tv Rep. Adam Kinzinger on Political Divisions CSPAN April 9, 2022 1:05pm-2:05pm EDT
phone calls, text messages, comments, and tweets. c-span is your unfiltered view of government funded by these television companies and more including buckeye broadband. buckeye broadband supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> illinois congressman adam kinzinger discusses ability, compromise, and civic engagement in an event at georgetown university. he is one of two republicans on the january 6 committee.
bipartisan coalition. it is a student led organization dedicated to bridging the political divide in this country and on georgetown university's campus. we conduct roundtables, debates, and social events in order to keep college r >> as an illinois republican i have seen my local party leaders have a spectrum of reactions to today's speakers. tonight we are joined perspectivs
of public life, we explore ways we can move past polarization that explore our politics on public health and so many other aspects of society. join us as we welcome our first speaker to launch the series, representative adam kinzinger. this event today is cosponsored by the georgetown university college republicans and georgetown university bipartisan coalition. please join the conversation on social media using the official event hash tag, #howtoheal.
i would like to welcome to the stage mona and representative adam kinzinger. [applause] representative ken singer: -- >> thank you for joining us tonight. congressman, welcome back. we were just reminiscing back stage that the last time you were here was for a panel discussion we did back in the day on the politics of syria back when people were actually still talking about syria, so thank you. you were great then and we are excited to have you here tonight. for our inaugural event in our new "how to heal" series. here's the thing -- the last couple of years have sucked.
they have totally sucked. between a global pandemic and summer of 2020 and all the racial upheaval that we saw and then a 2020 presidential election that we are still arguing over and that led to an insurrection at the united states capital -- capitol. but when we returned to campus last fall in september, there seemed to be a new energy. there was also -- it was almost as if there was a mental turning of the corner for all of us that maybe we can start to move forward. maybe this is a chance for us to heal socially, culturally, politically. so that is what this series is going to focus on, and we are so thrilled to have you here to help begin to set the table for this conversation. i'm going to -- we are going to talk amongst ourselves for a
little bit. representative ken singer: pretend you're not even there. mr. elleithee: exactly. in fact, we are going to talk about you. we have always had sharp elbows in our politics, right? and sometimes worse. we have had a war with ourselves over if we should keep people in bondage. the 1960's were an incredibly tumultuous decade with riots and protests and political assassinations and the national guard shooting college kids on college campuses. is it worth now? does it feel worse now? help us diagnose the problem. how bad is it? representative kinzinger: it
feels worse for all of us because we are actually living it. it is interesting if you look back to the 1960's and recognize -- i forget the number, but the number of political assassinations or attempted political assassinations. it is insane. you can see when you see those numbers how people thought we may be at a point of society falling apart and somehow within that, it just kind of magically seemed to heal almost. i'm sure there's a number of stories and things that say why did we heal, but i'm sure there's a lesson throughout that. society and life is always a bit of a pendulum. there's always moments you look and say things are really bad, but then people come along and heal -- or maybe it is the natural kind of social tendency to heal, and that is my hope, by the way. from the depth of this terrible moment we are in, i think we have to be honest about it.
