Free Minds & Free Markets

Congress After Ron Paul

Meet the men seeking to fill Dr. No’s shoes

For decades, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) served as the libertarian conscience of Congress. After 12 terms stretching across four decades and three runs for president, Paul chose to retire in January. Now a handful of Republican congressmen are stepping into the breach. Endorsed by Dr. No himself and the Paul-inspired Young Americans for Liberty, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Ted Yoho, and Kerry Bentivolio are headed to Washington (or back, in the case of second-termer Amash), where they say they’ll defend personal freedom and fiscal responsibility. reason interviewed them in December about their governing philosophies, the state of Congress, and whether they seek to be national leaders for a post-Paul liberty movement.

Justin Amash: Bringing the liberty perspective to light.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) enters his second term in Congress as the favorite surviving congressman of the “liberty movement” that arose around Ron Paul. Amash, 32, came to Washington in 2011 after a single term in the Michigan state legislature, where he brought a unique perspective informed by Frederic Bastiat and F.A. Hayek and became known as probably the first American legislator to explain all his votes on Facebook. In December, the second-generation American of Palestinian descent made headlines when the House Republican leadership booted him from his seat on the Budget Committee. Amash and his fans say he was rebuked for being more fiscally conservative than his colleagues, refusing to vote for bills he thought would bust the budget even if that meant defying GOP marching orders. Other congressmen anonymously told the press that it was because Amash and three other demoted colleagues were uncollegial “assholes.”

reason: So, are you an asshole?

Rep. Justin Amash: I’ve never been aggressive toward colleagues in any way, never been rude to anyone here. But I do explain my votes. And if that differs from the direction leadership wants us to go in, they take offense. Leadership doesn’t want someone out there explaining that a particular deal increases debt by $100 billion.

I think leadership has reverted to a smear campaign, calling us “assholes” for the purpose of misleading the media into thinking there is some overwhelming resentment toward us, when it’s not true. The resentment is toward leadership. I’ve heard from dozens of colleagues who are behind us 100 percent, and not just conservatives or libertarians. I was back home this weekend and I’ve never seen so much support for what I’m doing and so much anger directed toward [Republican House Speaker John] Boehner, not just for what he’s doing to me but for his leadership.

I’m a pretty mild-mannered person. I’ve been a mild-mannered congressman and state legislator. I don’t go out and make a lot of noise. When I was a state legislator, I could go and explain my votes on Facebook and leadership would give me leeway to do so without coming after me. Now they have made it clear a different paradigm exists here. I have to evolve the way I operate as well. I think it’s important for me to be more vocal about the issues and be more clear about problems going on in Congress and not really take a back seat like I’ve been taking up to now.

reason: What is so important about those committee assignments?

Amash: When we are working on budget deals it’s important to have liberty-minded people who can press leadership and press the chairman from a more pro-liberty perspective. That’s certainly happened in the last year on the budget committee. A number of us pressed [Rep. Paul] Ryan on the budget and it ended up better than it would have been. On things like military spending, for example, it’s important to have people on the Budget Committee willing to talk to Democrats and negotiate on that issue because the message we get from leadership is that that’s off the table.

reason: Do you see any hope for changing that attitude on military spending in the Republican Party?

Amash: New members have a different take on it than the more senior members. We can’t count on all the new members to be open to compromise on military spending, but there is a much higher percentage among [last term’s] freshmen and the incoming class as well.

We are just a reflection on what’s going on back home, which is that voters are telling us we need to be more cautious about our foreign engagements, that we should be using our armed forces for defense and not to impose our will on the rest of the world, that we are putting ourselves at risk continuing the strategy we are engaged in. We hear a lot from military families telling us please bring our troops home, we are putting lives at risk without getting the results we’ve been promised and with no clear goals.

reason: Were you worried your redistricting might prevent you from getting back to Congress?

Amash: I was never concerned about losing. I knew redistricting would make my district a little more challenging in terms of logistics. It’s a larger district now and I’m traveling to areas I hadn’t spent lots of time in before. The biggest challenge was I had an opponent [Steve Pestka] who was self-funding and outspent me about two to one by the end of the race. But we still won with a healthy margin. I outperformed both Mitt Romney and [Republican Senate candidate] Pete Hoekstra in my district.

I’m completely transparent which is extremely helpful; everyone knows exactly why I vote the way I do. I think it’s more important that my philosophy is just common sense. When I go back home people don’t find my views extreme, they find the views of Congress in general extreme. That’s why Congress has a 10 percent approval rating; so many members of Congress are completely detached from the real world. People find it extreme not to balance the budget for 30 years, not to include military spending as part of negotiations. They don’t find it extreme to want to balance the budget in the near future or to want to work with Democrats on things like military spending. If my colleagues realized that common-sense approach works back home, more would take it. They are caught up in this whole D.C. universe where they are basically catering to lobbyists and not their constituency.

reason: Do you see yourself in a national liberty-movement leadership role?

Amash: I do view my role as important in bringing the liberty perspective to light. I am chairman of the House Liberty Caucus and we are trying to use that as a tool for getting some of these ideas out to our colleagues and constituents across the country. 

My constituents are all very concerned about their liberty, so I don’t see the roles [of being a national leader and a local representative] as incompatible. It’s the same role. I was elected to Congress to follow the Constitution and defend my constituents’ economic freedom and individual liberty.

