Rep. Justin Amash Profiled: Moving Forward with Ron Paul Republicanism

Good detailed profile of one of our better congressman, Michigan Republican Justin Amash, in Detroit News. Some highlights:

As a young Michigan state representative with a penchant for casting the sole "no" vote on legislation in Lansing, Justin Amash wondered how his independent streak would fare in Congress.

So Amash flew to Texas in early 2010 to ask advice from someone with a history of bucking the establishment in Washington: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Paul explained to Amash that voting against the Republican Party in Congress may be a difficult path, but he encouraged Amash, saying sticking to the limits of the Constitution and fighting for civil liberties wins support among constituents. "Liberty is popular," Paul said, according to Amash.

Since Amash, 31, was elected to Congress that same year he's managed to carry out Paul's advice, as the two congressmen are among those who most frequently vote against the GOP leadership in their steadfast following of the Constitution. OpenCongress.org said the two — and North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones — most often buck their party.

Though Amash doesn't agree with Paul on everything, including nuances on foreign policy, tax breaks and earmarks, their political philosophies have been in step, albeit in the minority in Congress. OpenCongress.org said Amash and Paul cast similar votes 86 percent of the time.

"I think he was well on his way," Paul said of his Texas meeting with Amash. "It wasn't like I invented Justin Amash. Justin just needed a little confidence building."

What began as a meeting in Texas between political mentor and protégé has evolved into a relationship that's taken on greater importance as Paul, 76, prepares to leave Congress at the end of his 12th term in January 2013. Amash of Cascade Township near Grand Rapids says he's ready to take up the torch in the House and believes the movement Paul has started and grown during three runs for president means it won't be long before he's not so alone.

Paul has been the "godfather of the liberty movement" within the Republican Party, Amash said. While "no one can replace Ron Paul," Amash says he will do what he can in the House — along with Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — to advance the principles of strict constitutional governance, smaller government, non-interventionist foreign policy, transparency and civil liberties.

"We will do our best to carry the liberty movement forward," Amash said....

"It's really going to change the way the Republican Party operates over the next several decades," Amash said. "People like Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and myself are just the beginning of a very big movement here. …" In a decade or more, Amash believes "a majority or a large minority of the Republican Party will hold the same views."

Said Paul: "He may well be right. Let's hope so."....

Amash is a very 21st century politician in his use of newer means to communicate his ideas to voters:

He's the only congressman to post an explanation of every vote on his Facebook page, with a Feb. 15 vote on naming a New York post office marking his 1,000th straight vote explanation posting.

Sometimes, explanations are needed, he says, like why the libertarian-leaning Amash was the sole "no" Republican vote on a Nov. 1 resolution affirming "In God We Trust" as the country's motto and encouraging its public display on public buildings. "The faith that inspired many of the Founders of this country — the faith I practice — is stronger than that," Amash wrote on his Facebook page. "Trying to score political points with unnecessary resolutions should not be Congress's priority."

[Greg] McNeilly [a Michigan GOP strategist] says Amash's communication skills give him a leg up on Paul.

"I think Justin is a more effective communicator, not just because of his tactic of using Facebook," he said. "He's a more fluid communicator. Part of that is by training. He went to law school and Dr. Paul went to medical school."

More on Amash and Ron Paul, where they differ and how Paul sees this next-generation supporter of his principles:

Amash has found an ally in Paul on legislation. Of the six resolutions Amash has sponsored, Paul has signed on to half of them, including a bill last year to cease military operations in Libya unless Congress authorizes such use of force and another bill to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Both bills had Democratic support, but failed to go anywhere in Congress.

Of the 48 bills Paul sponsored this session, most do not have fellow sponsors. Amash signed on to his legislation to audit the Federal Reserve system and another to repeal a controversial section of the National Defense Authorization Act that permits military detentions of some terrorist suspects in the United States.