you opened up and said it sucks -- yeah, it does suck. it is like we are living a new chapter of revelation every day. i think we have to recognize that and say -- what is the answer? is the answer for us going to be, you know, we are going to sit back and wait for somebody to magically come along and fix it, or we are going to be part of that solution? i'm sure you will get into these questions, but i want to have a little teaser here and say i don't know if it is worse than it was in the 1960's or not, but that is our choice. that is our determination. do we want to make this time be like the end of the story of america or the story of american democracy, or do we want this to be one of those things that say, you know, it was dark before the light came? that is a choice we all get to make. that's the awesome thing about self-governance. that is what you are seeing in ukraine right now,
their ability to say we want to be who we want to be for us. we are not at a point where we have to give our point -- lives for that cause. the price is easy even if it does not feel that way. it is going to be your generation that will make that difference. there are too many old people in politics that are still fighting the same battles they have always fought. there are doing the same stuff they were in the 60's. the same solutions to the same problems. you guys will be the ones that will have to come along and fix problems and change how we deal with each other and make the determination that this is not going to be worse the 1960 and it is going to be the beginning of an american comeback in renewal. another quick thing on that. if you look back -- i do not know the details as well because i am stealing this from someone. if you guys member hearing about
pineapple express. back in -- not the movie. this is the one where they rescued everyone in afghanistan. a different pineapple express. back when afghanistan was falling apart in august were a bunch of former special operators that hollow these -- had all of these operations in afghanistan and lead to people being rescued not by the u.s. government but by these organic movements. a guy named scott mann has an organization called rooftop. he keeps making the point. i did this podcast a week ago. that it was in the worst times, prior to world war ii, some real social problems in this country when he saw the rise of future farmers of america. a little organization called alcoholics anonymous were two people got together and determined they should come up with a list of principles and steps to sober up. that is where you saw the
massive social movement from the ground up. that is what changed society. that is the moment where we are at now. mr. elleithee: there are a couple of different threads i want to pull on their. you have talked about, in the past, toxic tribalism and how dangerous that is to to democracy. i agree with you. i believe these filter bubbles that we live in and through a series of conscious and subconscious decisions we make every day, are isolating ourselves from one another. one of the things we talk about is the need to pop those, every now and then, to see one another, and hear one another. here's the thing that scares me, i wonder if people want to hear and listen and understand one another, right? you guys know i am a democrat. my side gig is i am a democrat here at fox news.
i get so many trolls that come after me. rep. kinzinger: i did not know you were democrat. i am out of here. mr. elleithee: there it is. [laughter] they come at me and say, i do not know why fox employs you you should go to cnn you belong. you are not welcome here. you do not belong here. you are invading our safe space. talk about that. do people really want to get past that? rep. kinzinger: that's a great question. there is real comfort in whatever your social circle is. so, if you think about when i was a kid, your friend group was who lived in your neighborhood. that was my friends that i played with. there was also my parents friends. they are friends outside of that but, you are out mowing your lawn and you may have a beer with the neighbors and that is your social circle. that does not happen anymore. it was accelerated due to covid,
but now people find their social circles on the internet. so let us say you're pro-second amendment, you decide g, i going to get my social circuit amendment -- social -- second amendment group together. that becomes your social circle on facebook. you go home, you are on facebook or whatever, and you are typing, you are angry, you are all agreeing with each other. you feel like you belong to something. we all want to belong. i actually think people fear, this gets into a whole thing of wire politicians scared to take tough votes, i think people fear being kicked out of their social circle and isolated more than they fear death. that is part of the driving and the whole separate issue, when it comes to things like, you on facebook, on a second amendment group, let us say you're pro-second amendment, and you say i think the age to purchase an ar should be raised from 18
to 21 because it is 20 want to buy pistol. let's say you say that on the social group. they are going to call you a rhino. they are going to -- yeah, that is right. that is a nice name for me. [laughter] you will be kicked out of that circle. you be kicked out of the group. you do not belong here. so, i think people have gotten to the point were -- where thinking through things, how to understand the problem through other people's eyes, how do i empathize with them, it is hard work. the easy thing is to find the group, because we have it with technology, where you can belong, you do not need to think too much and you can just sit there and feel good. so, yeah. what you are saying is a real problem. how do we get there is another question? where people want to change them. some of the social pressure and movement, but the baseline is this.