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  • A Frayed Knot||

    Next up, Brian Doherty After Ron Paul.

  • Mike M.||

    Ted Yoho would be a great name for a pirate.

  • CE||

    I'm takin' shore leave, with my buddy, some booze, and a girl we met in port. It'll just be me, Yo Ho, Ho, and a bottle of rum.

  • The Derider||

    Just like Ron Paul and his son Rand, none of these men believe that personal freedom includes a woman's right to get an abortion. And just like Ron Paul and his son rand, all these men get no critical questioning on the issue from Reason.

  • iggy||

    If you believe abortion is murder, then that trumps a woman's right to choose. I don't necessarily agree with them, but there is nothing unlibertarian about being against abortion.

    So why should Reason care?

  • The Derider||

    Apparently Reason shouldn't care when someone's religious faith causes them to pass laws which force women to bear children they do not want.

    Of course there's something unlibertarian about the state criminalizing abortion.

  • MSD62581||

    Laws against abortion really don't "force" women to do this. Crimes aren't crimes until after they have been committed. It is really not correct to identify the pro-choice movement with libertarianism considering the big government that is wrapped up in the pro-choice lobby. We are funding Planned Parenthood to the tune of half a billion dollars a year. There's nothing libertarian about that.

  • The Derider||

    Hahaha, yeah, the threat of state violence does not "force" anyone to do anything! Feel free not to pay your taxes, because that's not illegal until you do it.

    I like the honesty in the second answer, though. Libertarians can't oppose abortion restrictions because democrats do, too. Team red 4 life!

  • MSD62581||

    Actually it doesn't use force. No one is advocating for state violence to force a woman to give birth. Again, crimes aren't crimes until after they happen.

  • The Derider||

    So the state doesn't use force to make you pay income taxes because tax evasion isn't a crime until after it happens?

    The state doesn't use force to prohibit drugs because drug sales are only crimes after they occur?

    This argument is terrible.

  • MSD62581||

    The state can't infringe on your liberties in order to prevent some future crime from happening. Also, tax evasion is not a violent crime that is committed against an individual. Your analogy does not hold up.

  • MSD62581||

    Your assessment that I think that libertarians shouldn't oppose abortion restrictions because of Democrats do the same thing is misguided and incorrect. My objection to this is because the issuing of tax dollars to abortion clinics is fundamentally un-libertarian. It is forced government compassion that comes from the point of a gun. This of course, is not compassion at all. If opposing abortion is a symptom of being on "team red for life," then wouldn't support for abortion on demand be a symptom of a "team blue for life" mentality?

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    Some Libertarians believe that abortion violates the non-agression principle, and is inherently illegitimate. By "critical questioning" do you mean initiating dialogue or "calling them out" on it? I believe the latter to be a bit presumptuous.

  • The Derider||

    Of course you won't see either one.

  • MSD62581||

    Very true. Laurence Vance addressed it pretty well here.

  • The Derider||

    He says that his opposition to abortion is rooted in his faith and the bible. What a comforting reason to support state restrictions on personal liberty.

  • MSD62581||

    Once again, being pro-life is not desiring a state restriction on liberty. And I'm pretty sure people use the things they believe in to formulate their opinions all the time. It doesn't make it "dangerous" for religion to be among those reasons.

  • The Derider||

    Vance writes: libertarians should not only be opposed to abortion, but in favor of making it a criminal act just like murder, rape, kidnapping, theft, assault, and robbery would be in any libertarian society based on the non-aggression principle.

    He favors the state imprisoning abortion doctors and their patients. Why? Because Jesus said so. That's clearly the pro-liberty position.

  • MSD62581||

    Pretty sure he doesn't say anything about imprisoning patients. He concedes that he is not sure as to how abortion should be treated if it were to be made a crime. But he also says he is not exactly sure how each state should treat other crimes in which a victim is harmed. Ultimately this decision should be made at the state level. The Bible/Jesus also spoke of not murdering and stealing. Are laws against these things also illegitimate?

  • Renfred43||

    my best friend's mom makes $70/hour on the internet. She has been out of a job for 5 months but last month her income was $18311 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this web site http://www.FLY38.COM

  • CE||

    You know the IRS monitors this site, right?

  • CE||

    Dude, 18311 at 70 an hour is over 260 hours in a month. That's over 65 hours per week. Who wants to work for a slave driver?

  • ||


  • John C. Randolph||

    Boehner is probably the #2 example of the kind of asshole the Republican party needs to get rid of, if they ever want to be credible again. #1 is a tie between John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Willard was #1, but since he lost the election, he doesn't matter anymore.


  • Roderick||

    Liam. I can see what your saying... Frank`s remark is terrific, I just got a great Car from having earned $9986 this-past/four weeks and-over, 10-k this past munth. it's actualy the nicest-work Ive ever had. I actually started six months/ago and almost straight away began to earn over $87 per-hour. I went to this website,, http://www.FLY38.COM

  • Brand||

    Well now I'm just baffled, who the hell is Liam?

  • ||

    Amash: "I was elected to Congress to follow the Constitution"

    Ok, let's follow its seventh article and think logically about it until we understand a painful truth: Article VII is not law before "Establishment" of the Constitution of which it is part. So you are prohibited from using it to know that ratification is sufficient or that conventions may be involved in establishment. Furthermore, that article would be superfluous even if the Constitution were established. So there is no justification for having included Article VII in the text.


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