Former congressman Joe Walsh will grab his musket if Trump loses

On the 26th of October, former Congressman, current talk-show host, and possible candidate for president, presuming that Clinton wins this year, Joe Walsh used Twitter to send out his intention to vote for Donald Trump on the 8th and to grab his musket on the 9th if the Republican nominee isn’t the winner.  He concluded his tweet by asking, “you in?”

In following exchanges on Twitter, Walsh clarified that he meant acts of civil disobedience.  When cautioned that the Secret Service wouldn’t take comments about firearms and elected politicians lightly, he said, “they understand that a musket hasn’t been used in battle in almost 200 years.”  He also said that he could have suggested a slingshot instead of a musket, adding that “We’re going to protest and boycott and practice civil disobedience. We may start a third party.”

A third party, says he?  It seems to me that I’ve heard of such things before.  As appealing as alternatives to the Republican and Democratic nominees are this year, we have to face the fact that the American political system isn’t conducive to letting third parties join the fun.  If we had parliaments on the national and state levels, various political organizations could unite to form a majority that would select the country’s leader, but in our arrangement, presidents come from parties that have large influence.  Our major parties are big-tent affairs to achieve this influence, while third parties tend to have ideological purity and therefore much smaller support.

The concept of civil disobedience has traditionally been regarded as non-violent.  Sitting down in a government office or a public roadway is an act of disobedience to the rules of social order, but it doesn’t suggest active harm being done.  By contrast, violence against the society is civil war if enough people can be convinced to take part.  Recall that Henry David Thoreau felt free in a jail cell after refusing to pay a tax to support the Mexican-American War.  He didn’t take up arms — muskets, slingshots, or otherwise.

But all right, perhaps Walsh named his musket as a historical reference, not to armed rebellion so much as to our cultural value of independence and self-reliance.  If that were his intention, he could have named a pen or a pamphlet or a political platform to make the same argument.  Disobedience doesn’t have to be an unauthorized march down a street that people want to use.  While the protests of that type draw the attention of the evening news, they don’t achieve much else without convincing those who aren’t on the streets carrying signs.

And in that regard, Walsh may get his wish in the eventuality that Clinton wins.  The Republicans in Congress have eight years of experience in obstructing the plans of a Democratic president, and while Obama was a relative unknown in 2008, Clinton is someone the right wing has despised for a long time.

What Walsh needs to consider is that the revolution we need is not against Clinton herself, but against the defects in our political system that allowed someone like her to earn the nomination of a major party.  When politicians can say to Wall Street bankers that they have one position for the powerful and another for ordinary Americans, and when their party organizations promote them and voters accept them, we are in trouble.  And that’s what we need to solve.

Once that’s done, we won’t have candidates like Clinton to worry about.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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