ROCK FALLS – The country is broke, and there’s more than one group of people to blame for it.
So says outspoken former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, who spoke to members of the Sauk Valley Tea Party Tuesday night at the Rock Falls Eagles Club.
“The next time a politician tells you we’re $16 trillion in debt, throw something at ‘em,” the conservative tea party Republican said. “We’re north of $100 trillion in debt. We don’t know what that means. That’s so much money.
“We’re broke and we’re broken.”
So who is to blame for the sad state of affairs?
First, politicians – Republicans and Democrats, he said.
“When you’re a politician, all you want to do is get re-elected,” he said. “Springfield, D.C., doesn’t matter. Your goal in life is to get re-elected.”
Walsh failed to do that himself. He was defeated in November by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, after serving one term in the former 8th Congressional District in Lake and McHenry counties.
He’s hinted at taking a run at Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, and when asked Tuesday if he was going to run for governor, Walsh said he’s spreading his message across the state and looking at his options.
He did say President Barack Obama’s campaign team won his re-election for a reason: “They really targeted three groups of people – young people, single women and minorities. If you look at what Obama did, he spent his whole campaign targeting those people and giving them things.”
Walsh also blames the media, which he says “pushes big government,” for the nation’s state of affairs.
The American people aren’t without fault, either, Walsh said.
“I said 2 weeks ago at a town hall, I think we’ve grown stupid. I think the American people have grown lazy, the American people have gotten uninformed, ill-informed, uneducated, lazy, and yeah, we have too many of us that are just plain stupid.
“We don’t pay attention.”
As a solution to the failing economy and massive debt, Walsh offered his own Freedom movement. In it, he’s asking people to join his pledge to vote for candidates that adhere to five tenets: that they cut taxes and allow citizens to keep more of their own money; diminish government’s influence in peoples’ lives; reduce the nation’s debt; “respect God-given liberties” and refuse to become career politicians.
Walsh refers to it as the “I am ready to grow up and be free” movement because he wants residents to be responsible for themselves, their families and their communities.
Sheryl Noble and her husband, Don, of Rock Falls, were in the audience.
“I don’t know about a third party,” said Sheryl, 65, referring to Walsh’s push for candidates who would agree to follow the Freedom movement. “I hope that would work; America’s got to do something right now. We don’t like national debt; we don’t like the foreign aid.”
Sheryl said she has written to her congressmen in the past and received form letters in response. Nothing ever gets done, she said.
“We feel like we’re out here in the fields of Illinois and we’re stuck, and nobody’s listening.” Don, 76, said he liked what Walsh had to say.
“I just wish that [there were] more politicians that thought the same way he thinks,” Don said. “I think the country would be in a lot better shape than what it is.”