The Ripon Forum

Volume 48, No. 1

Winter 2014 Issue

Ripon Profile of Adam Kinzinger

By on July 16, 2014

Name: Adam Kinzinger Ripon Profile of Adam Kinzinger-page-001

Occupation: U.S. Representative, Illinois’s 16th District

You became an elected county official at the ripe old age of 20. What did this early experience teach you? Being elected to a local office at such a young age taught me the importance of being accessible to my constituents. I saw just how important it is to bring the government back to the people and to be a valuable resource for the same folks who elected me. I believe this philosophy allows me to make a positive difference in people’s lives and enables me to well serve the people of the 16th District.

Your desire to serve others is evident in your distinguished public service and military record. What advice would you give to those seeking to give back to their country? If you believe in what you’re doing, it’s worth it. Giving back to your country, or community, is simply one of the most rewarding experiences one can do with their time and energy. When I speak to high school students trying to figure out what to do with their lives, I always tell them to chase their passion, not a paycheck. I hope everyone can find it their duty to in some small way improve the lives of those around them.

With 24/7 news coverage and social media everywhere in our lives, why do you think Americans feel so disconnected from Washington these days? What can be done to reverse that trend? You’re right, it seems that we are more heavily bombarded with information these days than ever before. With one news story after the other focused on the latest crisis, it is easy for the average person to feel disconnected and disenchanted with Washington. But, I hope people can find optimism in their own representatives; to know that they are being heard and that it is worth being engaged. I think a way to reverse the trend is to be more selective of the information one consumes. I promise not every headline is bad, and there are plenty of good people doing great things out there. If you look for the good, you’ll find it.

A question about foreign policy — amid increasing violence and reports of a resurgent Al-Qaeda in Iraq, what do you believe America’s role in that country should be moving forward? Al-Qaeda is the #1 enemy to the United States; as such we need to ensure that Al-Qaeda does not feel safe wherever it operates. Our country has sacrificed a lot in order for a free Iraq, and now we must protect it. If we are going to live up to our commitments, we need to push Al-Qaeda back. I believe by using limited airstrikes, and by allowing our strong intelligence assets to work with the Iraqi government, we can ensure Al-Qaeda has no significant presence in Iraq again. As Americans, we must keep our commitments to the world to regain the trust of our allies, and for our enemies to fear us.

You have been targeted by some special interest groups for not being conservative enough. Yet, in a divided government, the need for compromise has never been greater. How have you tried to strike this careful balance? I serve the people of the 16th district, not special interest groups. As representative for the people of the 16th district, I try to serve as humbly and honorably as I can, regardless of politics. I believe we can stand firm in our principles while also recognizing the need for incremental progress. No deal will ever be perfect. In divided government, it is easy to vote no; getting to yes is the hard part.

Finally, many have tabbed you as an up-and-comer in the conference. How do you manage these lofty expectations with the basic challenges of a second-term Member? My focus in Congress is getting the folks of the 16th District back to work, reigning in government spending, and ensuring we pass down to the next generation a country stronger and more free than the one we were given. I believe that if I stay focused on those important issues and vote my conscience, I will be able to consider my time in politics a success, no matter what happens.

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