Kinzinger warns of a Trump-led GOP using fear instead of truth to motivate voters

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Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune
·3 min read
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CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger warned Sunday that a Republican Party led by former President Donald Trump and supporters in party leadership will practice a politics of motivating voters through fear and urged the GOP to unify around truth and an optimistic future.

“Darkness has replaced light. Conspiracy has replaced truth. Division has replaced unity and worst of all, courage is fading and fear is rising,” Kinzinger, a Republican from Channahon, said in a new video on behalf of his “Country 1st” anti-Trump political action committee.

“Rather than dispel the fear, most of our leaders stoke it. Gone are the days of inspiration. Now they amplify fear for their own selfish gain. Yet what’s good for them is bad for the nation,” said Kinzinger, who turned 43 on Saturday. “Division is widening. Anger is growing. Fear creates more fear and it leads to the conflict that will tear America apart. Enough is enough.”

The sixth-term lawmaker was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol.

Kinzinger’s vote and subsequent actions to take on Trump supporters have earned him a sanction of disapproval from the Illinois GOP and censure motions by county GOP organizations within his 16th Congressional District. He also now has an announced 2022 primary opponent, Catalina Lauf of Woodstock, who finished third in an unsuccessful bid last year for the GOP nomination in the 14th Congressional District.

Kinzinger’s new video and an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” came as conservatives gathered in Orlando, Florida for the Conservative Action Political Conference to listen to the former president and his expected declaration that Republicans are united around him as party leader.

Trump, the congressman said, was about “self congratulations, not the ability to recognize that we have lost the House, the Senate and the presidency because of Donald Trump.”

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On CBS, Kinzinger noted Republicans like Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, as well as Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, took on Trump and the party establishment that backs him by telling “the truth.”

“That’s what America needs more of. They need more truth telling. They need more of out-of-fear and presenting light in the darkness and we have to start with our own party,” Kinzinger said.

“Every party, but now, especially, the Republican Party has to look inside after Jan. 6 and say what have we become, what’s our great history and how do we go forward,” Kinzinger said. “And I have to tell you, reaching out to Donald Trump and more of the same is not going to do that.”

In his second video since launching his “Country First” movement at the end of January, Kinzinger urged the rejection of “the politics of fear.”

“My faith in our nation is stronger than any fear or foe we may face because I know America is better than this. You know America is better than this,” he said.