Justin Amash

Libertarian Party Presidential Candidates React to Rep. Justin Amash Entering the Race

Some welcome, one wonders what took him so long, and one thinks the Libertarians should "stop nominating [former Republican] pricks!"


Formerly Republican, then independent, and now Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash tonight announced a last-minute bid for the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party (L.P.). That it took him so long rubs fellow candidate Jo Jorgensen, the L.P.'s 1996 vice presidential nominee, the wrong way. "I think it's unfortunate he didn't join the L.P. the day he renounced his Republican Party membership," she says in a phone interview tonight, "because we could have had a Libertarian in Congress, the first one ever, presenting the Libertarian message."

That he did not pledge fealty to the Libertarians publicly earlier, Jorgensen thinks, shows a politician perhaps more interested in gaining from Libertarians' ballot access capacity and less about helping the party grow—someone more into the party for what's in it for him and not the cause per se.

Jorgensen notes she's been an L.P. stalwart since 1979 and has done some of the hard petitioning it takes to get the ballot access Amash wants to glom onto. Her years of work trying to sell the Libertarian message to a wide variety of audiences, she thinks, guarantees a candidate more able to communicate all the reasons to support a Libertarian than a newcomer to the party such as Amash will manage.

Jorgensen is proud that her 1996 campaign, with Harry Browne as presidential candidate, saw an over 60 percent rise in dues-paying L.P. members over the year they ran, a rise that continued for years afterward. She thinks running more steadfast L.P. people like herself and Browne does more for the very important cause of sustained growth in membership than the brief flurry of attention that running former Republicans are more likely to get, no matter their vote totals.

That is, a more well-known candidate like Amash may get higher (though still losing) vote totals without leaving the Libertarian Party in a better position down the road. Regardless, Jorgensen says that, like always, she would vote for whoever the Libertarian Party's delegates choose to nominate.

Another former L.P. vice presidential candidate, former Judge James Gray (who ran with Gary Johnson on the 2012 ticket), said in a phone interview tonight that Amash had the courtesy to inform him "a week ago Saturday" in a "most cordial" call that he was planning to dip his toes in the water. "I told him we Libertarians believe in competition and I welcome you into this race."

Gray believes "we will be able to get issues out more to the public" with a sitting member of Congress in the race, and that Gray will have no problem "supporting the eventual nominee" whoever it ends up being.

Gray himself entered the race a mere two weeks ago after former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee dropped out. Gray saw a "stature" gap in the field and jumped in. He grants that Amash is also a candidate of stature, but Gray says he is nonetheless committed to continuing to run until a nominee is selected. He also plugged his own vice presidential pick, Larry Sharpe, as the best veep any L.P. candidate could have.

Jacob Hornberger, longtime libertarian educator with his Future of Freedom Foundation, says in an email tonight that "Congressman Amash's entry into the race for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination provides a big benefit to the LP. It not only brings an air of excitement to the race, it also focuses the attention of the national media on the LP presidential debates that are still left before the national nominating convention in May. Moreover, whoever wins the LP presidential nomination will now be assured of national media attention."

Adam Kokesh, a "voluntaryist" candidate who wants to dissolve the federal government, was not reachable for comment as of posting time, but he did speak to the Amash question in a campaign email last May.

He praised Amash, noting that the congressman "is screwed for having integrity within a party [Republicans, at that time] that amplifies lies on a daily basis" and said that "Now here's the question for us Libertarians…do we welcome Justin Amash and recruit him to seek our nomination? Without hesitation, I say, 'Hell yes!!!'"

As Kokesh explained, "I can say with complete confidence that bringing Justin Amash into the fold would be great for the party," granting that "Amash is aligned with our shared principles. He is the most Libertarian member of Congress. Trained in Austrian Economics, his voting record supports his integrity on our issues."

Despite those positives for Amash, it's not that Kokesh, who wants the nod himself, thinks the L.P.'s delegates should give Amash the prize. The reason Kokesh said he welcomed Amash last May was that "if he throws his hat in the ring, the media attention brought to the LP will be MASSIVE" and it would be delicious, too, in an imagined future convention:

As the cameras roll, and the Trump-hating journalists wait with bated breath for our state chairs to count the ballots…they will be forced to announce the 2020 LP Presidential Candidate. And with hard work and your support, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington PostNew York Times and others will run with the headline, "Libertarians Refuse to be Pawns, Nominate Adam Kokesh as Presidential Nominee."

