Justin Amash’s Pursuit of Happiness
By Remso W. Martinez
…we owe it to future generations to stand up for our constitutional republic so that Americans may continue to live free for centuries to come. Preserving liberty means telling the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that we’ll no longer let them play their partisan game at our expense.
Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.
— Justin Amash
In July of 2018, I was couch crashing at a friend’s apartment in Washington D.C. He was a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and for the first time during his brief time working in the House of Representatives felt like he could truly be his authentic self. Why did he fee this way? Because two weeks earlier he had went on Facebook Live and announced he would be leaving politics permanently.
“Maybe I’ll do something drastic and become a Libertarian,” he said, puffing on a cigarette on his back porch. “Maybe I could do many things, but I’m out the door at this point.“
This was an odd conversation to be having. After years of being a failed political consultant, I had finally been making inroads within the Republican Party, only to be here listening to an elected Republican tell me he was considering jumping into the obscure third party I had spent years trying to separate myself away from.
Now, almost a full year later, I’m seeing a similar situation play out with ex-Republican Justin Am-ash. This is a story about Amash that has really nothing to do with him. Everything that could already be said about him has already been said, but frankly a lot of “insiders” and “experts” are missing the bigger picture. Justin Amash’s decision to leave the Republican Party isn’t a game ch-anger, it’s not a signal of the times, and it’s not a fist step to the “yellow brick road”.
The first two campaigns I ever staffed and managed were with Libertarian and Independent candidates. They were both bright, intelligent men offering solutions to the problems their constituents had; they listened, they reached out, and for a bright minute on both campaigns it seemed like both men could have been starting on a successful path to elected office.
Voters don’t want solutions however, they want accommodations and conveniences. Both men, running outside of the two-party machine, could deliver what voters wanted but couldn’t give them that sense of tribal identity they so craved. Voters all want to think that they are independent, strong-willed individuals, but they fear judgement and ostracization more than they fear bad policy.
When you look at the large and growing number of independents in America, what is not understood in the data and charts is that there are no “independents” really. Split ticket voters make up a minuta of the overall voting populace and, more often than not, these so-called “independent voters” typically vote for one party their entire lives. That’s the funny thing about voters – they want a loving relationship without the commitment. They want to be gifted without giving anything in return. They want to vote for one party without ever having to be held accountable for the party’s actions. They want to support a politician’s successes but have plausible deniability when they fail or mess up.
American voters are that ex-girlfriend of yours that used to say that they didn’t want anything exclusive, but then threatened to set your car on fire because she saw you laugh at the blonde barrista’s joke when you ordered your coffee at Starbucks.
Justin Amash won’t win re-election in his district for the same reason Gary Johnson came in last for U.S. Senate in New Mexico (a state where he had been a popular governor for two full terms) during the contentious 2018 mid-term elections: because American voters feel undying loyalty to political parties who are far from loyal to them.
Bernie Sanders has union money and Angus King has his own money, but men like Amash? Good intentions are only going to go so far. All that work he did for his district, all those votes he made that his constituents liked? All those things he did went out the window as soon as he tossed out his “R” card.
Remso W. Martinez is the author of Stay Away from the Libertarians and the upcoming book How to Succeed in Politics. He hosts the Remso Republic and The Remso Martinez Experience podcasts. He also recently became the editor of the Washington Times Opinion section.