Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois has already said he will not seek another term in the House—though he has left open the possibility of returning to political office at some point in the future. A big part of this play is that Kinzinger, along with neo-conservatives like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), are battling to regain control over a political party now inundated with more flagrantly corrupt, more flagrantly authoritarian, and more flagrantly incompetent officials like Sen. Josh Hawley and Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) ascending to prominence. There was a time when people who acted and spoke like Louie Gohmert weren’t the majority.
As a result, Kinzinger and Cheney have been censured by the Republican Party for their participation in the single most important investigation of an attempted coup d’etat in recent memory. Kinzinger has hit the media circuit to make the case for democracy. Speaking on CNN and MSNBC in interviews on Monday, Kinzinger slammed everyone from Donald Trump to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Unlike other anti-MAGA, anti-Big Lie conservatives, Kinzinger isn’t running for office and has decided he is going to hit his fellow Republicans where it hurts: with the truth.
On CNN, Kinzinger spoke about having a newborn son at home and the world he hopes his son grows up in, and whether or not his son would be proud of his decisions in the past year. Asked what he will tell his son about Donald Trump when he’s older, Kinzinger was simple but to the point: ”I will tell him he is the worst president the United States ever had. He was a liar and a charlatan, and he was the most fragile ego I ever met.“ The truth meter is pretty high on that statement. Whether or not Trump is the worst president in U.S. history is definitely debatable, but he is easily one of the worst presidents in our country’s history.
But Kinzinger’s continued appeal to the decency of his fellow Republicans has fallen on deaf ears, it seems. Kinzinger lamented this while also trying to remind everyone of how important a moment in our history as a country this all is. As such, Kinzinger hopes and believes there will be a reckoning. “I want them to know how they voted on January 6. In five or 10 years, it will be hard to explain if you're not on the side of the truth.”
On Sunday Morning Joe over at MSNBC, Kinzinger was asked about his off-the-record conversations with Republicans who claim to agree with him that Trump and others pushing the Big Lie are wrong. Kinzinger’s response was telling. He first said that the GOP officials he imagined he was being asked about weren’t the people he’s spoken to in his party that are “crazy.”
From there he said he hears a lot of rationalizing over campaign fears. “I just have to win my primary because trust me, the guy I'm running against is really bad.” Kinzinger points out that this isn’t much of an excuse, saying: “At some point you have to stand up.” Kinzinger says he sometimes receives pushback from officials telling him that they know how to do their job and that they’re more of “the local person,” whatever that bit of BS is supposed to mean to them. Kinzinger says when he hears this kind of thing, he realizes that his “friends” don’t have a “red line they won’t cross,” and that this isn’t sufficient in a fight for our democracy. “Silence is complicity.”
When McCarthy and his censure of Cheney and Kinzinger is brought up, the Illinois representative is withering in his description of the minority leader: “He is the weakest leader, frankly, that has ever existed in that position.”
After taking a shot at the Donald’s fragility, Kinzinger goes on: "I don't get the hurt feelings that Donald Trump gets on a daily basis.” He then made one of his most important points: The January 6 committee is nonpartisan by nature of what it is investigating, and any attack on the committee as simply partisan is disrespectful to what a working democracy should look like.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER: This is not the left wing against the right wing. This is authoritarianism—you can call it even moments of fascism—against democracy. And even as bad as the violence was over the summer during the riots, that at no point threatened the self-governance of the United States like the self-governance of the United States was threatened on January 6. There is no false equivalence, no matter how much the victim and hurt feelings king Donald Trump likes to say.
On the one hand, Cheney and Kinzinger are 100 percent right in the pursuit of the truth of what happened, who knew what, and who was planning what on that day. Rightly, Cheney and Kinzinger have pointed to the need for the Republican Party writ large to take a stance against the tyranny people like Donald Trump represent. On the other hand, considering their moves against things like voting rights, it is hard not to look at some of their animosity towards their fellow Republicans with a healthy amount of cynicism. But the stakes are so high at this point it is a good thing that they are on the side of punishing January 6 conspirators.
Kinzinger's statement to Republican voters and Republican officials is something I think everyone can support: “This is a defining moment in American politics and the RNC’s future. Are you for authoritarianism, are you against democracy, or are you going to wake up to that slide and come back to actual democracy again?”
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos