CHICAGO — Tea Party favorite Joe Walsh says conservatives are losing the "war" for U.S. voters and encouraged his backers at a South Loop rally to engage in civil disobedience to defy the Affordable Care Act or new gun regulations.
At his most aggressive, he told dozens of supporters to "defy and or break the law and engage in civil disobedience" if faced with federal health care law restrictions or new gun laws.
He paraphrased Thomas Jefferson in saying, "We may have to shed blood every couple hundred years to preserve our freedoms."
The one-term McHenry County congressman, who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Tammy Duckworth in November, openly contemplated breaking away from the Republican Party during a Wednesday rally at Blackie's, 755 S. Clark St.
And in the end of the rally he began organizing a statewide movement he said would "scare Republicans and Democrats."
"No rah rahs," he said as he kicked off his address with tough love. "We're losing."
Conservatives are losing to progressives, he said, because "our side doesn't understand we're at war."
Walsh said there is a battle between the old values of freedom against the new emphasis on government control. "These two Americas are having it out," he said, adding it was the old, traditional conception of America against the new, progressive America.
"I do want to go back," he said.
Although he talked tough politically, saying, "We have no Republican Party in this state — none," he added, "I'm not there yet with a third-party movement."
He also said, "Don't yet give up on the Republican Party."
He announced no plans to run again for public office, but did say he would spend the next months traveling the state and meeting supporters — and asking them to each bring another two back to ensuing meetings.
"By May, June, July, August, we're going to have a movement in this state that's going to scare Republicans and Democrats," Walsh said.
"I went through hell the last year," Walsh said. "It was the most difficult year of my life." He said his personal life was laid bare by the media scrutiny and political attacks, but said being "willing to lose" was just part politics.
He insisted the Tea Party makes up a majority of the so-called silent Americans and emphasized a platform based on freedom and personal responsibility manifested in four political aims: to cut taxes; limit the size, scope and influence of government; remove debt and respect the rule of law.
"We need our own Scott Walker," he said of the controversial Wisconsin governor, but he did not say he aspired to that position in Illinois.