Politics

Will Justin Amash Run for President as a Libertarian in 2020?

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FreedomFest, a largely libertarian gathering in Las Vegas with a significant conservative presence, has been tacking in a noticeably Trumpian direction since the future president spoke there in 2015. So the latest iteration of the conference this July was an interesting backdrop to speculation that newly independent Michigan Rep. Justin Amash might seek to challenge a chief executive against whom he was the only Republican to back impeachment proceedings.

"I respect what Justin has done," said his best friend in Congress, Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.), while sitting on a FreedomFest panel with Amash and Sen. Mike Lee (R–Utah). "But what I say is, if you read the Republican platform, there's really nothing wrong with it, if you're for smaller government and for liberty and support the Constitution. The problem is, if you follow the Republican platform as a Republican when you get to D.C., you will be reviled for it."

Massie, a four-term libertarian-leaner, has experienced what it's like to be reviled by your own team. In early July, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Massie will likely face a primary challenge backed by national Republican leaders who are angry at his ideological obstinance.

"These two guys have really tried to reform [the GOP] from within," Amash said from the stage. "I think we're getting to a point where it's clear to all of us that this is an insurmountable challenge. And that's why I decided I needed to become an independent, and try to serve my community a different way, and try to set an example."

Conversations about whether Amash might seek the Libertarian Party presidential nomination have been roiling the movement all year. When he first came out for impeachment in late May, leading to yet another burst of speculation, several already-declared L.P. presidential candidates more or less agreed with anarchist activist Adam Kokesh that such a move would be "amazing." By mid-July, however, that field of comparative unknowns had grown visibly tired of the topic.

"I feel like I talk about Justin Amash more than I do about myself," candidate Kim Ruff groused at a Massachusetts state convention presidential debate that I moderated in mid-July. Neither Ruff (who won an informal post-debate straw poll) nor any of the other participating candidates—Kokesh, former party vice-chairman Arvin Vohra, New Hampshire state Rep. Max Abramson, and Dan "Taxation Is Theft" Behrman—said they would support Amash over their competitors should he decide to run.

"We cannot elect or nominate a former Republican…for the fourth cycle in a row. I just think that would set the party back so far," Kokesh said. "I would really, enthusiastically welcome Amash to the race, but I would be more thrilled to support and see anybody on this stage beating him."

The existing Libertarian contenders may grumble about party leadership openly rooting for Amash to take the plunge, but L.P. National Chair Nicholas Sarwark is unapologetic. "We have the best opportunity to pick the best nominee if there's good competition in the game," Sarwark told me at FreedomFest. "I don't have a favorite, but I'm going to be welcoming to new people."

Amash has until May 21, 2020—when the L.P. national convention kicks off—to make up his mind. What will drive the decision? By "thinking about where I can use my skills and influence best," Amash told Reason's Nick Gillespie. "And I feel like if I can be most effective on the national stage spreading the message of liberty and the message of respect and love, then that's what I do."

In many respects, the choice looks grim. In one best-case scenario, Amash survives a three-way race for re-election to the U.S. House despite Michigan's straight-ticket ballot device (which allows someone to vote for an entire political-party slate by checking a single box) and despite the two major parties dumping millions into a winnable seat. A second optimistic outcome would be for him to labor mightily, in much more adverse circumstances, to top Gary Johnson's record-shattering 2016 result of just 3.27 percent of the presidential vote.

Five years ago, libertarians were clucking about their resurging fortunes in American politics. Now, one of the last federally elected officials to unapologetically fly that flag finds himself alone and potentially endangered.

NEXT: Brickbat: The Last Stop

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    3. amash is a POS criminal and Reason is pathetic and despicable for covering him non-stop

  1. I’ll just go ahead and state the obvious, ok? Why would we vote for a Libertarian in 2020 when we have such a great libertarian in the current POTUS? Duh, Justin Amash, Dear Leader is the most freedom loving guy in the world. I mean, just look at how he exposed himself to underage girls at Epstein’s rave parties in the 90s. If that isn’t freedom loving then I don’t want to love freedom.

