Joe Walsh's Tweet About What He'll Do If Donald Trump Loses Is Exactly What Voters Were Afraid Of
On Wednesday, former Republican congressman and conservative radio host Joe Walsh tweeted an alarming message about the aftermath of November's election. Seeming to imply the violence that many voters have come to fear from supporters of Republican nominee Donald Trump, Walsh shared that he would apparently be "grabbing [his] musket" on Nov. 9 if Trump loses the election. Later, he claimed to have been speaking "metaphorically," insisting that he was only encouraging civil disobedience and not violence. Still, it's rhetoric like Walsh's that has caused many Americans to feel understandably apprehensive about the uproar that could ensue after the election results are announced.
Walsh served one term as the congressman from Illinois' 8th district from 2011 to 2013, until he was ousted in the 2012 elections by Democratic candidate Tammy Duckworth. He currently hosts his own eponymous, conservative radio show on WIND in Chicago.
Throughout the election season, he has remained outspokenly supportive of Trump. In fact, his personal Twitter feed sometimes resembles that of GOP nominee himself, with tweets that name-call, demonstrate an affinity for the Caps Lock button, and end in an exclamation point. He's also called the media "rigged" and the Affordable Care Act a "joke." Those comments aside, a particularly inflammatory tweet on Wednesday threw him into the headlines most recently.
The tweet seemed to very clearly imply that Walsh would bear arms (i.e., by "grabbing [his] musket") if Trump lost the election. However, Walsh later clarified to Yahoo! News that he was only "talking metaphorically." Rather, he claimed, his tweet implied acts of civil disobedience.
"I'm not talking about inciting violence," Walsh told Yahoo News. "I'm saying, 'If Trump loses, man, game on, grab your musket. We're going to protest. We're going to boycott. We're going to picket. We're going to march on Washington. We're going to stop paying taxes. We're going to practice civil disobedience.'"
Walsh offered similar responses on social media, reminding one Twitter user that muskets went out of style long ago.
Walsh may not have meant to incite legitimate violence, but it's not a far-fetched conclusion after reading his tweet in the context of the election discourse. Trump himself has repeatedly called the political system "rigged." According to The Washington Post, he event told an Ohio crowd that he would only accept the election results if he wins.
Bolstered by this rhetoric, Trump supporters have reportedly referenced violence in their own comments about the election. For instance, The Boston Globe quoted one Trump rally-goer as saying, "If [Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is] in office, I hope we can start a coup. ... There's going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that's what it's going to take." Although many Trump supporters have pledged not to resort to violence if their candidate loses the election, the strong rhetoric by many Trumpers is enough to scare concerned voters.
Ultimately, Walsh, Trump, and their supporters won't know the results of the election for another two weeks. The good news: This election is almost over. The bad news: The rhetoric may not be.