(The selection process for the presidential nomination may not happen where cameras can roll, as a physical convention may be ruined by COVID-19, but Kokesh could not have guessed this last May. The party will be deciding exactly how they will choose their candidate at a May 2 virtual meeting of the Libertarian National Committee.)

Another candidate unreachable for comment by posting time condemned the idea of an Amash candidacy at an internet-enabled presidential candidate debate hosted by the Kentucky L.P. last week. Mark Whitney, founder of TheLaw.net and a comedian, griped that "if this asshole Justin Amash comes over, if he's the nominee I will not support him."

Whitney insists that the "Party of Principles should stop nominating criminals from [a] criminal organization" like the GOP who "come over last minute" to take advantage of the L.P.'s money and activists and then leave it in the lurch—"stop nominating these [former Republican] pricks!"

Vermin Supreme, a candidate trying to walk a fine line between comedic performance artist and actual politician, sent two written comments via a campaign spokesperson this evening.

The comedic reaction to Justin Amash entering the race: "The Amish are a very valued community in the America I love. Their commitment to community reliance and barn building is inspiring. The Amish prove that a pony based economy is possible. They live it. I would welcome any Amish person to join the ranks of the Libertarian Party."

But seriously folks…the followup from Vermin Supreme: "In all sincerity, Justin Amash has demonstrated principle throughout his Congressional career and I admire and respect that. He would be a great asset and partner in the House to help whomever the Libertarian Party nominates for President as an advocate for the necessary changes in order to advance freedom in the United States, from exercising the sole dominion over their own body to the freedom of movement across borders for people and capital."

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  1. Looks like most libertarians are happy Amash has entered the race. That’s wonderful.

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  2. I’ll be curious to see who Reason supports for the Libertarian party presidential nominee. I bet it’s an ex-Republican.

    1. But that’s odd. I would think that because of immigration, Reason would be more interested in ex-Democrats for the Libertarian nominee?

      Hmm, now I wonder, if the Libertarian party keeps nominating libertarian leaning (allegedly) Republicans instead of libertarian leaning Democrats, what sort of effect that will have in a two party system?

      Probably a wash, but it’s a thought I find interesting.

      1. Are there any libertarian leaning Democrats?

        1. I’d say Bernie Sanders has done as much as anybody to help the cause of libertarianism, but he’s not actually a Democrat. Maybe AOC?

          1. I feel like what they have done to help libertarianism is to show how terrible not-libertarianism is

          2. I’d say Bernie Sanders has done as much as anybody to help the cause of libertarianism, but he’s not actually a Democrat.

            Maybe Sanders and AOC have helped libertarianism by revealing what Democrats really beleive, but this framing suggests you think they are libertarian leaning. How are people whose primary political tenet is government control of both economics and social relationships in any way libertarian?

            1. They like weed and say mean things about the police, that’s apparently “libertarian” in a lot of people’s eyes.

        2. libertarian-leaning Democrats?
          Jared Polis is perhaps the closest…

          Daniel Patrick Moynihan back in the day?

          1. Too bad Daniel Patrick Moynihan died too soon. We could’ve used him for a lot longer.

      2. I wonder, if the Libertarian party keeps nominating libertarian leaning (allegedly) Republicans instead of libertarian leaning Democrats,

        There is no choice between these since there are no libertarian leaning Democrats.

  3. “stop nominating [former Republican] pricks!”

    Yep. What’s wrong with former Democrat pricks? Bill Weld I’m looking at you.

    I think OBL will back me up on this one.

    1. What is a leppo?

    2. Bill Weld was never a Democrat. He’s always been a Republican.

  4. why leppo is important?

    1. Cuz it’s where I met your mother.

    2. “why leppo is important?”

      It’s important for a candidate to look like he knows something. Gary Johnson ought to have said that (at the time) Aleppo had already fallen to USG armed, head-chopping jihadists who imposed Sharia law on the city.

      Aleppo shouldn’t have been a concern to US, but it was made so by ‘our’ foreign policy establishment. That’s why Aleppo is important.

