Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the University


Sidney Malone

Former Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker speaks at the Illini Union on Tuesday. Walker now serves as the president for Young America’s Foundation.

By Rebecca Oriza, Contributing Writer

Tuesday evening, former Gov. of Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker, visited the University to give an hour-long speech in the Illini Union. Walker’s apperance was organized by the Young Americans for Freedom at the University, the governor being the first speaker the YAF has invited. 

By 6:30 p.m., a few people were waiting for the doors to open. With about 50 people in attendance, there was a mix of students in the YAF, non-members and community members.  

Walker currently serves as the president of the YAF national, and the University was one of 28 stops across the nation as part of a speech series alongside conservative talk show radio host, Larry Elder.

In his speech, Walker said the YAF’s mission is “to train the next generation of leaders in the fight for freedom, individual liberties, economic freedoms, strong national defense and traditional America.”

In 2011, Walker garnered national attention when he became the first governor to continue serving in office after facing a recall election. Over 900,000 signatures were gathered, but Walker still beat his democrat opponent. Walker described what he admired about that moment in his career.

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“That’s what’s great about America. You can actually protest your government without your retribution,” Walker said in his speech. “But, I’m not going to let the voices around the capitol drown out the people around the state who hired me to do that job.”

Walker thanked the University for allowing the event to take place. He mentioned a growing number of institutions declined to host him.

“The U.S. constitution guarantees freedom of speech whether you agree with it or not,” Walker said. “It is often most endangered on college campuses where it should be most revered.”

The theme of Walker’s speech was his belief that Democrats are trying to divide America through culture, COVID-19 and the Constitution. 

In his speech, Walker criticized the Democrats’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He called them hypocrites and gave examples of politicians such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Gov. Gavin Newsom who he said didn’t wear masks in public. 

Walker also said he always took COVID-19 seriously and once quarantined with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

The speech was followed by a Q&A session, with some questions bringing up controversial topics. When asked about his thoughts on the LGBTQ+ community, Walker said America allows for many different opinions.

“The great thing in America is you can have different views and different opinions,” Walker said. “America doesn’t have a clear litmus test on religious, political and theological beliefs. People may disagree on those issues, but they still have the same rights here in the United States.”

Walker had previously launched a presidential campaign for the 2016 Republican nomination, although he quickly dropped out. In his speech, Walker said the possibility of running in the future wasn’t out of the question.

“I’m 25 years younger than Joe Biden, so I think I got plenty of time to figure that one out,” Walker said. “So for the next few years, I’m going to do this (YAF). I enjoy being on campuses, but someday, maybe.”

When Michael Frank, junior in LAS, asked about the 2020 election, Walker raised concerns about how the election committee didn’t properly carry out their duties, specifically in his state, Wisconsin. Frank was not satisfied with Walker’s response. 

“I wanted to know something like whether Trump won, or Biden won,” Frank said. “He didn’t take a stance really. I’m just sad, you know, but it’s politics.”

Community member Laura Kenneth said she was glad no conflict arised during Walker’s speech. 

“It was very nice to be able to enjoy it without a bunch of people who wanted to talk during it, make a dramatic walkout or chant things in order to stop people from hearing the speech,” Kenneth said.

Bailey Parks-Moore, senior in ACES and a co-chair in the YAF expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to hold the event.

“We’re trying to just promote the idea that we have different ideas than a lot of students on our campus, and we’re really grateful for the opportunity to be able to show that tonight,” Parks-Moore said.

Gov. Walker’s final message to students was about the importance of free speech.

“I hope in general everybody can find a way to stand up for free speech because it’s only guaranteed in our constitution,” Walker said. “It helps you grow and understand and either reinforce your own beliefs or tweak them along the way. If you’re only monolithic, then you’re never going to experience the wide variety of different views and backgrounds.”


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