WSJ Op-Ed: A Political Homeless Shelter
BY CONGRESSMAN ADAM KINZINGER
America is at a crossroads. Politically speaking, so am I.
The Republican Party I joined decades ago is unrecognizable today. It has favored conspiracy theories over truth, anger over hope, and division over problem solving. As I serve my final months in Congress, I find I am left carrying the torch for the values and principles of a party that’s been overtaken by partisan politicos looking for the limelight and clinging to their sense of power instead of upholding their oaths of office. I’m holding out hope for what I know the Republican Party has been and can be, but every day that passes, I’m feeling more politically homeless. And I’m not alone.
Shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, I made a video calling out my party for having lost its way. Then I started the Country First organization for reasonable people of goodwill who want to bring truth and accountability back to government. In one year, it has grown to nearly 150,000 members, including 6,000 volunteers, with chapters in all 50 states.
Americans across the political spectrum are tired of the vitriol and feel disenfranchised by both parties, yet the outrage machine continues to churn out negativity. Bad actors are getting rich by peddling disinformation and fear, and the American people are paying the price. From wild conspiracy theories to carefully crafted misinformation, the public is more susceptible than ever to falling for these untruths.
With everything going on in Ukraine, we have to be clear-eyed about the gravity of this geopolitical moment, one of the most pivotal of our lifetimes. Some are using their platforms to provoke the latest outrage on Disney instead. It makes me sick to see people stoking this cultural anger and division for the sole purpose of ratings and money. Saying it’s a disservice to the people who trust them would be a severe understatement. It’s dereliction of duty.
We are better than this, and to turn things around, we must demand better—from our leaders, our media outlets, and ourselves. The Republican Party is led by a former president who admitted asking the vice president to overturn the 2020 election for him, and who seems to believe the delusion that he can be reinstated. In Congress, we have members who stand with white nationalists and value money over principles. In the right-wing media, we have commentators who echo Vladimir Putin’s propaganda and blatantly lie to their viewers and readers.
These aren’t the leaders we need, but the leaders we need are too afraid to stand up and speak out—for the most part. They worry that voters won’t have their backs. So we the people need to prove that we do. Washington isn’t going to fix itself.
Through Country First, I’m organizing a nationwide effort called Primary First, focused on voter education and engagement. I want to encourage Americans to show up for primary elections and vote for candidates who will be servant-leaders to their constituents.
It shouldn’t be a novel idea to tell the truth, to stand up for our democracy, and to serve with integrity. But it is. Now more than ever, we need to turn things around and put in the work to break free from toxic tribalism and extreme partisanship. My time in Congress may be coming to an end, but my fight for this country continues—politically homeless or otherwise.
The original article can be found on The Wall Street Journal's website here.