He says he's a moderate Republican, and the party is on a 'slide to authoritarianism'
Adam Kinzinger describes himself as a Republican moderate; something he says is a dying breed in American politics.
Who is he? A former Illinois congressman, Kinzinger served from 2011 until finishing his term at the beginning of this year.
What's the big deal? Kinzinger expands on these feelings of dissent in his new book Renegade — a reflection on his work, life and political career.
What's he saying? Kinzinger spoke with All Things Considered host Scott Detrow about his career, the state of his party and what the future might hold.
On the type of people seeking office these days:
People are getting elected as a way to become famous. This is the new Hollywood, so to speak. But the problem isn't that they're not there to govern. The problem is the ones that are there to govern are not fighting back.
And a lot of the time they just put their head in the sand and pretend like we can get this fixed by just allowing the far right to have their way on a number of things. And so while most may be there to govern, that doesn't mean that they're going to actually do what they need to do to get to a situation where they can fight back and govern.
Want more on the House speaker? Listen to Consider This explore the career of Mike Johnson.
On former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's ousting:
I think that writing was on the wall. I don't know if I expected it to happen this quickly, or maybe even went longer than I expected.
But when you cut a deal with what I think [former speaker John] Boehner aptly called the "terrorist caucus" and you start cutting deals that make it where they hold you hostage, and then you come up against real deadlines like a debt limit, like government shutdowns, I think it was inevitable.
So I guess I was surprised that the vote for McCarthy went into like a million rounds. But yeah, I was not surprised he was ousted. And frankly, I think it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
On the difficulty of the job and the concept of "selling your soul:"
Look, I don't think it's worth it if you're going to sell your soul, because not only is selling your soul miserable, but the process of selling your soul in this is miserable.
And I don't know why you do it, except that there is an identity. Being a member of Congress is a powerful feeling. You're the center of attention anywhere you walk into except the White House.
And I think that's addictive to people. But I will say to anybody out there considering running, public service is still very honorable. And we need good people in public service to change this view.
But what we need are people that understand that your job isn't just to go stick your finger in the wind and figure out which way it's blowing. Your job is to actually go defend the Constitution of the United States, which is why we take an oath to it. And I think if we get more people like that in politics, I think the job would be worth it. And frankly, the job would be honorable again.
On whether he still considers himself a Republican:
I do, only because I'm not willing to give up and only because I haven't changed. I will say I will call myself a Republican that feels politically homeless at the moment and don't know where I belong.
But I also know that if everything kind of tracks the way it is in 2024, I won't be voting Republican because, again, I think it's a simple question of democracy or no democracy. And the Republican Party represents right now a real slide to authoritarianism ... If it was Joe Biden and Donald Trump, I don't think there's any question I would vote for Joe Biden.
So, what now?
This interview was conducted for radio by Scott Detrow, edited by Courtney Dorning, and produced by Tyler Bartlam. contributed to this story
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