Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger has become something of a persona non grata within the GOP following his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. While Kinzinger hasn't shied away from speaking out against Trump and the far-right wing of his party, his fellow representatives have — and Kinzinger says he knows why: They are scared.
"The only thing that can happen is you lose, and you'll be replaced by somebody like a Marjorie Taylor Greene. And that's how these people [in Congress] convince themselves, 'Hey, the best thing I can do is go limp,'" the congressman said in an interview with Heard on the Hill on Tuesday.
For Kinzinger, his battle is not only for the soul of the Republican Party but for a democracy "under siege" and the future of the country as a whole. Yet, he says, it feels like he is fighting it virtually by himself.
"There are moments where I wake up and I'm like, why? Why am I the only one, am I doing something wrong?" he explained in the interview. Of course, he is not the only one, but he is certainly the loudest.
Nine other Republicans voted to impeach Trump for "incitement of insurrection." They instantly became the victim of the former president's – and his supporters' –wrath. Rep. Cheney lost her position as House GOP conference chair earlier this year, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez announced he would not be running for re-election following his current term due to the "toxic dynamics" in the party, and more generally, Trump's condemnation of the group has been persistent and targeted since the vote.
Despite the backlash, Kinzinger sees the need for a more concerted effort within the party to do the right thing.
"It's not the 10 of us who are going to save this democracy," he said. "It's the 190 who finally get fed up enough to say something."
His exhaustion, however, doesn't stem from his fights in Congress over issues like debt ceiling, or even from answering questions about his convictions, but rather from the beliefs of the far-right wing of his party.
"What I get tired of is watching every day a man — who if he's not close to insane, he sure knows how to play being insane — convincing people that truth doesn't matter," he said. "And then watching good friends who are military officers, college educated, spouting vaccine disinformation because it's a tattoo of their politics."