I've got a new column up at The Daily Beast. It's about how libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is leading the bipartisan defense of civil liberties in the House of Representatives.
As reported here yesterday, Amash's attempt, co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), to limit the scope of domestic NSA surveillance of Americans came within a few votes of passing. At the same time, amendments spearheded by Tea Party Republicans Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Trey Radel (Fla.) limited intervention in Egypt and Syria.
Amash—singled out by name by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as a “wacko bird” after Sen. Rand Paul’s epic filibuster over the Obama administration’s drone policy—has emerged as the leader of a pack of unapologetically libertarian-leaning Republicans who vote their principles rather than their party. Like Rand Paul—who has worked with liberal Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and other Democrats on specific issues related to civil liberties—Amash shows that bipartisanship is not only possible but that it doesn’t have to be an exercise in mushy, centrist, logrolling compromise. For Amash, it’s not about splitting the difference between a turd sandwich and a giant douche, it’s about bringing votes to your side by standing up for core beliefs. No wonder GOP leaders have taken to calling Amash and others like him “assholes.”...
The bipartisan effort on civil liberties being led by Justin Amash is likely to win the longer struggle because it proceeds from deep-seated principle rather than lip-service politics. Years from now, when the fever over the threat of Islamo-fascism has broken and all the government’s abuses in the name of protecting Oklahomans from the imposition of Sharia and Floridians safe from exploding water parks have fully come to light, both Obama and Amash will have to look their kids in the eye and answer the question, “Daddy, what did you do during the War on Terror?”
One of them will be able to say without hesitation that he consistently stood up for transparency, the rule of law, and the idea that the government doesn’t have the right to watch you simply because it can. Who knows what Obama will say?