Adam Kinzinger wants to unplug the GOP ‘rage machine.’ A man can dream

A viable democracy needs at least two strong and competing political parties. It’s not great when one party has sold its soul to a lynch mob.

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Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois

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What is the Republican Party to do about Rep. Adam Kinzinger?

He is one of their own — a Republican! — yet he has had the audacity to say it is wrong to lie that the presidential election was stolen. He has criticized Donald Trump just for inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol. He has even ventured the incendiary notion that Washington is not secretly run by a Satanic ring of pedophiles.

What kind of Republican is this?

Former Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, who sits on the central committee of the Illinois Republican Party, sure would like to know, and you can understand his concern. Why is Kinzinger threatening the unity of his party for the sake of nothing more than decency and integrity? Since when do decency and integrity win elections?

“I think the party majority are kind of disappointed,” Claar told the Chicago Tribune. “I mean, the one thing I’ve heard most from Republicans over the years since Reagan is the old 11th Commandment” — never speak ill of other Republicans.

You have to wonder what Kinzinger’s game is.

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‘Put principles first’

On Sunday, Kinzinger launched a campaign called Country First to “take back” the Republican Party from conspiracy theorists, racists and fascist militias. He said the GOP should “put principles first” again and stand for “hope” instead of “outrage.”

Talk about crazy, fighting words.

“We stood for equality of opportunity, firm in our conviction that a poor kid from the South Side of Chicago deserves the same shot as a privileged kid from Highland Park,” Kinzinger said, looking back on the good old days of the Republican Party. “We knew that if we brought everybody into America’s promise we would unleash a new era of American progress and prosperity.”

Really, the guy’s just asking for it. He could not be more divisive.

“This is no time for silence,” Kinzinger also said, which just shows how out of touch he is. Silence is golden in today’s Republican Party, except among the haters and loons, because nobody wants to offend the fans of the haters and loons.

But what, then, is the Illinois GOP to do about Adam Kinzinger?

Kinzinger brazenly sane

This is a Republican congressman who brazenly argues that a president who has committed impeachable offenses should, in fact, be impeached.

This is a Republican in the House — the only Republican in the House — who says freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia should pay a price for being a death-wishing loon, as if being a death-wishing loon were a deal-breaker in the GOP. Kinzinger thinks she should be stripped of her committee posts.

So many Republicans who are troubled by Kinzinger’s open criticism of the party, with all his frightfully sane talk about unplugging the “rage machine,” have done nothing to call out Greene.

Rage works. Lies, too. What does he fail to understand about that?

Kinzinger can talk all he wants like a young Mitt Romney, full of thoughtful sentiments such as: “It’s time to turn back from the edge of darkness and return to the ideals that have long been our guiding light.” Good luck selling that in a Republican primary in 2022.

Or Kinzinger can wise up and, like Greene, start talking like a complete fool. He can say a California wildfire was started by a laser from space, school shootings were hoaxes and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should be executed for treason.

Back in her Georgia congressional district, talking stupid has made Greene a rock star.

Rumors of a once-noble GOP

But Kinzinger won’t have it. He’s got too much self-respect, a terrible trait in today’s GOP.

Kinzinger apparently still believes in the noble Republican Party we’ve read about in history books. The one that believes in rules, fair play and democracy, not personality cults and fascism-lite.

Kinzinger believes the “rage machine” will be the party’s death and, to give the man his due, maybe he’s on to something.

At least 30,000 appalled Republicans in six states changed their voter registration in the first weeks after the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol, according to The Hill, a publication that covers Congress. “Dozens” of members of former President George W. Bush’s administration are leaving the party, Reuters reported on Monday, because they are dismayed by the failure of their fellow Republicans to disown Donald Trump.

Wouldn’t it be something if Kinzinger were right? It boggles the mind, but wouldn’t it be stunning if tens of millions of Republicans gave up the ghost of Trumpism, remembered how their folks raised them and rallied around Kinzinger’s call for a more honest, principled, civilized and reality-based Republican Party?

Yes, we know. More Kinzinger crazy talk. The GOP is too far gone.

But a viable democracy needs at least two strong and competing political parties, and it’s no good at all when one of them has sold its soul to a lynch mob.

We’re rooting for Kinzinger and his Country First movement, no kidding.

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