The Darkness

Published: February 19, 2021

By Jim Lichtman
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“It is written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.” – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

The poison that is Donald Trump has so deeply infected followers that they forcefully speak out against any unfaithful Republican who dares speak against him much less hold him accountable for the attack on the Capitol.

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Here’s what David Ball, a Washington County Republican, said after learning that Pennsylvania’s Sen. Patrick Toomey voted to convict Trump for inciting insurrection.

“We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever he said he was doing. We sent him there to represent us.”

When Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney dared to vote for impeachment, she was quickly censured by GOP officials back home who continue to insist that there was widespread voter fraud.

Wyoming voters said that Cheney had “failed to faithfully represent” them.

Senator Richard Burr faced a similar fate after he voted to convict Trump.

“Tonight, the North Carolina Republican Party Central Committee voted unanimously to censure Senator Richard Burr…”

In response, Burr said, “My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation.”

This is the darkness that Trump’s devoted followers inhabit, the nightmare of their choice.

No one, however, has received as much voter anger and official backlash back home as six-term Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger. Surprisingly, much of that anger comes from Kinzinger’s own family, “saying he was in cahoots with ‘the devil’s army,’ ” The New York Times reported (Feb. 15).

“Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God!” they wrote. “You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!”

But “Karen Otto, Mr. Kinzinger’s cousin, didn’t stop there. She also sent copies of her letter to Republicans across the state, including members of the state’s congressional delegation.

“ ‘I wanted Adam to be shunned,’ Otto said in an interview.”

And Kinzinger didn’t stop with his vote of impeachment. He “began a new political action committee with a six-minute video declaring the need to re-format the Republican Party into something resembling an idealized version of George W. Bush’s party — with an emphasis on lower taxes, hawkish defense, and social conservatism — without the grievances and conspiracy theories that Mr. Trump and his allies have made central to the party’s identity.”

“We just fear,” Kinzinger said. “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.”

“His anti-Trump stance,” The Times said, “has angered Republican constituents in his district, some of whom liken him to a Democrat, and frustrated Republican officials in Illinois who say he cares more about his own national exposure than his relationship with them.

“ ‘There doesn’t seem to be a camera or a microphone he won’t run to,’ said Larry Smith, the chairman of the La Salle County G.O.P., which censured Mr. Kinzinger last month. ‘He used to talk to us back in the good old days.’ ”

While the “good old days,” haven’t made an appearance in the last 4 years, Kinzinger’s resolve to reform the Republican party and help his constituents remains his central focus.

“Central and northern Illinois deserve an explanation and deserve my full attention, and they’ll get it,” he said. “But to the extent I can, I will also focus on the national message because I can turn every heart in central and northern Illinois, and it wouldn’t make a dent on the whole party. And that’s what I think the huge battle is.”

However, there is one group that Kinzinger is not spending his full attention on.

“The letter-writers in his family,” he said, “suffer from ‘brainwashing’ from conservative churches that have led them astray.

“ ‘I hold nothing against them,’ he said, ‘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.’ ”

Trump has murdered much of the trust in American democracy and its leadership. It’s demonstrated in his lack of respect, honesty, and decency, which will be his greatest legacy.

As for Adam Kinzinger, “The party’s sick right now. It’s one thing if the party was accepting of different views, but it’s become this massive litmus test on everything. So, it’s a possibility [to change party affiliation] down the road, but it’s certainly not my intention, and I’m going to fight like hell to save it first.”


  1. Good post. Interesting, when I vote, I DO expect the elected official to “vote their conscience.”

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