Op-Ed: Justin Amash, LP Interloper or A Way Forward?

Are we witnessing a paradigm shift in the political landscape? Representative Justin Amash (I or is it L-M) made an announcement that is sure to make epic waves in the 2020 presidential field. He expressed his intention to explore a presidential bid under the Libertarian Party banner. While no stranger to controversy, (Amash has proven to be a contentious figure by both Republicans and Democrats), still he represents a rare element of consistency….that might be a good thing.

“Today, I launched an exploratory committee to seek the @LPNational’s nomination for president of the United States. Americans are ready for practical approaches based in humility and trust of the people.

We’re ready for a presidency that will restore respect for our Constitution and bring people together. I’m excited and honored to be taking these first steps toward serving Americans of every background as president.”

~ Justin Amash (via Twitter 04.28.20) In addition to this unambiguous Tweet, he included a link to his newly launched website: https://amashforamerica.com/

To be clear, this is an announcement to seek the LP nomination. An expressed intention does not mean he has secured the Libertarian Party nod. However, he does have the benefit of being the only Libertarian Party member to currently hold a national office and, without dropping names, he has the support of some prominent members of the libertarian community. While not a shoe-in, he does stand a pretty decent chance of securing the support of the LP National convention. This, in itself, could demonstrate his ability to unite multiple factions. If he can bring a majority of the splintered affiliations within the LP to some measure of unity against a common threat, the DC Duopoly, then his viability as a competitor in the 2020 presidential election should never again be questioned.

That is really what is at stake here. I registered with the Indiana Libertarian Party a year ago (speaking of which, my membership is due for renewal). Granted, IN is an open primary state, but I put money and trust into the INLP because;

  1. I believed Justin would run as an Libertarian.
  2. My views had long ceased to be represented in the GOP.
  3. The LP provides the only legitimate challenge to Duopoly primacy in the nation’s capital.
  4. It has become abundantly clear that we are at a point in America where our real choice going forward is between Liberty and Tyranny.
  5. I heard, they had cookies.

The diversity of the Libertarian Party is, at present, its greatest weakness. Should the opportunity we have been presented with be recognized, the acceptance of an Amash ticket could bring a vast array of independents into the cause. Unfortunately, this is just the kind of thing some in the LP oppose. I understand. Purity of message should never be sacrificed for a Johnny-come-lately interloper who stands the chance of bringing in a drove of opportunists anxious to exploit a political opening. And that is how some long-time Libertarians view him. But is that accurate?

There is no one currently holding office who has done more in Washington, DC to advance the libertarian cause than Justin Amash. His voting record is consistent, his values are solid (even if some disagree with them), his approach to “politics” is refreshingly reckless, he is willing to lose it all in order to affect real change and he has refused to kneel in the face of party pressure. He has repeatedly claimed his political philosophy to be libertarian. He adheres to Hayekinomics and represents a view of free markets that is so far removed from its current form as to be alien. He opposes the surveillance state that has its foundations in the fear surrounding 9/11 and frequently moves to dismantle it. He has been a vocal opponent of indefinite foreign military excursions around the globe, placing blame on Congress, where it is rightly due. He was a cofounder of the once libertarian-leaning House Freedom Caucus. He has refused to be “Party” to the fear that motivated many of his colleagues to abandon long-held views for party cohesion. He has demonstrated his disregard for the Duopoly by walking away from both. He has taken a lifetime membership with the LP to demonstrate his commitment and now displays the first (and only) Libertarian Party identifier beside his name in the United States House of Representatives.

Yes, he remained in the GOP, doing what many still believe can be done, to change it from within. It is clear, he found it repugnant long before he officially listed himself a free agent on July 4th, 2019. His credentials have been established. He is and has always been a libertarian. Now he has taken a leap of faith by becoming a Libertarian. Still this will not be enough for those who built the house he has moved into. I would like to put a little English on the subject for those infuriated by the move he has made, ostensibly to come in and take the Party away from those who have labored so long. Justin Amash stands to lose more than any other member in the history of the Party ever gained should he be rejected for the LP presidential nomination.

