GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger Says Republicans Get Elected on 'Steady Diet of Fear'

Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger on Friday said he is willing to "give his career" away by pushing back against the "brainwashing" of the GOP led by former President Donald Trump.

Kinzinger, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, told HBO host Bill Maher he ultimately wants a Republican Party that "isn't crazy" and can be a "productive member of a government that basically has two parties." Although Maher quipped that hasn't happened in decades, Kinzinger said his party has to stop getting elected "on a steady diet of fear." Kinzinger said GOP candidates across the U.S. have stepped up threats of "socialism" and absurd claims of impending liberal attacks in order to fundraise and rise above Republican primary rivals. He described the U.S. Capitol rioters on January 6 as a force of "pure evil" and an ominous sign of the GOP's future.

"We have learned, and I can only speak as a Republican looking at the Republicans, we've learned you can get elected on a steady diet of fear," Kinzinger said on Real Time With Bill Maher Friday night. "So every fundraising email is 'send me 5 bucks to ensure Nancy Pelosi doesn't destroy your family.' And everything is this diet of fear. And eventually it's no wonder there is real damage to democracy."

"It's just fear...when you think that's your terminal job or you're going to go higher, you live in fear of anything to do," Kinzinger said, highlighting many lawmakers' desperate efforts to remain in office at all costs.

Kinzinger said "tribal" politics across the country has allowed people to get elected who have an "inability to make independent decisions now," which helps explain why furious Trump supporters lashed out at him for voting to impeach the former president. He said friends and family members sent a "second certified letter reiterating" their belief he has embraced the devil and turned away from Trump, who they view as the "second coming of [Jesus Christ]."

"The level of brainwashing among some people...they truly believe they are fighting against the forces of evil just because the person they thought was the second coming [of Jesus Christ] happened to lose," Kinzinger told Maher.

Kinzinger said the satanic accusations from fanatical Trump supporters opened his eyes to the fact Trump was "crazing these people to believe they were somehow doing a service for this country." He noted that his mindset as a U.S. military veteran has allowed him to be "willing to give his career" to stand up to Trump's hijacking of the party.

Kinzinger recently penned an op-ed in The Washington Post that urged Republican senators to convict Trump in order to reinsert accountability.

"This isn't a waste of time. It's a matter of accountability. If the GOP doesn't take a stand, the chaos of the past few months, and the past four years, could quickly return. The future of our party and our country depends on confronting what happened — so it doesn't happen again," Kinzinger wrote, urging at least 17 Republicans to join Democrats in considering conviction of Trump.

Trump won Kinzinger's 16th Congressional District in the western suburbs of Chicago with 57 percent of the vote in the November 2020 election. Kinzinger won his general election, meaning his current term ends in January 2023. He first took office in 2013.

Kinzinger touted his "Country First" political action committee, which he has branded as an effort to return the Republican Party to conservative principles.

Newsweek reached out to Kinzinger's office for additional remarks Saturday morning.

adam kinzinger bill maher
Illinois Republicans congressman Adam Kinzinger on Friday evening said he is willing to "give his career" away by pushing back against the "brainwashing" of the GOP led by former President Donald Trump. Screenshot: YouTube | Real Time with Bill Maher