i would encourage all of you, if you do not have a friend that disagrees with you politically, do not go make a friend you do not like, right? but try to find someone that thinks differently and try to have -- see if you guys can talk to each other and understand each other. i will tell you this, you take the furthest right and for this left arson, -- person, and you boil down what is their fear. the only reason conflict exists is because conflict arises from fear. if you talk to someone from the right and left, they give you an answer. and you go, no, what is your fear? for the most part, in a political setting, people are scared this country is not going to accept them or leave them behind. that is, when both people have -- a very different views recognize and looking each other's eyes and say your fear is the exact same as mine, that
disarms everybody. you begin to see things sympathetically. get off the internet. such a great --mr. elleithee: it is such a great point. i am a great believer that we are in this populace era because of that. because everybody feels like they in their communities are being left behind. you go and talk in rural communities or in an inner-city and hear the same challenges, the same concerns. but we are conditioned to just assume the worst of the other. we have been doing some polling at the institute for the past couple of years on the issue of civility and polarization. what we want to get is how bad do people think it is, who they blame, but do they really want it? how bad is it? everyone thinks it's bad? who are they blame, they kind of blame everyone including their own team but everybody. the last question, do they
really want more civility, to tackle the polarization? do you ask them do want more civility in politics, 93% say yes. then asked the question a little differently. agree or disagree with the statements. number one, common ground and compromise our noble goals we want our leaders to aspire to. 70% said they agree with that. they want, ground. they want compromise. next question. agree or disagree. leaders who compromise on my valleys i want them to stand up and fight the other side. 74% agree with that. of course i want common ground. you look at this mannish -- as this manifested itself, with members of congress, who say, crazy stuff, then raise $3 million in $25 increments overnight. more people on cable news saying crazy stuff and their ratings go
through the roof. break into the incentive structure. for those of you in the arena, how do you walk that line when people are saying, no i want you to get stuff done with the other side, just do not compromise on anything that is important to me. go ahead and say crazy stuff. rep. kinzinger: i will always say stuff like civility, common ground, then you always inevitably if you look at twitter, it is like i thought you were different. because i'm actually a conservative republican and it is like, oh i thought you were different. did you think i was a liberal democrat? i am not. i just thought we would be able to coexist and make each other better in this process. there are moments where you either have to have mature leaders or a a mature population. i do not mean mature like pejoratively, like you are immature, but in terms of how
you are looking at a political system. you are going to have crazy leaders, like we have right now, you're going to have crazy leaders, but if the population demands differently or better, then the country is fairly stable. if you have people with these passions, like this populism that is on fire, i think this is more of what we have had in the past. you've had leaders that then say, we understand what the division that is being stoked and the anger, but we are still going to work together to achieve these things, then you can survive that. unfortunately we are at a moment where both are lost. if you talk about the incentive structure. washington, d.c. and the whole capitol building, as ornate as it is, was created for one reason. it is a steam pot. you take all of the anger and the division and differences that exist in society, you distill them into that building in the political arguments. you have your political arguments. you let the steam out and then
you have a solution. that was what it was all crated for to prevent violence out here. that allowed us to solve our problems. what has happened is, that is what the founding fathers had in mind the idea of a republic not a direct democracy, what has happened is with the new medium invite -- environment, the incentive structure, people believe they know more in congress. members raise a ton of cash on fear. because if i tell you that i am the one that is going to protect either nancy pelosi or mitch mcconnell from killing your family, right, it is almost that bad you will part with anything. including your money to prevent that from happening. if i truly believe you're going to kill my wife and kid, i would give you every dollar i had, anybody would. that has been what -- that is
been happening in politics. every issue, we have laid out as a life-and-death thing for 12 years, as long as i have been in politics. it has gotten worse and worse. how do we change that? that is the one i do not have the answer to. we need to be able to recognize when we do not have the answer to everything and say there is somebody that does. i do not know who it is, maybe one of you. which is how do we within the constraints of free speech in the constitution, change the incentive structure. saying something crazy does not raise you to go out and win. there has to be some kind of financial campaign reform. secondarily, we need people to recognize when they are being swindled. how many of you are on -- you signed up for some campaign and now you're getting 30 spam emails day? -- emails a day?
that is doing more to radicalize people because when you look at the headline in your inbox and seeing 30 different messages a day of this person, everything, that messes with your mind. what we need is people to vomit that out and say no more. i have this organization, country first. it is trying to change this toxic tribalism. one thing i refuse to do is to raise money on fear. when we have to raise money, we do it in a way that is optimistic and hopeful. mr. elleithee: you put out a video today on twitter. rep. kinzinger: i'm a little angry today. [laughter] mr. elleithee: check it out is that on twitter -- it is on twitter. let me just record this. it is a fun rent. --rant. the crux of it is your
colleagues or children, that is what you said. my colleagues are children, talk about that. rep. kinzinger: the one thing i would do differently if i went back in time to this morning and recorded it. i would try to send out a more optimistic message, here is how we can make a difference, it is one thing to point out a problem and we have to do that. we need to be clear about what the problem is. i was sitting there and look, russia is invading ukraine. on fox news you have tucker carlsen who just asks questions and he made the comment about why should i not root for putin? why are we told we cannot root for putin? did putin, his list of issues, we have members of congress who say, yeah, we want ukraine to win, but zelenskyy is corrupt. gnocchi is not. -- no he is not.