    1. You’re bad at this.

    2. If I were Justin Amish, I would run as an independent in the general election. Running as a libertarian is a liability and he would be sure to get more votes without an L after his name. What does he have to lose?

      1. What does he have to lose?

        Ballot access to 30+ states.

      2. The LPs ballot status is valuable to an independent who doesn’t have the money and troops to petition and jump through hoops.

      3. He should pick Weld as his VP … there’s a winning ticket!

      4. I can see Mike the Mover getting more votes.

  2. I still don’t know that Amash has actually supported impeachment, he just said that the Mueller report had enough information in it to support an obstruction charge and an impeachment. (Which I’m sure it did since, technically speaking, a Betty Crocker cookbook contains enough information to impeach the president when “high crimes and misdemeanors” seems to be whatever Congress decides it is.) But has Amash actually said he thought impeachment was a good idea and he’d vote for it?

    1. I’d think if he didnt support it he would be talking more about the abuse of the intelligence community more so than how mean orange man is.

      1. Why assume he holds a partisan position with respect to “abuse of the intelligence community?”

      2. How convenient. Every time Trump fucks up, it’s really the intelligence community working to undermine him.

        1. Every time Trump fucks up

          Lol. He beat Her on accident.

          1. I give more credence to this theory than your dismissal implies. I mean, put together an uninformed electorate and an outdated electoral college system that enfranchised the votes of shitkicker morons in Wyoming and, voila, you’ve got a serial deadbeat and teenage-girl raping NY lib representing family values’ conservatives. Vhat a country!

            1. I mean, put together an uninformed electorate and an outdated electoral college system that enfranchised the votes of shitkicker morons in Wyoming and, voila, you’ve got a serial deadbeat and teenage-girl raping NY lib representing family values’ conservatives.

              Right. Do all of that *and* beat the candidate who’s been preparing for the role all her life… on accident.

            2. Nobody does uninformed quite like a Leftist attempting to analyze, or parody, that which it completely fails to comprehend

            3. Trump is a lot of things & some of them really horrible, but from all the info about Eppie & the kiddies, there is not iota of evidence that Trump raped anyone, much less underage girls! If anything it sounds like he broke it off when he found out what Eppie was about!

              Now, HornDawg Bill on the other hand was the Lolita Express 26 times & had a plethora of women accuse him of rape when he was just a Gov., but people still love him!!!

              1. Only one woman accused Bill Clinton of rape, and she had given an affidavit exculpating him.

    2. I also talk frequently about pursuing things I have no intention of pursuing

      1. Poor Mrs. Ryan

  3. What will drive the decision?

    That’s what I’d like to know. With major party candidates, the motivation is clear: power and the money that comes from it. I’d like to know the true motivations of candidates who can neither win or derive a government appointment from the effort.

    1. “I’d like to know the true motivations of candidates who can neither win or derive a government appointment from the effort.”

      power and the money that comes from it.

    2. Hes a nobody now. Like most idealists he beliefs his motives pure. He wants to be thought of as the only honest politician. His pride is the motivation.

      1. Amash could easily get a job in the media.

      2. And his ego. And his desire to spite Trump for inadvertently squeezing his family’s Chinese business

    3. I’d say trying to steer the debate on certain issues but this election the debate will pretty much only consist of Orange Man Bad vs Trump is the Greatest, so it really won’t matter. He’d be better off running in 2024 if so inclined.

    4. spread the gospel, achieve minor celebrity status to boost your social media accounts, not sure what after that.

    5. “I’d like to know the true motivations of candidates who can neither win or derive a government appointment”

      Money. Lovely, lovely money. Lots of donations from never-Trumpers like Cap’n Bill Kristol, and access to DNC slush funds at Media Matters.
      Also, he may get one of those promised anti-Trump BJ’s from Madonna. I heard she takes out her dentures for them.

  4. Of course he will. He’s back to being nobody if he doesn’t. The only determining factor will be sufficient never Trump dollars.