Still, there's about 10 percent of things the two congressmen don't see eye to eye on, Amash says, though Paul sees them as nuances. One example is the strategy in killing Osama bin Laden. Paul would have preferred another channel such as the trial and hanging of Iraq's Saddam Hussein than a covert invasion of Pakistan, whereas Amash is comfortable with the tactic used to kill the al-Qaida leader. Amash is against targeted tax breaks, whereas Paul wants tax breaks for all and believes a tax credit for certain programs along the way is a step toward that goal.

And Paul supports the principle of congressional earmarks, believing all spending is essentially an earmark and without it the spending power would be transferred to the president. However, Amash argues earmarks lead to larger appropriations bills.

Paul believes Amash just needed some initial encouragement. "I don't think he needs it so much any more," Paul said. "I think his feet are firmly planted. I don't think he needs me to guide him anymore."

Paul doesn't view Amash as a protégé, rather as a friend. Their staffs communicate frequently, Paul said, and if he's gone from Congress, he'll seek out Amash to discuss finer points on issues.

"I trust him," Paul said. "I'll take advice from him now."

Amash will be facing what could be a tough re-election as he's been redistricted into a more Democrat-leaning district, which I blogged about earlier in the month.

Amash appears in my forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • sarcasmic||

    tl;dr

  • CatoTheElder||

    Amash was one of the three dissenting votes on HR 347, Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011.

    This law permits Secret Service agents to designate any place they wish as a place where free speech, association and petition of the government are prohibited. And it permits the Secret Service to make these determinations based on the content of speech.

  • Kochtopussy||

    Topic of discussion: Was this law designed with the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street in mind? You may only choose one.

  • ||

    false dichotomy but nice try.

  • ||

    Was this law designed with the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street in mind?

    Yes.

  • Kochtopussy||

    Dammit!

  • ||

    You mean the people? Yes, it was designed with them in mind.

  • ||

    I am clearly spending too much time on this site. I saw the headline "Rep. Justin Amash Profiled," but what I read was "Rep. Justin Amash Prolfeed."

  • ||

    So basically out of 535 Senators and Congresspersons, 2 have some liberty cred.

    It's kind of disturbing that we see 0.37% as...positive?

  • Gojira||

    Don't worry; just keep voting republican, and eventually we'll push the party in a libertarian direction! I call it the "Thousand Year Plan".

  • ||

    Look, Jimbo, I know that Romney's a terrible candidate, but you have to vote for him, because otherwise, the identical shithead in the White House will be the other TEAM! Do you see why this is so important now?!?

  • Gojira||

    But he's not identical...he has an (R) after his name! That's a significant distinction! Congress won't let him do any of the crazy stuff that he wants to, the way they would let a democrat!

  • Kochtopussy||

    Besides, R comes later in the alphabet, so it feels like less of a threat.

  • Gojira||

    I think "R" has slightly more sinister connoctations about it than "D" does.

    "D" is for dog, and who doesn't love dogs (aside from SWAT teams)?

    "R" on the other hand, as everyone knows, is for rape.

  • Ska||

    Steve Smith hates dogs.

  • ||

    Look, Jimbo, if you're not voting TEAM RED, it means you're voting TEAM BLUE...even if you don't vote. See why you have to vote TEAM RED now?

  • ||

    Oh, just vote TEAM BE RULED and be done with it.

  • Gojira||

    Caveat: I actually believe you can effect some change through elections at the local level. Much lower turnout, and you can a lot of times sneak much crazier bastards into the ticket.

    But at the federal level? Forget about it.

  • Kochtopussy||

    Perfect. I'll just run for Community Chair and keep voting against fixing potholes, they'll be sure to love us then!

  • Gojira||

    I was more thinking along the lines of voting against new property taxes, but not fixing potholes is certainly a good start.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Crazy? Like Santorum? Or do you mean good crazy, like someone who wants to stop wars and thinks habeus corpus is cool?

  • Gojira||

    A little from column A, a little from column B.

  • CatoTheElder||

    WRT HR 347 in particular, Paul Broun (R-GA) also voted nay along with Ron Paul and Amash. I don't know his record otherwise, but it certainly indicates some liberty cred.

