When it comes to who is running the GOP, the general consensus in Washington, D.C. is that former President Donald Trump is still the head of the party.
“This is the party of Donald Trump. If you think otherwise, you’re in for a rude awakening,” Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) told Fox News in July.
”I’d be shocked if somebody said right now there’s a leader in the Republican party more influential than Donald Trump –and I think it’s good that he’s in charge,” Florida State Representative Sabatini said. (View Sabatini’s full interview with Straight Arrow News here.)
Former Republicans, like former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, are echoing that sentiment.
It’s Trump’s party,” Walsh said. “If he runs, and I think he will, nobody will challenge him for the nomination. Nobody.”
Democratic leaders agree.
“We have a Republican Party that is now an autocratic cult around Donald Trump,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced on CBS’ Face the Nation in October.
Polling from the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Republicans want Trump to retain major political control and almost half want him to run in 2024.
Walsh, who ran for president as a Republican in 2020, said this is why he decided to leave the party.
I think the party is screwed,” Walsh said. ”I think this party’s done. And I think the sooner that it formally dies, the better. And for those of us who were Republicans because we believed in free markets and limited government and opportunity for all, we’re not going to find that with this Republican party.”
Walsh doesn’t believe the GOP can recover from Trump’s campaign and presidency.
“They created this monster called Donald Trump for the past six years,” Walsh said. “They’ve never held him accountable. They’ve enabled him and they’ve assisted him as he has gone about destroying this democracy.”
Walsh is one of a handful of traditional Republicans who believe it’s time to start a new ‘center-right’ party.
“I’m tired of people sitting around, standing around, twiddling their thumbs, talking about what we need to do,” Walsh said. “Quit talking. Go out and do something. We are at a unique moment in American history, where one of our two major political parties is imploding before our very eyes. If this isn’t the time to start a new political party, then I don’t know when is.”
Third parties have rarely been successful in American history, but Walsh thinks there is an appetite for one now.
“The Democratic Party, I respect the Democrats a lot, but they’re not where most Americans are, and I think the energy in the Democratic Party is on the progressive wing,” he said. “Most Americans, and you know, are right here in the middle. ‘Let’s get stuff done.’ I think a party that was centered around that has an audience.”
Walsh hopes a new party will address some of the issues he thinks the GOP ignored.
“The reason we got Trump is because the Republican base had been crying out for years. They had some concerns and some fears and the party establishment ignored them,” Walsh explained. “The party establishment was very elitist and out of touch, and because they ignored their base for years, along came a demagogue like Donald Trump and he grabbed them. So I don’t think we’re ever going back to that beautiful think tank, free market, Reagan kind of Republican party.”
Not everybody agrees with Walsh about the future of the GOP. A Morning Consult poll found that if the Republican primary was held today, 47 percent of people would vote for Trump.
Annie Andersen Thank you so much for doing this for me. Um, I just will get right down to it. Tell me what are your thoughts on the GOP right now? Joe Walsh I think any I think the party is screwed. I’d like to use a stronger word than that, but I won’t they. They created this monster called Donald Trump for the past six years. They’ve never held him accountable. They’ve enabled him and they’ve assisted him as he has gone about destroying this democracy. And now here we are six years later, he’s been out of office now six or seven months, and he still has the party by the short hairs. And that’s not going to change anytime soon. So the Republican Party is really screwed. Annie Andersen And for this, I know that with a group that you’re part of, there’s one thought to make a different faction of the GOP and another thought of starting an entirely new center right party, which side do you kind of want to do? Joe Walsh I I wrote an article maybe three or four months ago and he I think it’s time to just plant our flag and start a new party. I’m tired of people sitting around standing around twiddling their thumbs, talking about what we need to do quit talking. Go out and do something. We are at a unique moment in American history, where one of our two major political parties is imploding before our very eyes. If this isn’t the moment to start a new political party then I don’t know whenever is. Annie Andersen A lot of people have come out against former President Trump following the instruction. You did it before that you ran for president against him back in 2020. Tell me what ideally with this new party and with your platform, what are with your election and race? What do you hope the new platform is? Joe Walsh You know, it should be kind of a radically sense, a radically centrist common sense. Let’s get stuff done party where most Americans are the Republican Party has become an authoritarian embracing cult. I left the party formally a year, year and a half ago. The Democratic Party I respect the Democrats a lot, but they’re not where most Americans are and I think the energy in the Democratic Party is on the progressive wing. Most Americans and you know are right here in the middle. Let’s get stuff done. I think a party that that that was centered around that has an audience. Annie Andersen Um, for years, the Republican Party has been the party of Reagan, you know, social, I’m sorry, fiscal conservativeness. What are your thoughts on returning just those basics of the part of the party structure? Joe Walsh Well, I don’t think the Republican Party can ever get back there. I think and it’s always helpful to understand why we got Trump and I voted for Trump in 2016. I’m not an original Never Trump or the Republican establishment didn’t like me at all. The reason we got Trump is because the Republican base had been crying out for years they had some concerns and some fears and the party establishment ignored them. The party establishment was very elitist and out of touch, and because they ignored their base for years along came a demagogue like Donald Trump and he grabbed them. So I don’t think we’re ever going back to that beautiful Think Tank, pre market Reagan kind of Republican Party that I belonged to. I think that can be part of the new party that comes along a center right, center left party Annie Andersen at CPAC. President Trump won their straw poll with 70%. Obviously that is most of his base, but there are rumors that he’s going to run again. Do you think that he might win again? Joe Walsh I think he will run again if he can. I think he wants to run again. Look, again, I’m an unusual never Trumper because I come from Trump world. And I still engage with the GOP base every day. I hear from 1000s of them every day. There. It’s Trump’s party here and he if he runs and I think he will, nobody will challenge him for the nomination. Nobody DeSantis all of this stuff below. Wait until I don’t think Trump can get elected again. But he’d win the Republican Party nomination. In a heartbeat. That wouldn’t be a challenge. That that’s why we began this interview. None of the Republicans want that. privately. All of the Republican members of Congress want Trump to go away. But he’s got them by the short hairs he can do. Whatever he wants. Annie Andersen So just it seems recap kind of you think that the GOP is lost and gone at this point to get back to the values of the traditional GOP it’s the center right Alliance then Joe Walsh I think Andy again, I’m older than you and I’m probably more pessimistic than you. I’m an old dark Irishman. I think the party’s done. I think this republic and the sooner that it formally dies, the better. And for those of us who who were Republicans because we believed in free markets. And limited government and opportunity for all, we’re not going to find any of that with this Republican Party. It’s got to be somewhere new this party and he cannot be reformed. Annie Andersen Tell me Is there anything I forgotten to ask that you would like to add? Joe Walsh No, I apologize. Any that I have such a dark vision. But again, part of what makes me different is I still hear from the base of the party every day. And we talk about all the crazy stuff that Trump says the base believes it. They don’t believe by one they don’t believe January six was a big deal the base and they don’t trust the vaccines. So Trump is right where the base of the party is. Can’t be fixed.