none of us in this room unless there is a world war ii veteran has ever been at a moment in the world so important jill lyrically is right now -- geopolitically as right now. we have all benefited from the fact that the u.s. has been in the top couple countries and he moment. we live in a secure world, our biggest threat is nuclear weapons, but that is kind of existential. we know no one is going to start launching nukes at each other. we know nations border stay the same. this is the first time in 80 years that we have seen, for the sole purpose of a land grab or to exterminate a country something like this happened. this is a serious moment. i've been to the country of georgia and have to tell you, they have been sitting there with a third of their country occupied. all of this is going down.
i'm hearing about the latest outrage that is being provoked is that disney came out opposed to the florida law. now, there is all this boycott disney outrage of the day. it used to be dr. seuss. i hate cancel coach her on the right and left. i hate all of it. what i hate to is this stoking cultural anger and division for the sole purpose of ratings and money. i just sat down and said, at the most important moment in world history that any of us have ever been alive in and hopefully will ever be alive and because i do not want it to get any worse. we are sitting here debating the latest cultural issue, the fight. you're being governed by a bunch of children. there are good members of government, clearly they -- there really are. the ones getting attention are bunch of kids that do not understand the gravity of this moment. to an extent, we suffer from an
embarrassment of riches of sort, of living in such security, of being as wealthy as we are as a nation that we have ability -- an ability to argue about walt disney. it is important for us to put that message out to folks to say, demand better. right? when we talk about compromise and common ground and -- i'm not talking about someone giving up what they believe are becoming moderate or squish or not arguing. keep that. but recognize you live in a society with people that are different than you. by the way if you get married, that is something you have to learn too. you're going have to coexist with someone different than you. that is a good thing and skill. mr. elleithee: that last point reminded me of this poi -- polling i've seen that is been asking for several years -- has been asking for several years,
would you be offended if your child married outside of your fill in the blank. for the first time in recent years, outsider party, offends -- outside your party offends more than race or religion. [laughter] rep. kinzinger: think about that too. the most arbitrary thing in the world that you should pick a friend on if you really think about it, is there view of government. it is the most arbitrary -- i want to pick a friend on who i like to hang out with, plus common interest. your view of government is actually the stupidest reason to find someone who was a friend. but that is what we all use. mr. elleithee: in a few moments where going to open up the conversation to all of you. so start thinking about your questions. where painting a bleak picture -- we are painting a bleak sure in -- leak picture in this conversation. our motto is public service is a
good thing in politics can it too. is there a reason we should keep that motto? where is the optimism that we can turn the corner and that their politics affect the kind of change you are arguing we need to heal? rep. kinzinger: that is a great point. recognizing the first step to two recognizing your problem and admitting we have a problem. we have a problem. why am i optimistic and how can we heal? why is politics still an honorable thing to get in? for me, i represent 750,000 people. i will explain my freshman year i am looking out the window flying back to chicago, i see this -- you know how you know you're in the room with the pilot they will tell you. i'm looking at the window and i see this giant city and i realize that city is with a hundred thousand people and i
represent seven times that. whether it is on the city council or congress or anything, you recognize that no matter what the environment is in politics you are the voice for people that are angry, upset, happy. for your the one that has to take the voice. from a staff perspective. if you're working for a member of congress, you are the congressperson, staff is so important. so, that is where we can make real change. that is where we can make a real difference. until we put good people in this business that are willing to put their careers on the line, to say the right thing and what needs to be said then it is going to get worse. that is why i am optimistic. your generation, i have to tell you, is so interested and
engaged in the stuff and they are so fed up that we are not going to see a generation of people that are fed up and saying we're not going to pay attention, you all are fed up and you're going to beast -- beast burn to action -- be spurned to action. i really believe that we are at the end of those dark moments. and we are going to come back strong from this. that is in your hands. mr. elleithee: there are two standing mics, eat one any child -- one in each aisle. start lining up towards those microphones. when it is your turn i will call on you. tell us who you are, your school, your year, where you are from, and your question as distinctly as possible. feel free to take to the mics. let's start over here.
