive tax increases and spending cuts takes effect next month.“We’ll be there in Washington through Christmas and beyond,” Walsh said. “We’re not doing anything but twiddling our thumbs and waiting for Boehner and Obama to come out with a deal. I think there’ll be revenue but not really any spending cuts. I don’t think I’ll like it or support it.”
Many in the standing-room-only crowd said they had voted for Walsh and had come to wish him well.
“Just because Joe lost that doesn’t mean the fight doesn’t go on,” said George Christy, 50, of Barrington.
Walsh vowed to continue the fight in the few weeks he has left as a congressman.
“We began three years ago,” he said. “Be patient and be engaged. Nothing changes over night. We’ll either lose the flag or get it back.”