Adam Kinzinger has faced threats and alienation as a result of his efforts to save the GOP from Trump
Adam Kinzinger has faced threats and alienation as a result of his efforts to save the GOP from Trump
Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

While few would disagree that the United States is now a more overtly divided place than it was when Donald Trump first entered the White House, this new condition was notably highlighted this week by the plight of one Republican congressman who dared to speak out against the 45th president.

Despite conspiracy and mistruths having underscored the former Apprentice star’s political career from the early days of his 2016 campaign – with the racist “birther” movement just one example of this – the now-former president appears to have entirely divorced from reality following his refusal to accept the 2020 election’s legitimacy, bringing swathes of the GOP and millions of his supporters along for the ride.

With the pernicious consequences of this became horrifyingly clear on 6 January, some Republicans are now desperate to purge the party of the man who clawed their party back into power for four years.

But, as arguably displayed by the fact that all but seven GOP senators voted to acquit Trump last week, doing so will take considerable bravery, conviction and sacrifice.

House Republican Adam Kinzinger has already found this out the hard way.

Last month, Kinzinger – a former Tea Party politician who represents the 16th district of Illinois – sought to make a stand for the future of his party, launching a new political action committee (PAC) called Country First , urging his fellow Republicans to “muster the courage to remember who we are” and “turn back from the edge of darkness”.

Not only was he one of 10 House Republicans to impeach Trump, Kinzinger also recently voted to punish Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Greene over her violent and conspiracy-laden social media output, by stripping her of her congressional committee duties.

For his convictions, Kinzinger has reported facing death threats and has been formally rebuked by his party.

He has also even been disavowed by some of his relatives.

In a letter signed by his cousins Greg and Karen Otto, published by The New York Timeson Monday, Kinzinger was accused of joining “the Devil’s army” of the Democrats and “fake news media”.

“Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God,” the letter began, continuing: “President Trump is not perfect, but neither are you or any of us for that matter! It is not for me to judge or be judged! But he [Mr Trump] is a Christian!”

It added: “We thought you were ‘smart’ enough to see how the left is brainwashing many ‘so called good people’ including yourself and many other GOP members ... You have even fallen for their socialism ideals! So, so sad!”

“It is now most embarrassing to us that we are related to you,” they also wrote. “You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name.”

While the letter was only made public this week, the congressman told Business Insider in January: “My dad’s cousins sent me a petition — a certified letter — saying they disowned me because I’m in ‘the devil’s army’ now. It’s been crazy, when you have friends — that you thought were good friends that would love you no matter what — that don’t.”

Speaking to The Times, Kinzinger said the handwritten note came from 11 members of his family, and that he believed they had been “brainwashed” at pro-Trump churches, adding: “I hold nothing against them, but I have zero desire or feel the need to reach out and repair that.

“That is 100 percent on them to reach out and repair, and quite honestly, I don’t care if they do or not.”

But Kinzinger – who allegedly received a “vulgar” threat passed on indirectly from Trump himself as far back as 2016 – showed no indication that this latest provocation would see him change course.

Addressing what he sees as the problems within the GOP, he said: “We just fear. Fear the Democrats. Fear the future. Fear everything. And it works for an election cycle or two. The problem is it does real damage to this democracy.”

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