U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger represents the 16th District, just south of Chicago. His first day in Congress was Jan. 3, 2011, when the young conservative walked into the House chamber as an unknown military pilot and former member of the McLean County Board. This week, the 44-year-old congressman delivered his farewell address with ringing alarm bells.
Kinzinger, who sacrificed his political career — at least for now — for standing against the MAGA wing and speaking out against lies and election denial and condemned the corrosive effects of conspiracy theories that started during the Trump presidency and led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, warned that U.S. democracy “will fall into the ash heap of history” if both Republicans and Democrats don’t correct course.
“Our democracy,” said Kinzinger, “is not functioning,” he said in his last speech on the House floor on Thursday, adding that he had wanted to end his time in Congress with the country in better shape than when he started, but “I cannot in good conscience say that I have done that.”
He accused members of Congress of “turning the institution into an echo chamber of lies,” singing out fellow Republicans for “embracing lies and deceit.”
“Where Republicans once believed that limited government meant lower taxes and more autonomy, today limited government means inciting violence against government officials,” Kinzinger said.
“Following the tragic Oklahoma City bombing, former President George H. W. Bush publicly refuted those who used fear to gain support. In stark contrast, our leaders today belittle, and in some cases justify, attacks on the U.S. Capitol as “legitimate political discourse. The once great party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan has turned its back on the ideals of liberty and self-governance. Instead, it has embraced lies and deceit.”
“The Republican Party used to believe in a big tent, which welcomed the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Now we shelter the ignorant, the racists, who only stoke anger and hatred to those that are different than us.”
“Our constituents voted us in based on our beliefs, but we cannot use our faith as a sword and a shield while ignoring the fact we are all children of God, that we are all Americans.”
Kinzinger also called out his Democratic colleagues for propping up Make America Great Again Republicans in primaries — pumping millions of dollars into these efforts — in order to have extremist rivals to run against in the November midterms.
“To my Democratic colleagues, you too must bear the burden of our failures. Many of you have asked me ‘Where are all the good Republicans?’ Over the past two years, Democratic leadership had the opportunity to stand above the fray. Instead, they poured millions of dollars into the campaigns of MAGA Republicans, the same candidates President Biden called a national security threat, to ensure these good Republicans do not make it out of their respective primaries.
“This is no longer politics as usual; this is not a game. If you keep stoking the fire, you can’t point the fingers when our great experiment goes up in flames.”
Both parties have “weaponized fear,” with too few Republicans or Democrats having the “spines to stand up and put country over party,” Kinzinger said.
Kinzinger said he can rest at night knowing he was “standing up for the truth.”
“I know that standing up for truth would cost me my job, friendships, and even my personal security. I would, without hesitation, do it all over again.”
Watch Kinzinger’s speech below:
WATCH: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the Jan. 6 Cmte., delivers final speech on House floor.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) December 16, 2022
Rep. Adam Kinzinger on standing up for1/6 truth during his final House floor speech, "I know that standing up for truth would cost me my job, friendships, and even my personal security. I would, without hesitation, do it all over again." pic.twitter.com/Vs4vK8h6wX
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) December 15, 2022