I know what you're thinking.
"With a headline and featured image like that, this guy must be an ignorant TRUMP-et! A delusional Q-Anon conspiracy theorist!"
That thought was then probably followed by your favorite expletive attached to whatever epithet you normally use to cruise hashtags on social media under a fake name, anonymous photo, and some kind of raised fist/communist rose paired with any variation of #ReSiStAnCe(!).
I get it. We live in angry times, and some have the right to tweet.
In case you cared to read beyond the first advertisement, no, I am not a delusional follower of Q-Anon, trusting the plan two weeks at a time. No, I'm not willing to volunteer for a hot Civil War to install Donald Trump as God Emperor of the new Holy American Empire. No, I don't believe the Jews are using space lasers to destroy our food supply or whatever other nonsense is trending on Twitter that makes lazy fodder for late night comedy show writers and social media memes but does its real intended job of drowning out genuine critique of American neo-liberalism.
That said, I am a sucker for watching people throw away their potential and everything they've worked for most of their lives. I can't help it. It's why reality television is so popular. I've done it myself. You're reading my words on this little website right now rather than buying all your daily goods from my "Everything Store" while I moonlight in asteroid mining speculation and have estates in every country on every continent.
And that throwing away of potential appears to be what Adam Kinzinger or whoever is advising Adam Kinzinger, is trying to do with his elected career.
Sunday night, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois' 16th District launched a new "movement" called Country 1st.
Country 1st is not to be confused with America First, of course. The fine people over at Country 1st have standards and wouldn't dare stand for that rabble in their club. Ew.
Using a mid-day talk show impotence commercial template and with all the drama and emotion of a debut YouTube ad for a tech startup app that connects climate change conscious free-range avocados with like-minded fruits and nuts, Kinzinger delivered a 6-minute soliloquy directed toward his Republican Party outlining his new movement as a home for "principled Americans who are tired of the poisonous extremism that has overtaken our beloved nation's politics."
You can view the speech below:
"Someone needs to tell the truth," Kinzinger opens. "Someone needs to say what history needs to hear. So here I am. The Republican Party has lost its way..."
The irony of a man telling those around him that they are not receiving the whole truth and that they're following the whims of a demagogue(s) turning around and declaring he is the one who will tell them the truth, nay that he will tell history itself the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and that we should all join in and follow him is not lost on anyone except, it seems, Kinzinger and his advisors. The oafishness of a man backstabbing his colleagues in favor of an obvious and insanely partisan political boondoggle turning around to tell them that it is he they should trust to lead them back to relevance in the great debate of history and time is not lost on anyone except, it seems, Kinzinger and his advisors. The obtuseness required for a man to be so dismissive of supporters begging for literally anyone to put up even a half-hearted fight for them to the point where they'll draft someone like Donald Trump to do so, turning around and declaring it is him who'll fight for the establishment and the status quo and decency and decorum and choosing to state he'll do so no more than five metaphorical minutes after he was called a fascist neo-nazi white supremacist who deserves to be confronted, spat on, purged from polite society, and his kids sent to reeducation camps simply because he is a straight, white man with an (R) next to his name is not lost on anyone except, it seems, Kinzinger and his advisors.
But we all know what's happening here.
Adam's not stupid.
Illinois is about to go through redistricting again, and Kinzinger's seat in the 16th District is a prime target. He's seen it before, and he knows what's coming. They're going to stack the game against him, and the math doesn't add up. He likely and rightly sees his only way forward in Illinois is to make a play for a statewide office, and he felt he had to make a big move.
He has an election to win.
Of course, big moves are big risks that can quickly become big rewards or big mistakes and, with his latest, Kinzinger may have just thrown away his elected career in Illinois.
I have to assume the thought crossed his mind. One would hope, at least, his advisors had this conversation with him. If they did not, he desperately needs new advisors.
Because Adam Kinzinger did exactly what his opponents have been manipulating the narrative and hoping someone would do. After all the hysteria of the last five years, nothing more than calculated political machinations done in a concerted effort to convince establishment Republican types to break, Adam Kinzinger just gave them all they asked for and even more than they imagined they could get.
