[guest post by Dana]
As someone who has been squeezed by family members from both the Trump camp and the progressive camp because of my non-Trumpian-non-progressive brand of politics, I read with interest this profile of Rep. Adam Kinzinger:
A new profile on Congressman Adam Kinzinger, one of the few House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, reveals that several family members actually sent him a handwritten letter criticizing his condemnation of the former president’s actions that led to the riots at the Capitol.
Kinzinger spoke to the New York Times about his efforts to get the GOP to move on from Trump, but the report also highlights how he’s received criticism not just from fellow Republicans but from family members.
Lest you think that Kinzinger leaked the letter to the press to get back at family members, think again:
The author of the letter was Karen Otto, Mr. Kinzinger’s cousin, who paid $7 to send it by certified mail to Mr. Kinzinger’s father — to make sure the congressman would see it, which he did. She also sent copies to Republicans across Illinois, including other members of the state’s congressional delegation.
“I wanted Adam to be shunned,” she said in an interview.
The letter begins by telling Kinzinger that he is a disappointment both to his family and to God and that he has embarrassed the Kinzinger family name. It continues in the same vein:
We were once so proud of your accomplishments! Instead, you go against your principles and join the “devil’s army” (Democrats and the fake news media)…President Trump is not perfect. But neither are you or any of us for that matter! It is not for us to judge, or be judged. But he is a Christian.
Family signators then unwittingly bestowed a medal of honor on the representative:
“You should be very proud that you have lost the respect of Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Greg Kelly, etc., and most importantly in our book, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh and us!”
Anyway, you get the picture.
For his part, Kinzinger understands that there is nothing he can do about how his family members view him:
Mr. Kinzinger said he has little desire to reach out to the loudest critics in his district’s Republican organizations, whom he hasn’t spoken to in years and said hold little sway over voters. The letter-writers in his family, he said, suffer from “brainwashing” from conservative churches that have led them astray.
“I hold nothing against them,’’ he said, “but I have zero desire or feel the need to reach out and repair that. That is 100 percent on them to reach out and repair, and quite honestly, I don’t care if they do or not.”
What he is interested in these days, is seeing the Republican party divorced from Trump. He understands that any efforts to fix the party is an uphill battle at this point in time. And he also understands that he could easily become a casualty of the party that he is trying to re-make:
He began a new political action committee with a six-minute video declaring the need to re-format the Republican Party into something resembling an idealized version of George W. Bush’s party — with an emphasis on lower taxes, hawkish defense and social conservatism — without the grievances and conspiracy theories that Mr. Trump and his allies have made central to the party’s identity.
To do so, Mr. Kinzinger said in an interview, requires exposing the fear-based tactics he hopes to eradicate from the party and present an optimistic alternative.
“We just fear,” he said. “Fear the Democrats. Fear the future. Fear everything. And it works for an election cycle or two. The problem is it does real damage to this democracy.”
As to his own future in the party, Mr. Kinzinger said he will know by the end of the summer whether he can remain a Republican for the long term or whether he will be motivated to change his party affiliation if it becomes clear to him that Mr. Trump’s allies have become a permanent majority.
“The party’s sick right now,” he said. “It’s one thing if the party was accepting of different views, but it’s become this massive litmus test on everything. So it’s a possibility down the road, but it’s certainly not my intention, and I’m going to fight like hell to save it first.”
No matter how it shakes out, I’m sure Kinzinger, who has already been censured by his party for his vote to impeach Trump, will land on his feet and be just fine. However, I’m not so sure about his family members who signed the letter.