>> is this on? i am cassoulet -- i'm a freshman from college, i'm setting biology though that is another issue. [laughter] we can call my mom about that. my question is, you have painted this picture of everyone who thinks their issue is life or death. i want to know how we make the decision of who has to compromise and who gets to choose which issues have to give or where we actually have to compromise? i can say yeah there are issues i would compromise on, but i can say that because i am not a member of the groups that feel that they are being under attack. rep. kinzinger: that's a great question. by the way, just so you know, as you're trying to figure out biology, i failed out of college
my first year because i was in a fraternity. [laughter] i worked in the department store for six months, reapplied to the college and then got all straight a's and change my major in the process. no matter what challenges have you can be a congressman. [laughter] my second semester gpa was a .8. you have to work hard to get a .8. that's a little bit about me. in terms of how to figure out compromise, this is the art of human interaction. there is no science to it, no metric you can put on the issue and say this is x important to you y important to me. here's a mathematical situation. if you are married or dating someone, how was it that you figure out if you go to applebee's or chili's? the two best restaurants in the world. there is no science behind it. you have interactions and figured out. there are going to be tough issues that will never come to a solution.
probably guns, abortion, the ones nobody wants to talk about at the dinner table including me. you're going to have differences on those. there are also things like but take the issue of immigration. there are some people that say we want border security, some say that we want amnesty or a legal path to citizenship. if we secure the border, we put a legal path to citizenship, and xyz, that is a 90% issue americans can agree with. we can solve it without any issue but we're not doing it because both sides are set back in the corners. that is where when it comes to compromise there should be some things to solve. i would say, if i have to vote on the vote for a spending bill -- on the floor for spiny go and neither side likes it, usually it's a -- on the floor and neither side likes it, then usually is a good come from eyes. -- compromise. >> if my future partner pictures
the -- picks applebee's, then we are divorcing. [laughter] rep. kinzinger: applebee's is pretty good. mr. elleithee: let me follow up on that. thinking back to what you said, where you said your views on government are the stupidest reason to pick a friend. there are some people may be in this room who would say i do not know about that, who was a after charlottesville, that was a legit reason to pick a friend. after an insurrection, that is a legit reason to pick a friend. i have students who came into my office right after the insurrection. we were calling for civilians that was not the issue, justice was the issue, fairness is the issue. i did not know what to say. when you feel like your way of life, your identity, is under
assault, how do you approach healing in that case? i do not know if anyone is figured that out. rep. kinzinger: i don't think so. i would say it is one thing on the macro level to say i was in the insurrection, i'm on the committee investigating it. on a macro level, that is a huge deal. i also know some of my friends that in congress that voted differently than me on these issues, some of them think they are voting the right way. i do not agree with them. but it was interesting there is a macro and micro. the more you sit at home filled with hate and anger and fear, the shorter you're going to live and the more miserable your life will be. mr. elleithee: thanks so much for your question. >> hello i am luke, from boston, i major in math. thank you so much for coming to campus. my question is how do you recommend us having these conversations with family members?
you do not want to isolate your grandparents, aunts or uncles, but you also love them and do not want them to fall into this trap. to what extent do you recommend us having these conversations and how far should we go? rep. kinzinger: i'm glad you asked that question. it's really good. a lot of times with family, you do not need to. in some cases if mom or dad have been radicalized by this tv station or the other, there is no benefit to try to convince them otherwise. in that case it is to show love. at the same time you do not need to subject yourself to abuse. one of the recent january 6 writers that was can -- rioters those convicted said my death and to kill me if i told the law enforcement about his involvement in january 6. that is a toxic relationship. a year ago i got a letter from my dad's cousin. it started out with all my, what a disappointment you are to us and god.