For five years, short of lining them up against a wall in front of a firing squad, his opponents have been doing all they could to convince him and the others to flip on Trump. It's all they wanted. All the bluster and braying before the cameras and all the hushed whispers behind, were nothing more than political gamesmanship to drive the wedge between the pre-frontal cortex and the rest of the establishment brain.
"Just do it...Come on, Adam. Do it. You can't win. Just give up. Do it..."
They knew the more they could nudge Republican careerists, particularly those desperate to be in it for the long haul, those who tasted just enough power and had just enough name recognition that maybe they could make a run for something bigger, the greater the rift within the Republican Party they would cause.
I give him a little credit for lasting as long as he did, but Adam Kinzinger finally took the bait. Whether it comes on the first cast or you have to wait all day for the nibble doesn't matter; the fish takes the hook, line, and sinker all the same.
Here's where I'm going to shock you.
I don't care that Kinzinger voted to impeach Trump. I don't think any singular person in any political position is too big for criticism nor punishment. I don't mind that Adam Kinzinger does not like Donald Trump, and I don't care that he thinks "Trumpism" and whatever that entails is not the way forward for the Republican Party. I, myself, have plenty of criticisms of Donald Trump's tactics and his often buffoonish impulses that served both him and the Republican Party zero favors, and I don't think the way Trump did/does things is the way forward for the Republican Party.
But Adam Kinzinger decided to take it to the next level. He took it a step further. Adam Kinzinger decided to not only throw Trump under the bus but he decided to push his Republican Party and all its voters under the bus with him. And it's Adam Kinzinger who expects them to be okay with that because Adam is a "principled" Republican reaching out and offering them his helping hand to stand back up behind him.
That, I mind.
We can debate and will presumably be forced to listen to the debate on what took place at the Capitol on January 6th for a long, long time. I do not believe the events on January 6th in the Capitol resembled anything close to actual insurrection anymore than the last year's summer of violence in cities across America resembled anything close to mostly peaceful protests. To me, just as the larger whole of people in the streets exercising their rights to protest last summer were not responsible for the smaller group who ultimately behaved like morons, imbeciles, troglodytes, and idiots in reflection of the poor leadership in the government that surrounds them, I believe the same to be true of the events at the Capitol. As Adam is a military man, I question if he believes what he's called those events on January 6th or if it's merely an equity line of credit on his political capital. He is a politician, after all. Still, I want to be clear, he's entitled to his opinion and feelings he harbors toward those events and what happened, and he's entitled to express those feelings how he so chooses. There is no problem there, and I don't begrudge his opinion on that matter.
But I mind when the politician turns his attention against the little guy who has nothing to do with it. When the politician turns to that larger whole to blame all the little guys in an impotent attempt to exonerate any blame from himself. And just as I harshly criticize politicians like J.B. Pritzker and Lori Lightfoot or Donald Trump or whomever else, it is you, Adam Kinzinger, you are the elected official. It is you who are the politician. It is you who declared yourself best fit to stand up and stand in the ring for the little guy and the specific policies and legislation he would like to see enforced. Nothing more.
You want to change the rhetoric and the tactics and the approach? Go right ahead, bud. You're the guy who wanted the job. Do it. You're the guy who was given the open microphone on the stage by your voters. Do it. Come on, Adam, do it. You are the guy gifted the political action committees and lobbyists paying your every expense to push your face onto whatever television channel and radio station you desire, to sling your words and slogans and ideas into every publication you wish. Do it, Adam. Do it.
But don't lecture me.
Don't lecture the little guy in the middle of America who goes to work every day doing a job he probably didn't dream of doing when he was a kid, but he does it to put food on his family table. Don't lecture the little guy as if he's some rube who can't understand or comprehend the difference between the actions of a small group of people who got out of control and then ask him help you understand the impact of new administration and the changes in regulatory barriers in the international import/export of his corn or soybean product and how the technological challenges of the modern farm industry has on his bottom line. Don't lecture the little guy who has to watch himself and the things he believes in get berated in every form of media on every platform from every direction all day every day through people cast to look, act, and think as the rube they think he is. Don't lecture the little guy who all he does in response to the constant barrage against his psyche, the only thing proper for him to do in response, is go into a little booth at his local VFW to vote for you.