    1. And if nothing else Amash desperately wants to be somebody.

      1. His motivation might be dislike for authoritarian, poorly educated, obsolete bigots.

        1. Weird he supports using the IC to go after people if he is anti authoritarian.

          1. It may be weirder to advance an unqualified, unsupported declaration of his support in that context.

        2. Leave Biden out of this.

        3. Arty, it’s funny to see a weak, vacuous subnormal, such as yourself try and act superior. You truly are an annelid among men.

  5. Well, what is his alternative – to get an actual job?

  6. And the paper that views Massie as a thorn in it’s side says he’s going to be primaried. And Reason just prints it.

    Why?

    Because Massie doesn’t shit in the faces of the people who elected him.

    And who cares if Turncoat Amash is gonna be the LP’s GOP also-ran? Weld wasn’t bad enough, huh?

    1. Massie is the kind of “libertarian” who declares ‘there is nothing wrong with the Republican Party platform.’

      Intolerant, backward, right-wing partisans from backwater states are among my favorite faux libertarians.

      1. Rev. Art, putting the “elite” in coastal elite since 2017.

    2. Turncoat? Jfc. You really are just a GOP useful idiot, aren’t you.

  7. He will call himself a libertarian, but his support of using IC powers to take down political opponents keeps him from actually being one.

    1. Does this mean he won’t be endorsed by Libertarians For Tariffs?

      or Libertarians For Authoritarian Immigration Practices?

      or Libertarians For Statist Womb Management?

      or Libertarians For Bigoted Immigration Policies?

      or Libertarians For Government Gay-Bashing?

      or Libertarians For More Military Spending?

      or Libertarians For White Supremacy?

      Carry on, clingers. While you await replacement.

      1. Fuck off bladders.

      2. Hi, gecko!

      3. Yes. No. No. Yes. No. No. No.

  8. Please. He’d be way better than Gary Johnson. Who I held my nose and voted for last time.

  9. “”We cannot elect or nominate a former Republican…for the fourth cycle in a row. I just think that would set the party back so far,” Kokesh said”

    Well…you really don’t have too much further back to go..

    I respect Amash. Stands on solid libertarian principles and is willing to actually follow the constitution. He’d be a solid choice.

  10. Will it matter if he did?

  11. If he gets the Libertarian nod, I won’t be voting Libertarian in 2020. I don’t know why you guys insist he’s some sort of rock star.

    1. He named 2 post offices in 2 years. This guy is awesome.

    2. You are not gonna vote LP no matter what, so thanks for your virtue signaling.

  12. I don’t much care who runs on the Libertarian ticket, or what that person’s,platform might be. I will not vote for a this party candidate until that third party has established some kind of presence in Congress. I don’t insist on a majority, but it should be a large enough minority to have leverage.

    A President with no allies in Congress is as useless as the teats on a boar.

    1. Not true at all. A President with no Congressional support could simply veto everything, bring government to a standstill, and make sure that any new laws passed have widespread bipartisan public support (to overturn his vetoes).

      Look up the late Harry Browne’s great essay “The President’s First Day in Office”.

      1. You may have a slight point, but until the Republican candidate is close to as repulsive as the Democrat candidate, I will be voting for the Republican.

        The contest between Trump and Granny Maojackets von Pantsuit wasn’t remotely close. 2020 ain’t looking close either.

        1. Whether you are trying to kid yourself or everyone else is irrelevant: You’ll be voting for Republicans so long as that party appeases bigots and embraces backwardness.

      2. This^. It was the most appealing attribute of Gary Johnson – a proven willingness to veto and force the opposition to either become bipartisan in favor of big or keep spending small.

    2. A President with virtually no allies in congress would get almost nothing accomplished. Seems like the best we can hope for at this point.

  13. It is irrelevant who is the LP candidate. I will not vote for Drumpf and I will not vote for any Democrat Socialist party stooge. Anyone who chooses one of the two major party candidates is betraying their libertarian principles.