it went through how we lost the trust of mark. oh great. it was my dad's cousins disowning me because of my position on january 6. i did not try to convince them. i for gave them in my heart -- forgave them in my heart and i cut off all contact with them. to the rent -- extent with your parents you do not need to. it is hard sometimes. but just try to love them as best you can. something is toxic and is harming you, cut it off. >> thank you. >> thank you so much for coming to talk with us. i want to dig in a little deeper on that. maybe not when you're talking with family members but say peers or people on the internet who may even make it explicit that they are not willing to budge on a certain point of view. are there rhetorical tactics you can use to maybe lead them away
from their own argument? rep. kinzinger: i'm a victim of getting too involved in twitter sometimes. i do not have it all together i want to be clear. the problem with the internet, twitter, twitter is a fantastic thing if you are a public servant to get a message out. like the video today. the problem is you are now faced with, i encourage you guys to go look at a unified challenge. the point is to get to people who think differently from each other, they are going to meet on zoom. it is a moderated discussion between them were you go through things like what are your views, fears, how would you compromise. we have never seen an example or two people have gotten off of that and hated each other -- where two people have gotten off of that and hated each other. whether it is a friend, it is showing your vulnerability in
humanity. hopefully they can show that back to you and understand. on the internet, i did not have an answer because, i don't know if too many people have been convinced of anything on the internet. but i also think it is important to represent your position. the best thing you can do and this is me giving myself advice, when you are going to be in an argument on the internet, try to see the face of human behind it. humans are complicated and awesome. but everybody is not this flat avatar you see on the internet. >> can i do a quick follow-up? what that tactic work with relatives per se? rep. kinzinger: i think if you are talking to a relative and their issue bothers you, showing yourself to be human, showing your concern and understanding their humanity and not going a -- and look if your dad is a
hard-core trumper, or whatever you do not like, your dad is on people. -- people. -- evil. he thinks that is right. it is part of military stuff. you have to think about the fact, like al qaeda, thinks they are right. they think they are the ethical ones. you have to think about it through that perspective. mr. elleithee: al qaeda is not right though. thank you so much for your service at all levels in the military. >> my name is drew. i work in the defense industry full-time. i'm from your nekc -- neck of the woods. my roommate was a conservative, we look at you and appreciate that.
rep. kinzinger: because or both of my supporters that is awesome. >> it is tough for two people of different reviews you can scream at each other but try to hook out. i have a soft spot for that and i'm curious if you want to leverage those types of organizations today for the type of benefit they brought then and still to this day, how do we revise a lot of those to bring society back into appreciating family values and other institutions? rep. kinzinger: it is a great question. i do not have the magic answer. back when aa, whatever year it was formed, it was about a one year to two year period, all of this was formed and it was formed because government was failing people.
people realized no one else is coming. we had this view in america that there's always going to be someone to come and rescue us from whatever moment we are in because there was has been. that is not happening. we are the people who have to come and rescue us. there is no magical person that is going to come down in a unicorn and say this is the solution. what you saw then was people that felt disconnected, depressed. they said no one is coming. we have to be the ones for change. that is the moment we are in now. one thing you see, in the skyrocketing mental health crisis, the stuff coming out after covid where people feel isolated, they hate each other, there is a desperate need for human contact. even for those of us who do not love human contact all of the time. there is a desperate need for humanity. i think when people understand that and when the answer to the mental health, seriously being
able to talk about mental health is extremely important. recognizing some of that solution also is just reconnecting people with people. that is how comes back organically. it is not going to be a bill in congress. people look at because it is the only thing on tv or on the internet. people look to d.c. to solve everything. d.c. solves only a few things. we are good at building up the military and your roads. everything else, we pretty much suck at. it is your job to do it. that is my rant. >> thank you. my name is carlos. i am a foreign service rep student. i used to work for a company and i know some people that call you a rhino. rep. kinzinger: i know a lot of people that call me a rhino. >> i am a venezuelan american. i know how dangerous it is when a lyrical party -- political parties cannot buy hate. my two questions, what is your
plan to work against the republicans being kidnapped by maga, trump, and how do you do that? can you bring some optimism towards that because it is hard to see it. following on your words about staff, how do i intern for you? rep. kinzinger: you have a resume drop in the back? we are happy to chat with you. look, in terms of the party, the republican is going through a bad moment in my view. my hope is that sanity prevails. there are people in this room who would not consider themselves pro- trump, but moderate to conservative. you're going to be part of the solution and remaking it. i personally thing if the republican party continues to go down this road it will cease to be a party because it is unsustainable.