    Also, wouldn't you agree that Rand Paul has some liberty cred in the Senate?

  • ||

    So let's say 4 out of 535: which makes .75%. Hey, we're three quarters of the way to 1% now instead of one third! Yay!

  • ||

    We must find a way to reward good behavior and punish bad.

  • #||

    Flake has some too - though not as much as I'd like.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Broun is worse than Flake, I'd say.

    Mike Lee is meh.

  • NYer||

    I don't know, Lee voted against the Patriot Act Extensions and the NDAA, he also seems to vote with Rand Paul about as much of the time as Amash does with Ron Paul. I think we gotta give him more cred than Broun and Flake.

  • ||

    It's kind of disturbing that we see 0.37% as...positive?

    Well, it is trending our way.

  • ||

    Thanks to our hard work, the Federation won't be a communist dictatorship in 2200 after all!

  • Gojira||

    So if Amash and Paul vote against a spending bill, and one of the people who would have been a recipient of funding from said bill then kills themsevles out of despair, will they be charged with bias intimidation?

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    I believe that deserves an internetz.

  • Tony||

    Liberty? As long as you're not gay, I guess. Then it's up to the states to decide if you as a free adult can legally have sex with another consenting adult of the same sex. Look at what Paul said when the Supreme Court struck down the Texas sodomy law. It's apparently a judicial overreach to tell the states that they don't have the power to tell an adult with what other adults he can have consensual sex with in his own house.

  • ||

    Is it better when the feds have all that power or better when there are 50 competing options? Feds, for instance, have no power to punish you for murder. Murder is enforced at the state level. Yet somehow, our society does not crumble. Interesting.

  • ||

    Consider the case of medical marijuana and be careful your brain doesn't explode

  • Tony||

    In this case, it's better that the Feds stepped in. Just like it was better when they stepped in to put an end to Jim Crow laws. As a libertarian, I would think you'd want whatever outcome leads to people having more liberty.

  • Kochtopussy||

    And when they step in to take away liberty?

  • A Serious Man||

    I suppose that's a flaw with our Bill of Rights, but then again I don't pretend that it's perfect. But it is better to have 50 competing options than one leviathan that can crush liberty for everyone. Not that you'd care since you'd happily be a slave if the massa' just gave you free healthcare.

  • ||

    Can you articulate what power the feds should have in this case and not in others in such a way that doesn't descend into "I want that outcome now so just do it"?

  • ||

    The net outcome for liberty is less centralized power, generally. That's why libertarians prefer more power at the state level since the fed power assures you can always move to the next state.

    Fed power over drug use, for example, is inescapable.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I'm not utilitarian.

  • Redland Jack||

    One possible point of interest is that I think libertarians are pretty interested in process, as opposed to just focusing on outcomes.
    Outcomes are, ultimately, the important things, but if you ignore process and just look at outcomes, (I'd sumbit) you're more likely to end up 'rule by men' instead of 'rule of law'.

  • ||

    Ron Paul's social conservatism is pretty off-putting. When I share Gary Johnson with friends who like Paul, I'd say 2/3 switch to Johnson and acknowledge prefer the government being removed from personal decisions, too.

  • Apatheist ಠ_ರೃ||

    It's not as simple as that of course. Paul is better than Johnson on the drug war for example.

  • Kochtopussy||

    How?

  • A Serious Man||

    Paul comes from a very different generation, but he acknowledges that younger people have different values. We should be careful not to take a liberal approach in interpreting the Constitution even if it is intended to spread personal liberty. Otherwise we validate that living, breathing document nonsense that progressives use to justify everything the Federal government does.

  • Tony||

    I suppose that's easy to say when you're pretty much a part of the mainstream like most people here i.e. white, middle class, straight. There's not really any state that is going to shit on your freedom. Things are a little different if you're a gay guy in Texas and someone is telling you a piece of paper is more important than your freedom to have relations with whomever you want in the privacy of your own home.