I approach the Libertarian membership with caution…and restraint. I left the GOP not to infiltrate another party with my ideas of “how it should be,” but because I dug through all of the chaos and fractured positions that comprise its base and understood what it truly was. The Libertarian Party is about the individual’s pursuit of liberty and that core foundation is at the heart of what our founders intended to defend. Every member is one of those individuals. That should be the defining characteristic of the LP and make it the most formidable force in American politics but for the fact that there are too many individuals trying to collectivize the organization.

Just consider how many groups one banner contains…each vying for supremacy over the party. AnCaps, Mises, fringe, LGBT, pro-choice, pro-life, minarchists, voluntarians, anarchists, isolationists, deregulationists, fiscal conservatives, federalists, conservatarians Ex-GOP, social liberals, classical liberals, libertines, constitutionalists and affiliated independents. No human being could possibly appease such a broad coalition. Whose message represents the purity of the party? Where is the unicorn…the white whale…that deserves the party’s favor?

This is the point when our party needs to be intellectually honest. Will we continue to provide America with a protest vote every 4yrs while running candidates down-ballot (way down-ballot) and skim the surface for a couple percentage points of the electorate or provide a viable option…a genuine choice…for the people to make? I cannot make this decision for the party, though I am trying to make a case for taking, what I believe to be, the best course of action.

To be sure, the Libertarian Party is not the GOP (then or now). It is distinct and possesses its own identity. There are Ex-GOP members that consider joining the LP a bridge too far, yet still support an Amash presidency. So how much will the party truly compromise to accept him as their nominee? Those who join briefly will leave no lasting impression on the party as a whole. Those who join and commit will recognize their freshman status. They will find their place among the membership and participate in their own capacity. Just recognizing the recruitment opportunity being presented is worth consideration with or without Amash’s nomination. A larger number than ever before have a vested interest in reclaiming our liberty from the Duopoly. Many are desperate to have that chance.

We have all watched Representative Amash use Twitter to both excoriate Trump and teach those who follow his account about the inner workings of government. He is constitutionally adept. He knows how to properly apply the law in a variety of circumstances. He can explain, in simple terms, why and how government has overstepped its bounds. He can articulate the libertarian message with life application. He understands best how dysfunctional government is and the hand the Republican and Democrat Party apparatus has played in consolidating power under an elite few. Most of all, I believe he is the only one of the LP candidates that could hold his own on a debate stage with Donald Trump and Joe Biden. He offers the general public a message of liberty that few have been exposed to in decades. He is stable, young, intelligent, considerate, consistent and more than capable. He has a vision of the future that could resonate with a broad base of Americans. He can dial back the “…partisan death spiral…” that is tearing our country at present. He is also willing to dismantle the disproportionate amount of power that has been consolidated in the presidency over the last few generations.

Libertarians are a raucous and vocal lot who love to debate, hunt down and eradicate statists and protect the party purity (even if that purity can never quite be defined) from outsiders. Based on what I have seen of the other two parties, infiltration is a valid concern. When I joined, I did so recognizing my position as a guest in Your house. I do not intend to over turn, overhaul or undermine the party. I do not plan to infiltrate and subvert it from within. I genuinely want the LP to succeed. I also have no reason to believe Justin intends to do any differently. How that success is defined going forward is up to all of us.

It is not my place to tell the party how to respond to Justin Amash. It is my place to try to influence the party, more specifically the 1000+ delegates who will be deciding this issue for all of us, the benefit that he offers. I don’t believe I have to elaborate on the gravity of this year’s convention. I only ask you to carefully consider whether seniority or qualifications are more important in choosing our candidate for president of the United States.

Justin Amash chose to stand with the LP. Will the LP choose to stand with Amash?

Eric Buss is a primary contributor to pissedoffconservative.com, a frequent contributor to thestridentconservative.com and have also had an article published on thelibertarianrepublic.com. He has been a member of the Indiana Libertarian Party for over a year.

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