just be honorable to what you believe. that is the hardest thing to do is take a step the very first time. when you speak out, that is when you lose your social group. that is when your social group turns on you. that is sometimes worse than death. i have been through that for a while. she has in some of that too. that is where you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel good. in terms of, where you from again? >> i am venezuelan american. rep. kinzinger: one of the really dangerous things we see in central and south america is when a new government comes in and prosecutes the old government. based on fear, darkness, lies. my wife is salvadoran. we see a lot of that as well. that is why we have to be very careful when we talk about prosecuting prior -- that is why i was against this lock her up chant.
there is a difference when you have an attempted insurrection against the country. the country requires, ability. self-governance is really hard. it is much easier to have an authoritarian. much easier. you do not have to think about anything. self-governance is hard. but there has to be a basic level of trust among everybody in self-governance. that also includes if you lose, you will lose honorably. >> i know you can't get into a lot of the details of the work of the generous six committee -- january 6 committee, do you think accountability is achievable? rep. kinzinger: i do. we are not a criminal investigation. we cannot throw anyone in jail. certainly doj can look at our work and make decisions off of that. it is public. for me, accountability is less about, we put out the report, we have our hearings the next day,
being accountable. it is about historic account ability. i will tell you anyone that is out there pretending like january 6 did not happen or it was tourists, in five or 10 years, they are going to be embarrassed about their role in history. i do not think i will be embarrassed about my role. it is not why i do it. it is not why have chosen to be on the committee. i do not care if i go down and up scaredy. but i know -- but i know i will not be embarrassed. i cannot say that about all of my colleagues. in five or 10 years with all of the disinformation out there, in five or 10 years there will be an accurate depiction and portrayal of what happened and who was responsible. that will be because of the work of the committee. for me, that is the goal. to make sure you can see what went wrong and how to never have that happen again. hopefully doj can take some of that and make people criminally accountable that deserve it.
>> hi, my name is cole. i am in the sss. on think depolarization and compromises great, especially when it is -- when we have the same values and different ways of getting to the values. what do we do when the values are contradictory and they cannot be put together? i'm going to ask about was something that happened yesterday. there was an anti- trans protest that happen on campus. how do we decrease a polarization with people who are like, you should not exist, or your relation does not matter. what do we do about that? rep. kinzinger: you move on with your life. if people will not accept you. if people have values that are completely -- that you cannot coexist. i could not find compromise with vladimir putin.
in some cases, that is where you have to be accountable to yourself and your own life and try to move on from it. i'm not saying someone is doing an anti-trans protest that you should not gonna counter protest, maybe you should. but you should not go home if you cannot control it and try to replay that in your mind so much that it hurts you. compromise is not let's all just get along. it is really understanding that the other side of a political argument is human and they are also not your enemy. if we can get to that basic level, we are going to be in a good spot. >> hi, congressman. my name is john and i'm a freshman in the school of foreign service. i am from long island, new york. i work part-time at the hill, as an intern i hear a lot of it on
the phone. my question is when certain elected officials have consistent public disapproval with their party, the examples that come to mind are representative andrew and -- a lot of people will throw their hands up and leave the party. my question is what has made you stay with republicans through your disapproval? in the natural follow-up to that, what about the 2020 -- 2022 republican party that is so redeemable as we approach the midterm election? rep. kinzinger: i answer it with this, the party i joined when i become a republican. i was six years old. probably some of you are like that. the party that i believe in that is missing today, i still believe, i hope can be fixed and solved. look, the republican party has been here since the 1850's and
it will probably be around for a long time. so the democratic party. what you have, in the past we had four parties. we really have gone from four parties to two. that is where you have to fight. i will say, that if this goes on for a while, and i see there is no redemption for the republican party, i am not wedded to be republican. i'm not a democrat. i do not believe in nine members and the democratic policies. it is just not who i am. without change there will be a point at which i will no longer consider myself republican. but i think the party is worth fighting for this moment, when it is being taken over by authoritarians. >> congressman thank you so much for being here and thanks for all that you do. that is a perfect segue into my question. i am jack, freshman, and i'm
from pittsburgh. my question is, as he talked about tribalism, i think about some of the other democracies in the world, like germany, new zealand, that are sometimes considered some of the healthiest democracies in the world. they have 4-5 parties. my question is after you talked about how we staff somewhat more of a four party system, is now the time for a breakup of those two party systems? if not, what you propose we should do about it? rep. kinzinger: i would love to see it. i would love to see competition. the problem is, the barriers in place are really high. let us say that i decided to run as an independent for president. it sounds great to everybody. then we start getting into issues. we have been brainwashed to believe there are only two sides to every issue. then somebody asks me are you pro-gun or anti-gun.
