Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) appeared to claim in a Wednesday interview that he had risked — and ultimately gave up — his political career because he stood up and fought against former President Donald Trump.
Kinzinger, who announced over the summer that he would not seek re-election in last Tuesday’s midterms, invoked his time in the military while discussing the issue with former Republican MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace — and argued that if he was going to cast votes that could send soldiers to die, he had to be willing to risk his own career.
Rep. Kinzinger: “If I’m going to ask people to be willing to die for this country…I have to be willing to give up my career for the same cause…My oath is not to my district, it’s to the Constitution.” https://t.co/gqL26mh530 pic.twitter.com/tM6p3BVnYj
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 17, 2022
Wallace, who worked in the White House under former President George W. Bush, noted that Trump had crossed her “red line” long before he became president in 2016 — and she asked Kinzinger why he believed so many Republicans were still saying he hadn’t yet crossed theirs.
“Tribalism,” Kinzinger said, was the simple answer. “You know, the second — if one of them says, ‘Look, I’ve had enough of Donald Trump,’ you get kicked out of your tribe. And then I gotta tell you, the other tribe, to the extent it exists, the anti-Trumpers, the Democrats are not going to accept you because, ah, you’re coming on too late or maybe you still have this one issue I disagree with.”
Kinzinger went on to suggest that some simply supported Trump in order to get re-elected — or out of cowardice — after which he referenced his transition from the military to Congress. Noting that he returned from Iraq in 2009 and got elected in 2010, he said, “I remember thinking, if I’m going to ask people to be willing to die for this country — and obviously I’m going to have to take votes on that and I have — I have to be willing to give up my career for the same cause.”
“My oath is not to my district, it’s to the Constitution,” Kinzinger concluded.
But the Illinois congressman did not give up his career in order to defend the Constitution — he was effectively forced out of Congress when Illinois Democrats gerrymandered his district out of existence. Illinois, a reliably blue state, skewed the map even further when they redrew the districts in such a way that Republicans — who held five of the state’s 17 seats — could only pull off wins in three in 2022.
“Illinois is the worst gerrymander in the country drawn by Democrats,” FiveThirtyEight senior elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich wrote.
Kinzinger announced that he would not seek reelection just 12 hours after the new map was approved.