      1. Plus they grow delicious peppers.

  5. And to think I had no plans to vote this up coming election. Amash for Liberation 2020!

    1. Same. I was depressed about Trump and Biden, but now there’s might be someone to vote for.

      1. Pat Paulson? Harold Stassen?

        1. Hmm, you maybe could get me to vote for Pat Paulson. Have to think about that.

          1. What happened to Dave Barry’s campaign?

  6. Nothing says Libertarian like quietly ignoring the removal of 4th amendment protections (Stone) and an abusive IC simply because those are bad people.

    This is actually a huge step backward for the LP. It is no longer a pursuit of a functional LP, like implied by Jorgensen, but merely a vanity pursuit of the LP. Small steps towards liberty no longer matter, it is all about vanity and show votes. This will hurt the actual LP in the long run as they can run from providing workable ideas and go back to blind idealism that will go nowhere no matter what ideal it actually is.

    1. I have voted as a Libertarian since 1974. We pretty much never win and that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
      Just go to a gathering of Libertarians and you will see diversity of thought the same as you would see in a group of Republicans or Democrats. Purity of position is impossible.
      Amash is probably about 90% libertarian, making him double any Republican or Democrat candidate and he has name recognition nationally as a principled Congressman. We could do, and have done, far worse. He will get access to media that only a funny nut-job candidate could, without the embarrassment to the Party. The best we can ever hope for in the whole is a sympathetic airing of libertarian positions. He can get us that.
      And he is Orthodox Christian like me.

      1. And he is Orthodox Christian like me.


    2. The LP has done nothing. Amash has, candidates have, but the LP itself has done nothing.

      1. I was a lifelong member until I gave up in disgust. I might go back, but it depends on them changing their ways first. The need to get serious about electing libertarian candidates to local and state positions. This pattern falling asleep for three years then scrambling on the fourth to get a president elected has to stop.

        The ballot access people are doing awesome work, but it will be for naught if the party can’t get a farm team up and running.

        1. In most states, there are few obstacles to getting nominated by the state’s LP for some office if a libertarian is willing to work. Brandybuck might pick an office for which to request the LP’s nomination and become part of the “farm team”.

        2. I’m with you, Brandybuck.

          I don’t understand the whole “Amash is now a (L) and could be the first member in Congress to be a libertarian!” bullshit. IMO, the first true member of Congress who ran and won as an (L) was Dick Randolph in Alaska in 1978. Sure, that was a state Congress win, not nationally, but Randolph actually pursued true libertarianism and was probably the most influential state politician that led to repealing the state income tax.

          Alaska has a LP branch, but they have woefully done little to help local and state libertarian candidates the last few years. Alaska used to have Ls as mayors, Congress, and even some in the Senate. I used to donate and volunteer for the Alaska LP but I, too, left with disgust.

          I agree that the LP should focus on local and state elections first. Get some great Ls win throughout the nation and then let them get state name recognition to win federal Congress/Senate. Get some established people first. Worry about the presidential in the future.

          1. So a long, slow, march through the institutions then?

            1. Do you think Amash would have the name recognition without his long, slow, march through the institution?

              My point is that most Americans are tribalistic and only vote for someone who has the R or D after their name or for someone they hear about in the media, like Amash. The LP needs to break that viscous cycle, and I think it needs to be done at a local/state level first. I’ve been voting for the LP presidential nominees for a long time, and so far nothing has changed. Get local/state people used to seeing an awesome candidate with an L after their name. Then hopefully people’s tribalistic with start looking for national L candidates. The candidates themselves don’t have to go through a long, slow, march through the institution once the voters are used to seeing Ls on the ballot. Does this make sense?

      2. I still haven’t recovered from Bill Weld.

    3. I agree with you .from day ONE I voted Libertarian to “grow”
      the ideas of the party knowing full well my vote was “a waist”
      and you think NOW i will change my mind ?
      I will Quit the LB if Amash is the LB candidate .

  7. You know what they say, as goes Mark Whitney, so goes the nation?

    (Who the fuck is Mark Whitney?)

    1. He was that guy stranded on Mars. To bad he’s still stranded there.

  8. What are Amash’s views on the Federal Reserve?

    Getting rid of it should be regarded as a core issue for the Libertarian party. As far as I am concerned, there is no reason to vote at all if there is no candidate who would make it an issue.

    1. Probably because you havent actually “LeArNeD BaSiC eCoNoMiCs” yet

  9. Why waste your vote on a Kochtopus Libertarian who can’t win when you can vote for an orange anti-trade debt-loving big-government Keynesian Republican who can?

