On America’s 243rd anniversary of declaring independence from the stranglehold of King George, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash declared freedom from the stranglehold of the two-party system in this morning’s Washington Post.
“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.”
Amash is a true believer in the Founding principles of the country and couches his Hayekian-libertarianism in the rhetoric of that generation. In terms of messaging, it is a brilliant strategy to show how far adrift we are from the principles laid out in our founding documents.
I have long advocated that libertarians should use the Founding as a yardstick to delegitimate our current government in the minds of the average American. Utopian concepts are hard to sell, but the myths of America are firmly set in their minds. It is the intellectual equivalent of wrapping medicine in cheese slices for your puppy.
In his opinion piece, Amash ties the current moment to Washington’s Farewell Address.
True to Washington’s fears, Americans have allowed government officials, under assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of powers, federalism and the rule of law. The result has been the consolidation of political power and the near disintegration of representative democracy.
These are consequences of a mindset among the political class that loyalty to the party is more important than serving the American people or protecting our governing institutions.
In a Facebook comment today, a Republican fought back for his dying brand by saying, “[Amash] is expeditiously trying to become a national name to have a run at the POTUS position. He is a fake. A fraud. A phony.”
He cited Amash’s sinking poll numbers amongst Republicans in Michigan’s third district as the real reason he’s abdicating his Congressional seat. The commenter sees it as a cynical ploy to promote Justin Amash.
My response? Republicans should be concerned that a Constitutional conservative has been rejected by their party. Thomas Jefferson or George Washington would not be welcome in the modern Republican Party. This person clearly doesn’t know Justin Amash, and the more they do, the more they’ll realize they are wrong. (Fortunately, you can learn more about Amash by listening to his interview with Brian Nichols.)
The commenter is right that Justin Amash will run for President as a Libertarian. Party officials won’t confirm that they’ve had talks with Amash in an official capacity. Despite this denial, the national Chair shared an article by Amash recently, and staff members of the national party all shared the Amash’s piece today (while finding any excuse not to share debates between the currently declared candidates.) State directors for social media, outreach, and fundraising have been identified in multiple states.
Personally, I will vote for Justin Amash. I would not vote for any other currently declared Libertarian, Republican, or Democratic candidate. Amash doesn’t have the baggage or suspect presentation of Bob Barr. He has the philosophical foundation and boldness that Johnson could never muster.
Amash is intelligent, accomplished, and the majority of Americans will embrace him. This is a chance for the Libertarian Party to make gains like never before. Not only could they see increased electoral success, but hearts and minds could be won for liberty as no Libertarian candidate has done in our generation.
This advancement requires the various factions of the libertarian movement to stop arguing and start working. Hopefully, libertarians will rise to this occasion.
Finally, some free advice for Amash from an old LP veteran: Stay away from Ron Nielson and Russ Verney and the failed strategies they pursued. They focused on grassroots organizations in single states to win in the Electoral College. Focus on the Ron Paul strategy of big events and rallies and media across the country. Top-of-ticket LP candidates are marketing opportunities for the ideas of liberty. Ron Paul built a movement with his strategy, and Bob Barr and Gary Johnson have been left in the dustbin of history. Amash has always been the heir apparent to Ron Paul, and it is time to pick up that mantle.