i answer, well i am the other side, so i'm going to go vote for this person. you have been programmed by the man to believe that their only two sides to every issue. there's actually a lot of sites every issue. even on controversial things. there's different increments of stuff. that is a problem. how do we break the mindset and the institutional barriers if you want to run as an independent, you have to have 10,000 signatures from people who have never once voted in a primary or if you want to run as a republican or democrat you only need 300. those are some hurdles. but i would love to see competition happen. >> if you don't mind me asking, is there anything that this current congress and system can do now to facilitate that? there are people on both sides that would like to see it. rep. kinzinger: i do not think we can do anything. you guys can. if there is a movement and
understanding -- let us say from -- for the president from canada, we want someone to change the system. we do not care what they believe. it is not about issues but saving democracy. we are going to make sure this happens, you can make it happen. but if we get back into -- the thing that is most important, 40's then on taxation on these tired issues -- what is your stand on taxation, on these tired issues, a presidential candidate says we're going to let congress decide these issue s? and to protect you because our president is very powerful when it comes to foreign policy, we can change the system. can we get there? i do not know. good question. >> good evening, my name is charlie, i am a sophomore in college. you are the first speaker in this series. my questionis, who should be the
next three speakers. who else should we be listening to, either in academia, journalism or on the others of the aisle in this conversation? rep. kinzinger: did you guys get jesus in here? [laughter] look, somebody i really admire, who i think you guys should have us arthur brooks. he used to be at american enterprise institute. he is conservative but you would not know what. he talks about human empowerment, the importance of humanity. he has written a new book about the second half of your life and how your career peaks way before you realize it and how to embrace that. one -- that is white no one on the conservative side -- no one can find the quibbling -- equivalent of him on the democrat side.
i will keep my answers short because i know we are running out of time. >> thanks for being here congressman. my name is gabe i'm a sophomore in college. you are talking about the direction of your party. fred upton announce he will not be running for reelection. the 10 republicans who voted for president trump last year have announced that. i'm curious about what kind of message that sends about the party you are fighting about. rep. kinzinger: the question is this, what is a better message, not taking on an unwinnable fight or taking it on and getting crushed? which one does trump gloat over? in my case, even if none of this was happening, i probably would not run again anyway. 12 years as a long time in this job. i have a new kid. fairly new marriage. i am so passionate about fighting for healing in this
country and the political stuff that i think it hinders me being in the house right now. i have to take all of these controversial votes. you talk about these big things and you was audiences. it does not send a message about the people, it sends a message about the party. you say you want honorable people to go and vote with their conscious and when they do you throw them out. i think it is not the best message. it is the reality of where we are. witches, -- which is if you are in the moment to impeach a president for an insurrection, it is tough to survive. mr. elleithee: let us take two more and i have a closing question. rep. kinzinger: anybody behind the two front ones, you were slow. do not blame us. >> i have a fast one. thanks so much for being here, my name is jack.
my question is as a segue from the previous one. wit a great conversation about the origins of polarization. going into this on the look torah level, one of the main reasons -- on the look torah level -- the fact that the number of even districts has been dwindling your after year, i want -- on a practical level, how do you faster -- foster candidates who are more moderate or open my eyes -- or open to compromise into becoming more polarized? rep. kinzinger: vote in the primaries. country first, we have a movie called -- movement called primary first. if you live in a republic district you may be at republican or democrat, you should pull a republican ballot. if you're going to be represented by a republican, you have no voice on who that is going to be.