    1. Okay, your orange haired fantasy candidate has me intrigued. Where does he stand on immigration?

  10. Funny how so many people object to immigrants even to the LP, as if there were enough natural born LP candidates to go around. How can the LP grow if not through immigration?

    1. Thread winner.

      1. Wait a sec — what makes you think I wasn’t serious?!?

        Damn punk kids and their new-fangled sense of humor.

    2. Jokes on you, most immigrants don’t support small government ideas, FACT. Especially ones that come from south of the border that is where open border libertarians go into fantasy world, thinking that if their nice to illegal immigrants they’ll become good libertarians. Not gonna happen, never gonna happen, the statistics don’t bear it out.

  11. I looked on the twitters, and the number of twits wailing about Amash taking votes from Biden and getting Trump elected is shocking. In what world does a four term Republican congressman who opposes most federal spending, voraciously supports individualism, and favors a strict adherence to an originalist interpretation of the constitution “take” more votes from the Dem candidate?

    Not that I care who he “takes” votes from, but the collectivist mindset is crazy pervasive.

    1. I can see Amash grabbing votes from Biden. But even if he did, those votes don’t belong to Biden. No one owns the votes except the individual voters casting them. Period. All this talk about stealing votes is bullshit.

      Does it mean that some people who might reluctantly vote for Biden switch to Amash? Of course! but that is not vote stealing.

      Hillary lost because she thought she deserved her votes, and didn’t bother persuading people to vote for her. The ultimate entitlement politician. If Biden thinks he deserves my vote then the least he can do is pretend to try to earn it. Sending his minions out to cry about it is just pathetic.

      1. Which Biden votes would he grab? Some imaginary group of conservative leaning Constitutionalists who hate Trump so much they’d vote big-government/almost-Sanders against their principles, but will now take the bait and follow the LP call back to their Constitutional roots? There could be one or two, but you have your filters set pretty tight there. Either that or you are one of those who buys into ‘the sky is falling’ mindset of the collective mentioned by Farnham.

  12. one thinks the Libertarians should “stop nominating [former Republican] pricks!”

    Most libertarians are more concerned with virtue signalling their purity than achieving influence in politics.

  13. It’s one thing to point at Barr to joining the race. Barr was never a libertarian. At best he was free market friendly. Johnson was a damned good candidate, flawed by a single sentence in a highly contentious issue. Fauxtarians who denounce him yet claim Trump is their leader are wankers of the worst sort.

    Amash, however, is libertarian through and through. Yes he used to be a Republican, but one does not become a congressmen in this era via a third party. It does not happen. But he still voted libertarian on every issue.

    One does not get elected to national office before first coming from state and local offices. And the LP sucks at getting organized at the state and local level. The highest ranking LP officeholders have invariably been party switching. Winning as an Libertarian barely manages to get anyone to the level of county supervisor, let alone a state wide office.

    Whitman needs to be blowing his smoke up his own ass. Amash is a great Libertarian candidate who can get the message out. And that’s what this is, getting the message out. Because no one third party is going to win the presidency this decade. But with this campaign, and if he can hold onto his seat as LP, will do more to move the party forward than anyone has in decades.

    1. the LP sucks at getting organized.

      Unorganized is the primary definition of libertarian.

      1. That’s because the LP sucks at defining a platform and happy to rubber stamp any clown who is willing to wear the label, even if it’s just to justify his own bad behavior… ‘I’m a libertarian so I reject any and all rules of society’. Standouts in my section of the country are US Senate candidates who deliver pizza and a fired/unemployed postal worker.

  14. Two things:
    1. JoJo is right about Amash’s opportunism here.
    2. Does anyone actually know who the fuck is Jo Jorgensen is?

  15. like always, she would vote for whoever the Libertarian Party’s delegates choose to nominate

    Such partisanship!
    Go Team Go! Fight Team Fight!

  16. I was a registered libertarian for over 10 years and still vote libertarian. I changed my registration to independent when Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, came out in favor of the USA disrupting the sovereignty of Venezuelans to choose their own president. Non-interventionism is a key principle of being libertarian. The purest libertarian in the race is Hornberger and he has been preaching the word for a long time. Give him a chance libertarians and get rid of Sarwark.

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