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Amash: It developed after law school, actually. I found that my views, although I was Republican, were different than a number of conservatives in my class. There weren’t that many, there were probably five at my law school, but I was different than those five. I was wondering: What is it about me that makes my views different or not fit in with the typical Republican way of thinking?
reason: One of the things you noticed was that when you would talk to conservatives in a legal setting, they would always be on the side of the prosecutor and you would be on the side of the defendant.
Amash: Yeah, I had a natural sympathy toward the defense side. I believe strongly in protecting people’s constitutional rights and making sure they get due process.
I spent some time thinking about what my views were. I actually did a Google search. I went on Google and searched terms that were basically my views.
reason: Do you remember what they were? And was “safe search” on or off?
Amash: I don’t remember, but F.A. Hayek popped up pretty quick. His Wikipedia article.
reason: What was it about Hayek’s work that you find particularly interesting and relevant to your life as a legislator?
Amash: With Hayek the connection was pretty clear instantly. He believed really strongly in this spontaneous order, that things would come together on their own. Sort of like an evolutionary process. If you allow people to make decisions, they’ve got the knowledge because the decisions they’re making are closest to them. Why should someone else make it from far away? And if you allow people to make their own decisions, you actually get good outcomes for society. That’s something that I think about a lot as a legislator.
reason: Behind me on the wall there’s a picture of Ayn Rand. How does she speak to your worldview?
Amash: Rand speaks in a sort of different way. I mean, it’s more of an emotional appeal.
reason: I’m sure she would be very angry to hear that.
Amash: I know! But when I read some of her works, I find myself connecting to a lot of the characters, feeling the same frustrations they feel. And I think that’s an important aspect of her work.
reason: When did you first encounter Rand?
Amash: Probably not until four or five years ago.
reason: So when you read a novel—Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead—you find yourselves hemmed in by the sort of over-reaching legislators of businesses?