Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Exclusive: Former Representative Adam Kinzinger encourages citizens to put country over party

NewsCampus NewsExclusive: Former Representative Adam Kinzinger encourages citizens to put country over party

BY
Staff Reporter

BY
Staff Reporter

On Jan. 6, 2020, Adam Kinzinger took his gun to his office in Congress, a decision he had never made before. With tensions at an all-time high, Kinzinger, unlike many of his fellow Republicans, prepared for the violence that would ensue.

Three years later, The Review sat down with the former Illinois Representative in anticipation of his soon-to-be-released memoir to discuss his key vision for America’s future: bipartisanship.

“I want people walking away just saying, ‘How can I be a better contributor to a stronger country, stronger democracy?’,” Kinzinger said regarding his hopes for the memoir.

“Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country” talks of his tenure in Congress and most recently of his role as one of only two Republicans on the “United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.” In his words, the memoir is meant to remind readers “that democracy is fragile, … that we have to work very hard on it, [and] that the Republican Party has completely lost its way.” 

According to the Pew Research Center, only “four-in-ten Americans (41%) have a very or somewhat favorable view of the Democratic Party, while even fewer (37%) have a favorable impression of the Republican Party.”

Having maintained his seat in Congress for 12 years, Kinzinger insisted that “[our] country needs two strong parties,” but he also believes it’s time for “people to be able to look and say, ‘What can I do differently?’”

The importance of asking these questions, he said, is to encourage bipartisanship, foster open-minded dialogue and break the gridlock that afflicts American politics. Kinzinger described this as an experience in which one can feel like “they’re losing” but ultimately hopes these conversations work to inspire a fresh surge of the patriotism that he works and lives by.

Following the tragedies of 9/11, Kinzinger joined the United States Air Force where he served on a multitude of missions and was stationed twice in Iraq. While no longer on active duty, Lieutenant Colonel Kinzinger remains a member of the Air National Guard.

As a former member of the House Republican Conference and in conjunction with his extensive    military tenure, Kinzinger holds a unique perspective in the amphitheater of political discussion.  

Similar to many Americans and university students, the representative has found himself in the midst of a political war that only seems to become angrier. Bearing this in mind, his advice once again to young Americans was to “talk to people that hold different opinions than your own. And listen.”

In line with this, Kinzinger spoke of his time on the Jan. 6 attacks committee and described “the unique moment of the committee,” calling it “a model of how to do things, and … something that we ought to take very seriously.”  

The former Representative recounted the true bipartisan nature of the committee, expressing how every member worked together in the name of the committee’s true duty and goal.

Drawing from his experience on the committee, Kinzinger founded Country First, a nonpartisan, nonprofit dedicated to “seeking understanding, collaboration, and common ground – [so that] we can achieve durable, proven solutions and put our Country First.”  

Kinzinger told The Review that his present goal with Country First is to foster bipartisan solutions, ultimately seeking to “revolutionize American politics.”

To this end, Kinzinger even went as far as to say he “voted Democrat last election, [and] will probably vote Democrat this one.”

In his final statements, former Representative Kinzinger lifted back the sleeve of his pressed shirt, exposing a metal band engraved with a name, sitting on his wrist. The bracelet reads ‘Andreas O’Keefe,’ a friend of Kinzinger’s that was killed in Iraq in 2018. Kinzinger served alongside O’Keefe in Iraq nine years earlier, and, to this day, Kinzinger wears this bracelet “as a reminder.”

“I remember thinking, if I’m going to take votes that are going to cause people to die in service to their country …  I have absolutely no right to ever worry about my career if the country’s on the line,” Kinzinger reflected.

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