If the little guy in the middle of the country needed another lecture, they could just turn on the news. If the little guy in the middle of the country needed another lecture, they could just open any paper or magazine or almost any website. If the little guy in the middle of the country needed another lecture, they could turn on Netflix or Disney or Amazon or YouTube or their Podcast apps and get all the lectures their little heart desires. All day, every day.
If you want to give a lecture, Adam, you can step to the damned lectern in the United States House of Representatives and demand your colleagues tone down the rhetoric whenever you damn well please. And you can go on any show you want and tell them to tone down their rhetoric whenever you damn well please. And anytime you and your wannabe patricii want to not only preach unity but actually abide by that unity, you and your friends can do it whenever you damn well please.
Go on then. We're waiting.
But don't push post onto our Facebook feeds and tell us we're the problem.
Ugh. I watched the video again. It sends a shiver up the spine like it's icky or a scratch on a chalkboard.
You know the spine? It's that body part that Adam Kinzinger just made a 6-minute video advertising he doesn't have.
I guess I'm just a little disappointed in Adam Kinzinger. He seems like a nice guy. I suppose I hoped he'd have a dash more gumption.
All Illinois Republicans are nice guys, if you know what I mean, and Adam Kinzinger proved himself to be another Illinois Republican politician.
Here, I just wrote a play:
"Nice guy, that Adam Kinzinger."
"Oh sure, real nice guy."
"Too bad, though."
"Yep, too bad."
That play is a harsh critique utilizing the original Midwestern small talk dialect saying Adam Kinzinger is just another nice guy in a cheap suit out for his own future capitulating to the demands of the machine rather than standing for the principles to which he claims he subscribes. Two thumbs up!
This is nothing lifelong Illinoisans haven't seen before. All Illinois Republicans with political ambitions in the state let alone ambition beyond the state eventually get convinced they have no way of winning without the Great Acquiescence. All Illinois Republicans eventually get convinced they need to pander. It's a time-honored tradition.
"Look," they're told, "you can't even poll in Chicago without approaching with puppy dog eyes, begging for a treat."
It's okay. It's how things work here. That's Politics, baby.
Kinzinger is far from the first and certainly won't be the last. He's just the latest fish to take the bait and get held up for the camera before being tossed back into the Illinois River. Another big fish story told over a round of drinks in some mahogany walled speakeasy somewhere deep in the District of Columbia.
I'm not done but I'm close.
The part that separates it from a humble mistake and sends it into utter foolishness isn't that Kinzinger's wrong with his fundamental argument it's that he expected his flaccid sermon to be received as if it were delivered on a mount, yet it wasn't even delivered to the right target. The political equivalent of ordering a drone strike on a terror cell outside of Kandahar and your phone autocorrecting to Kankakee.
Sure, now he has more guest spots on the CNN's and the MSNBC's and ABC's The View. You know, the places he can get to the serious voters he needs, housewives who think he's cute. Oh look, the Washington Post is calling. Looks like Newsweek and The Atlantic are on hold. Are you free for Colbert in the next couple weeks, Adam? Can you spare a moment for the li'l ol' Sun-Times and Chicago Reader editorial boards, Adam? They're eager and anxious to publish your latest admonition of the American Republican, too, you know?
Sure, his social media timelines are now filled with effete praise from all sorts of his opponents for "standing up for what's right," and, "thanks for being on the right side of history, Adam," and, "Aw shucks I would vote for you if I was a Republican!"
Of course, those are peppered with the "ex-Republicans" all too gleeful to display how courageous and holy they most definitely are with "Gee golly, I left the Republican Party ages ago but maybe I'll consider voting for you next time!"
They won't. They don't.
Further down the road, the second he goes up against a Durbin or a Duckworth or a Pritzker they'll smear and vilify him and everything he believes in again. It's the lie they always use in this state and Adam Kinzinger fell for it after too many nights in the District of Columbia and not enough days in the 16th. Another notch in the bedpost.
It's okay, Adam. Best of luck.