FlipBlue hosted former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., also a former presidential candidate, Thursday evening to talk about “political homelessness,” the future of American politics and crossing the political divide. 

Ethan Story, LSA sophomore and director of policy and research for FlipBlue, moderated the conversation and acknowledged Walsh’s unique perspective.

“Speaking personally here, he’s one of my favorite follows on Twitter,” Story said. “I really appreciate his perspective as someone who left the Republican party on Trumpism.”

Once he realized his participation in the Tea Party, a fiscally conservative movement by some members of the Republican Party founded in 2009, fed into the political divide, Walsh said he began using his social media platform to combat polarization in the Republican Party. He said Republicans who do not align with Trump’s ideals should align themselves with what he called “political homelessness” or identify as  independent.

“Temporarily, right now our home is right here in the middle, maybe building a new centrist party,” Walsh said. “This is a weird time in politics. I think it is a revolutionary period. We could have a few independents running for Congress next year.”

Walsh went on to discuss difficulties he experienced after he publicly opposed former President Donald Trump in 2019 after previously supporting Trump. He shared how he lost his radio-show, received threats and lost friends and much of his following.

“It’s why most don’t (speak up against Trump),” Walsh said. “It is really difficult to live with (dissent), but that is what you have to be ready for if you are going to do what you think is right.”

Walsh also talked about the different ways citizens and college students can make efforts to cross political divides in their own time. Walsh said people need to understand the right political wing and make an effort to have conversations across the political divide. Walsh said polarization first arises at a personal level and encouraged the public to widen their point of view outside of their political affiliation to understand where others are coming from.

“You either watch Fox News or you watch MSNBC,” Walsh said. “We all go into our corners everyday. How do we begin to break that? We listen to and pay attention to a variety of news sources.”

Walsh explained how both centrist and left-leaning democrats have the unique opportunity in the current political climate to have conversations with moderate conservatives about how the country can move forward from Trumpism. 

Andrew Schaeffler, LSA sophomore and FlipBlue board member, told The Daily he agrees with Walsh’s thoughts on political cooperation.

“You don’t have to agree with someone to come together with them, and I think that is a really good message in politics today as well as what he echoed in terms of being able to build these coalitions in any form,” Schaeffler said.

Walsh then said the future of the political landscape in the U.S. will not fare well if the country remains divided. He emphasized that though there is a grand opportunity for political coalition, the country still has a long way to go.

“Things are going to be bumpy and rocky for a number of election cycles,” Walsh said. “We are not talking to each other. People are not speaking across the divide. I would just say, be patient. This is one of those weird, difficult moments in American history where politically, things are going to be really rocky for a long time.”

Daily Staff Reporter Vanessa Kiefer can be reached at vkiefer@umich.edu

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