    1. Trump is likely far more “libertarian” than a socialist democrat. So, I think you’re wrong. Trump is a real mixed bag …. but he lowered the corporate income tax and that has been very, very good for all Americans. Ditto for getting us out of the obnoxious Paris Climate Agreement. Ditto for reducing regulations on Americans.

      However, he’s spending just like a nutty democrat and that’s very bad. I’m going to wait until the dems nominate that wonderful “capitalist” Lizzy Warrn before I make up my mind about whom to vote for …. but I gotta’ tell you …. I WAS NOT impressed by the Johnson / Weld ticket’s ability to verbalize libertarian principles to the electorate.

  14. Until Sarwark leaves, no way will I vote libertarian. If the LP doesn’t prioritize the NAP and defense of private property first and foremost, it has become libertarian in name only.

  15. I would prefer Amash run for his current seat (as an indie or L but with obvious strong libertarian cred) – with a really strong L Prez candidate who can get far better national attention/media than Amash can. Course – L’s don’t have that candidate but the way they leverage up to the next level of support is to have strong bench candidates so that the national and local tickets can boost each other.

    So who might that media-savvy potential Libertarian candidate be? The current group running all seem to be – what’s the word – boring and can’t possibly appeal to anybody outside the ‘church’. I’m thinking someone who has executive ability (not necessarily political) who has the ability/energy to mobilize a bench of wonkish policy types, good lower-level candidates, and the sort of Hollywood/entertainment/youtube sorts who might call themselves small-l but who are clearly ready to break from DeRp.

    I do agree with Ruff that nominating yet another leaving-the-R’s pol creates a real problem. At a certain point, there ain’t no one left who will actually leave and still have any truly libertarian beliefs. They’ll just be milking the word.

    1. So who did you have in mind, who would be open to accepting the nomination?

      1. IDK – Initially I was thinking Jimmy Wales. Clearly/overtly a small-l and wikipedia is a practical application of Hayek’s ‘Use of Knowledge’. He knows how to crowdsource knowledge/people/attention and a practical application of libertarian ideas is a freaking ton better than yet more yakyak about it. But apparently he lives in London now and thinks the LP is a bunch of crazies. Maybe recruiting him is exactly the demo that LP isn’t that – and maybe he can also be the sort of candidate who sells libertarian ideas by learning more about them during the campaign. Plus – he may really have the desire to ‘change things’ more than some overweening desire/ego to win in 2020 and that is OK too if it builds the LP for the future.

        1. Even if Wales is not the sort of ‘stand up in front of people and talk’ type (and most people are really fearful of that) who would run – imo the sort of candidate LP needs is someone who would recruit a Wales type to build the campaign and outreach rather than a ‘preacher/believer’ type.

          1. And by campaign/outreach, I actually mean ‘transform govt’ if elected. Using crowdsourced knowledge/feedback/etc to change govt policy and open govt up to transparency and such – with NAP as the constraint. so it’s not about setting up a wiki

    2. Mark Cuban? Sort of a pro-business Democrat really, but maybe the best we can hope for with national appeal, someone who wouldn’t be intimidated by Trump.

      Elon Musk? Not sure he has the charisma, but he has the cash.

      1. Cuban is like seven douches at once. Never meet him.

  16. If there were any year to vote your conscience when otherwise you’d vote straight Republican, 2020 is it. Libertarianism won’t get anywhere without a show of strength. Show the country that they can get a respectable percentage of the vote. Enough even to take a president down.

    1. For once I agree with Tony. Even if one of the socialist seven or the geezers three wins, maybe it will shock people enough to oppose them effectively.

      1. Right. Vote for a socialist. That will teach my face it’s place.

  17. Yeah, it’s tough to move a major party in the right direction when you make up only one or two percent of it. But you know what’s a lot harder? Trying to get elected with a major party label on the ballot.

    Amash could have kept fighting the good fight, instead he bailed. Now he can watch the fight from the sidelines with the rest of us.

    1. without a major party label, I meant to type. still no edit?

  18. Hillary’s available. I’m sure a silent majority of Reason staff voted for her last time. She had Shikha’s endorsement.