  • Kochtopussy||

    Glad I don't live in Texas.

  • KPres||

    +1000

    You're still a jackass, though.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Paternity law.

  • Tony In Every Other Thread||

    "privacy of your own home."

    "Our" home, that is. It belongs to all of us when it's in the best interest of MY value system.

  • KPres||

    Tony becomes a great defender of human liberty when it's HIS liberty that's at stake.

  • #||

    isn't that true of most people? Freedom for me not thee

  • ||

    God damn you are racist. And sexist.

  • KPres||

    "We should be careful not to take a liberal approach in interpreting the Constitution even if it is intended to spread personal liberty. Otherwise we validate that living, breathing document nonsense that progressives use to justify everything the Federal government does."

    Uh, fuck that? Constitutions are just pieces of paper. They don't mean shit when they don't serve their purpose.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    If we don't respect it we can't get other people to respect it. And then you end up with people claiming that an forcing and individual to buy health insurance is self-obviously a constitutional use of the power to regulate commerce between the states.

  • Gojira||

    Bingo. If it impedes liberty, fuck it.

  • ||

    Republicans in this state are pretty fucked up with the amount of bullshit they try to pass.

    But I love that you're all for liberty when it's getting the government out of your bedroom.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    First there was Ron Paul. Then there is this Amash dude. That's two, count 'em, two, small-"l" libertarians in congress! Clearly, we must lock them together in a jar and let them reproduce like fruit flies.

  • ||

    Clearly, we must lock them together in a jar and let them reproduce like fruit flies.

    Hmm. If I remember my biology classes correctly, then we are doomed.

  • CatoTheElder||

    I surprised that nobody has noticed that Amash is an Arab name. How long will it be before his opponents says that he is siding with the terrorists?

    Oh, wait ... they already have!

    http://www.debbieschlussel.com.....errorists/

  • Kochtopussy||

    He hates Jews so much, he doesn't want to kill Arabs! What a bastard!

  • Cytotoxic||

    Is there any truth to any of that crap? Or is it all contextless distortion?

  • *name||

    toward the middle of the insane comments someone named patriot mary explains his votes

  • Cytotoxic||

    Thank you!

  • ||

    I read some stuff on Rep. Amash a few days ago. Seems a pretty bright fellow. Since Ron Paul will be leaving the House next year it will be nice to have someone still there who sees him as a role model.

  • smartass||

    In a decade or more, Amash believes "a majority or a large minority of the Republican Party will hold the same views."

    Yeah! And who am I to rain on this guy's dreams?

    To save weight and hence travel fuel, the tooth fairy will be leaving winning lotto tickets under your pillow instead of loose change. Tightly folded up of course, so don't miss it [the tooth fairy is not a large fairy you know].

    All within a decade. Or more.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Why can't it happen?

    I like Amash. All of his differences vs Ron Paul are in Amash's favor.

  • smartass||

    I like Amash too, from what I read here.

    But how many winning lotto tickets do you expect to find under your pillow?

  • Max||

    Hump hump hump hump hump

  • jt||

    for those interested in latest development of the hand to hand battle known as grassroot fighting against gop establishment and their last minute changes of election rules.. http://www.dailypaul.com/221418/im-the-camera-man

    it looks like this will be a battle down to the trenches.. and this is how it should be, if you want to push the envelope, not just sitting around waiting for a 3rd party to become available, by then political systems might not even matter, if bankruptcy plunges us into civil arrest, and just when we need liberty oriented ideas to be prevalent the most to reach a critical mass--they aren't there, because everybody was sitting around waiting for everybody else to do it. i'm glad we the ron paul people are at it.

  • jt||

    video
    http://www.dailypaul.com/22138.....t-stafford

    same incident from account of different grassroot participant

    http://www.dailypaul.com/22145.....ces-report

  • ||

    I hope law enforcement becomes privatized so I can do this: http://youtu.be/vkHVOKZUZTw

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement