Ron Kind says he wants to leave the United States House of Representatives after 26 years on a hopeful and optimistic note. But that is hard in the current political environment, he made clear during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday (Dec. 1, 2021).
The state of American democracy is “very fragile,” he told Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. He said that on Jan. 6, 2021, the nation was “a majority away” from having an armed overthrow of the government when people stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Joe Biden from being formally declared to be the president. He said that if Republicans had been in the majority, there likely would have been a major constitutional crisis.
More generally, Kind, a moderate Democrat who has represented western Wisconsin in the House since 1997, said, “Unquestionably, our politics have gotten very toxic in recent years.” That is hard for someone like him., he said, because he has always tried to have good relationships with members of Congress from across the spectrum.
“Now it’s more about destroying the other side, demonizing them, making people fearful of the other party,” he said. “I think we’re in a very perilous time for our democracy.”
Kind said President Donald Trump and his administration “took us to a very dark place” characterized by authoritarian tendencies and lack of respect for citizens. He called Trump “a narcissistic bully.”
But he also criticized Republicans more broadly and said the party needs to purge itself of the characteristics Trump encouraged. Kind said “one party” — he didn’t use the word “Republican” — is trying to convince people that diversity is something to be feared. “It is so easy to divide people along racial lines,” he said. In his view, diversity is “a source of great strength” for the country.
His biggest concern, Kind said, is that “we have a lost a factual basis, a common set of truths in this country.” He said, “An alternate reality has been created for factual matters where you can make things up.” The biggest example is what he called “the big lie” about who won the presidential election.
Good government, he said, requires give and take and compromise and too many new legislators in both Washington and Madison are not willing to do that.
Kind said he is proud of a lot that he has accomplished in his years in Congress. He said his decision not to run for re-election was not based on concern he would lose in the 2022 election. He won narrowly in 2020 and Trump carried the district by a large margin. Kind said when he announced his decision that he had “run out of gas.” He has a year left in his term and he said he has not made plans for what to do after that. He said he intends to stay in Wisconsin.
The full interview with Kind may be viewed by clicking here.