Politicians that people can look up to are pretty few and far between these days. My go to is always John McCain, the former U.S. Senator from Arizona.
McCain was a great American and a good man. He always put his country before his party, which is the way things should be.
Well, recently another politician did the same thing, and he has gotten a mixture of praise and grief for it. I am talking about U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who represents our area.
When insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Kinzinger was there. He locked himself in his office and said he felt, “a real dark and evil sense coming over the place.”
Anyone watching the horrific events on TV probably felt the same.
He also said he felt a “profound sadness” that day as events unfolded. That is also something most of us felt. Shock, sadness, horror and concern for this great nation.
But Kinzinger is an elected official and he had the platform to speak out against these events, and he did. On social media that day, he referred to the event as a “coup.” He also supported the impeachment of President Donald Trump for inciting the unrest.
I understand that some Republicans are not happy with Kinzinger because of this. I know that they think elected officials should stick with their party and their leaders no matter what. Kinzinger put his own professional future in jeopardy by being vocal in his opposition not only of the events of Jan. 6, but also the actions of President Trump.
But here is the thing that people seem to forget, no matter where they fall politically. Elected officials like Kinzinger swear an oath to protect the Constitution, not a political party. As a veteran myself – like Kinzinger of the U.S. Air Force – I understand that our great nation is what he must protect, not politicians.
But we live in an age of raging partisanship, where politicians have to pass some litmus test to show how “pure” they are for the loudest voices in their party.
In my mind, Kinzinger passed the test that mattered when it came to the events of Jan. 6 and the aftermath. He chose country over party. He chose to do what he felt was the right thing. He did not apologize for it, and he did not ask for forgiveness. He did what he felt was his Constitutional duty.
I also believe this is a Constitutional question, not a political one. Again, Kinzinger’s oath is to the nation and its Constitution, not any single president or party. And he let that be his guiding principle.
Now people can disagree with him, clearly. And they can also vote against him when the next election rolls around.
But I think if you look at his actions with political parties pushed to the side, he did exactly what he is charged with doing. Isn’t that what we hope all of our elected officials will do?
Time will tell if this will help or hurt his political career. But doing the right thing, even when it means going against your party or its leadership, never hurt McCain. In fact, even though he was a staunch conservative, it never hurt him in an election in his home state as he won votes across the political spectrum.
The highest praise I can give any elected official is that his or her actions were McCain-like. Kinzinger has earned that praise.