Joe Walsh and Peter Roskam, Republican House colleagues and IL district neighbors these past two years, sure were a study in contrasts in this election.
The contrast is far more extensive than Walsh's loss to Tammy Duckworth by 20,000 votes and Roskam's win over Leslie Coolidge by 60,000 votes. Both Congressmen supported, down the line, the same Tea Party agenda that doomed the Romney-Ryan presidential ticket: decimate the social safety net to fund more tax cuts for the 2% wealthiest Americans, strip away the protections that Obamacare is finally giving the 40 million folks with no or inadequate health insurance, fire as many public workers as possible not connected to the Military-Industrial Complex, and senselessly interfere with the critical need of 160 million women for choice and reproductive health services. Walsh wore his support for these destructive policies like a badge of honor and sought every media opportunity possible to promote them. Roskam, by contrast, was almost invisible to the public in his support of these bizarre, destructive policies, but worked furiously behind the scenes as House Majority Chief Deputy Whip, to implement them over the principled resistance of the Obama Administration.
Most telling was the contrast between these legislators regarding the now institutionalized, and most anticipated facet or our wondrous electoral process: public debates between the candidates. Walsh, to his great credit, never hesitated. He debated his opponent Tammy Duckworth early and often. He showed up and he spoke up for this Tea Party beliefs with no apology and no regrets, even when his cruel and ludicrous comment that abortion is never needed to save a woman's life created a national firestorm of criticism and contributed to the Democratic landslide, both nationally, and here in Illinois.
And Roskam? He not only refused to debate, he virtually ignored even responding to the invitations to debate from challenger Leslie Coolidge, from the League of Women Voters, from individual district residents like me who called his campaign headquarters time and time again without getting a responsible answer.
As offensive as Joe Walsh's conduct as 8th District Congressman was -belligerency to his constituents and the media virtually unprecedented for a Congressman - he had the courage and integrity to tell us and show us exactly who he is and what he believes. From his conduct as Congressman these past six years we don't really know who Peter Roskam is and what he believes other than that he is a career politician who will keep as low a profile as possible to spend a lifetime making a fabulous living serving his fabulously wealthy base.
When it comes to integrity as a politician, Joe Walsh gets my vote over Peter Roskam, hands down.