  19. I generally like Amash’s policy positions. Should he run in 2020? Yes. And, when he loses, he can run in 2024, and lose, and then again in 2028. Should he win in 2028, he would still be among the younger presidents elected. If he isn’t, well, there is a chance, a chance, that after ten years of rocking the boat, an actual, legitimate, new party might evolve.

    Of course, had he decided to stay in the Republican Party, and decided to run against Trump, and Trump’s successor, he might actually have a better chance, over the same time period of time, of rebuilding the Republican Party and taking it back from the neo-cons and other parasitic infestations which seem to currently control it.

    On the other foot, if the Dems don’t “re-center” their politics which seem to be running counter to a sizeable percentage of their membership. they too, might join the dodos.

    1. Amash is a feckless bitch.
      Not exactly leadership material

      1. You are assuming I want a “leader” in the White House. I want the federal government to function as it was designed to do. I don’t need to be “led” anywhere.

        1. I knew this would be your response. Predictable virtue signaling comes so naturally to some types…

          “there is a chance, a chance, that after ten years of rocking the boat, an actual, legitimate, new party might evolve.
          Of course, had he decided to stay in the Republican Party, and decided to run against Trump, and Trump’s successor, he might actually have a better chance, over the same time period of time, of rebuilding the Republican Party and taking it back from the neo-cons and other parasitic infestations which seem to currently control it.”

          Sure, no leadership involved in “rebuilding the Republican Party and taking it back” or “rocking the boat” to spur the creation of “an actual, new, legitimate party”

          Your desires, claimed or revealed, had nothing to do with my comment.
          Again:
          Nardz
          September.16.2019 at 5:52 pm
          Amash is a feckless bitch.
          Not exactly leadership material

          1. I am sorry, Nardz, if you missed my point. Let me explain:
            “Leadership” by the last three presidents has gotten us 18 years of continual war. The “Great Recession” was the result of “leadership” going clear back to Carter, and expanded greatly by Clinton (who holds primary responsibility). “Leadership” at the federal level got us the welfare State we are currently saddled with. “Leadership” got us a $22 billion federal debt. “Leadership” got us the Vietnam War. Is “leadership” always bad? Nope. But looking the last fifty years or so, I will opt for none. Hence I support a non-involved, smaller, federal government, One that, instead of “leading,” simply manages. There has been only one president in my adult lifetime who actually sought to shrink the size and influence of government. That’s a “batting average” of less than 100.

  20. It doesn’t matter what Amash chooses to do. He will almost assuredly fail to get elected to any important office as a Libertarian. What he cannot overcome is that those politicians who are the best liars, and who are the best at compromise, and who are willing to support legalized theft and coercion, are inevitably going to be elected. Any candidate who swears off coercion is going to lose because voters want stolen goods.
    The electorate still wants to use government to achieve ends that require government coercion. Libertarians cannot succeed in that arena.

  21. Justin’s true passion seems to be fixing the function of government. I support this. He should find the most effective platform from which to do this. Running on LP ticket is likely not the best idea. Libertarianism should remain a guiding principle, not try and be a political party. It kinda reminds me of the “Anarchist Club” from college.

  22. “Will Justin Amash Run for President as a Libertarian in 2020?”

    I doubt it. He doesn’t strike me as an idiot.

  23. I’m still hoping for John Macafee.

    Latest rumor is he is hiding out in Lithuania.

  24. wait what? Amash might run for presidezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  25. “Will Justin Amash Run for President as a Libertarian in 2020”

    Let’s hope not !
    The guy claimed that people with party labels (including Libertarian) did not represent all the people !
    His rationale for becoming an independent supposedly.

    he is more interested in politics than liberalism IMHO
    Let’s select a REAL one this time.

  26. If not Amash, then whom? And when a Libertarian for “whom” is tolled, would anyone that is not a Libertarian care? Seems to me he is the only choice.

  27. Justin Amash? Why not Bozo the clown?

    1. Bozo might have too much integrity

  28. Amash should bend wires into calming shapes and run into the pine forest so I can forget him.

  29. Who cares? Libertarians are statist.

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