Profiteers hijack the conservative message

The following article was written by Congressman Adam Kinzinger:

It was finally said. After a tumultuous five years as speaker of the House, John Boehner nailed the problem with the Republican Party on the head. Many in the base might have defined it as needing to fight harder, yell louder and compromise less. I have heard these arguments since I was first sworn into office nearly five years ago.

I am part of the rabble-rousing Class of 2010. People from all walks of life who came to Washington, D.C., to make a difference—and we did. We cut our own office budgets by 14 percent so we could live by example. We held the president's feet to the fire on Obamacare. We cut more than $2 trillion of real spending from the budget, taking discretionary and military spending to the lowest levels in years. Many are unaware that today the deficit is the lowest it has been since 2007 and represents the fastest decline of a federal deficit in American history.

With this record, all without the presidency and only one half of the legislative branch for most of the time, one would naturally expect high praise for the man leading that charge: Speaker Boehner. Any senator running for president with that record could expect to be a top contender. Yet we all know that is not the case. In a CBS interview just after announcing he would leave his post, Boehner nailed the reason: the false prophets (they could be called “the profits”). Their sole goal is to promote purity for profit. These are talk-show hosts and pundits who anger the base to hook an audience and sell ad space. Scream louder, get angrier, call people names, and the checks roll in.

Some so-called "think tanks" in Washington, D.C., even create score cards, often contrived and authored by young, unelected people, simply to drive the fundraising effort that pays their salaries. Just look at your recent emails or pleas for cash. It's not uncommon to read “we are the ones keeping the GOP pure," or "purge the RINOs." These profiteers hijacking the tea party label for their own self-interest are neither Republicans nor conservatives, and they certainly don't represent the best of any wing of our party.

What does it take to be a real conservative today according to those false prophets? It often requires voting against the Republican agenda, preventing our majority from acting its will and requiring leaders to beg Nancy Pelosi for votes to pass do-or-die legislation. A few years ago, we prided ourselves on protecting small business; today, the prophets attack the Chamber of Commerce. We used to take pride in our exports and manufacturing; today, the “profits” call Ex-Im Bank an anathema, despite every industrialized nation having one. We used to be the party for a strong national defense, but the “profits” say keeping the ruthless sequester on our military is a top priority.

A CONSERVATIVE'S CORE IDEALS

Those examples go on and on. The truth is, as a conservative Republican myself, the standards espoused by these “profits” often go against our party's core ideals. I've come to believe that being a conservative, according to them, is more about tone and less about actual beliefs. The louder you yell, the more conservative you are.

Americans are frustrated, myself included, by the Washington status quo. I know the mother of three, the blue-collar laborer, the libertarian student and countless others who represent the real tea party. They love their country and have great ideas, ideas that should be at the table. However, the very progress conservatives are hungry for is being stifled by those who would have us believe we can have everything we want without compromise, especially with a Democrat in the White House. Actually, President Barack Obama and the prophets have one thing in common: They both promise their audiences the unattainable, a one-party agenda.

Government has been built on compromise, from the Constitutional Convention forward. The Republican Party needs leadership that can reach beyond the entertainment and profit motives of the “profits” and spark new hope in the hearts of the American people.

I'm done pretending this problem doesn't exist. I'm tired of seeing our party destroyed from the inside. Many would recommend I not even submit this for fear of retribution by the false prophets. However, I've spent a little time defending my country as an Air Force pilot, a job I continue to this day in the Air National Guard. If we are going to ask our young men and women to be willing to die for our nation, shouldn't we be willing to give our careers to do what's right?

Adam Kinzinger represents Illinois' 16th Congressional District in the U.S. House. He sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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