Justin Amash

Should Justin Amash Run for President?

The Reason Roundtable podcast delivers a mixed verdict.


Since Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.) announced Wednesday that he has been "carefully consider[ing] a presidential run," presumably with the Libertarian Party, there have been three bits of interesting news:

1) An April 14-16 Morning Consult national poll of 1,992 registered voters, the first of its kind in seven months, had the libertarian congressman at just 1 percent, compared to Joe Biden's 46 and President Donald Trump's 42 (5 percent said "someone else" and 6 percent said they would not vote). Removing Amash's name from the options did not change the point-spread between the two leading candidates.

2) First-quarter fundraising numbers came in from Amash's 3rd Congressional District in Michigan, and—unsurprisingly, given his announcement that he stopped campaigning actively in mid-February while pondering his presidential future—the independent incumbent finished in fourth place for January-March numbers, with $97,000, after having led the field the previous quarter. Republican supermarket magnate Peter Meijer, who this week won the endorsement of the influential former Amash backers in the DeVos family, raised $353,000, including a $150,000 loan to himself; state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R–Grand Rapids) raised $190,000, and Democrat Hillary Scholten raised $152,000. Amash still has a slight lead in cash on hand, with $645,000, compared to $634,000 for Meijer, $259,000 for Scholten, and $248,000 for Afendoulis.

3) As mentioned in this morning's Reason Roundup, the coronavirus is hammering crucial signature-gathering exercises for third parties, potentially preventing the Libertarian Party from reaching its previously expected goal of being on the ballot in all 50 states.

So at this late date, one month out from the party's scheduled (if physically uncertain) nominating convention, should Amash throw his hat into the ring? The reaction is mixed on the new Reason Roundtable podcast, featuring Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman and Matt Welch. The quartet also, as you would imagine, discusses the coronavirus response, particularly the reopening debate, protests thereof, and the never-ending bailout/stimulus/printer-go-BRRRRing.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music Credit: 'Late Night Drive' by Nat Keefe & BeatMower.

Relevant links from the show:

"Justin Amash Has Been Actively Pondering a Libertarian Presidential Run for 2 Months, and Will Decide Soon," by Matt Welch

"Judge Jim Gray Thinks the Libertarian Party Needs Pragmatism, 'Stature' for 2020 Presidential Run," by Brian Doherty

"Justin Amash Outraises Democratic and Republican Opponents in Fourth Quarter," by Matt Welch

"Key Election Forecaster Switches Justin Amash's House Seat to 'Lean Republican' in 2020," by Matt Welch

"Candidates Vie to Represent the Libertarian Wing of the Libertarian Party," by Matt Welch

"Will Justin Amash Run for President as a Libertarian in 2020?" By Matt Welch

"Pushy Politicians Make Stay-at-Home Protests Necessary," by J.D. Tuccille

"Don't Get Fooled by Fake Photos of Coronavirus Lockdown Protests," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Celebrities and the Media Shouldn't Sneer at Coronavirus Lockdown Protesters," by Robby Soave

"It Took Less Than 24 Hours for Trump To Undermine His New Plan for Reopening State Economies," by Eric Boehm

"Trump's Plan To Reopen the Economy Admits Governors Are in Charge, but We're Probably Months Away From Anything Resembling Normalcy," by Eric Boehm

NEXT: 'We Make the Weather': Why Voluntary Cooperation Is Key To Battling Coronavirus

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  1. Should we be concerned that a barrel of Oil is worth less than a double of cheeseburger. Or should we care about a third party run that largely means nothing.

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      1. Sorry bot, but oil companies are paying that much for me to take a few barrels off their hands these days. Time to find a new gig.

    2. Why should I be concerned that something I need is cheap to buy?

  2. Justin needs to put up or shut up already!

    1. The T Party was created for antichoice totalitarian Trojan horses, so he should be a shoo-in for their nomination. Libertarians with any grasp of basic arithmetic should nominate Bill Weld. Libertarians able to work with the slopes and areas of curves will contribute money to a Weld campaign, bringing our down-ballot candidates thrice the votes.

  3. I’m bored of Suderman. I want another podcast where Nick rambles to himself for about an hour.

  4. Amash? No. Paul? Yes.

    But neither of them have a shot in hell of being President, especially this time around.

    Amash is a political opportunist, and not a very good one. He’s nothing more than a pretty standard Anti-Trump Republican. If anything, he’s angling for a job on CNN or FOX. He doesn’t really care which one.

    1. The real difference is that Amash has integrity, and Paul has none. That flip flopper whips like a flag in the wind while Amash has taken the hard but consistent choice each time.

      Heaven forbid he went against dear leader, his ultimate crime.

      1. “he went against dear leader, his ultimate crime.”

        I don’t recall him going against Xi. Whoring himself out to him was actually the reaaon he got run out of the party.

      2. Integrity is supporting a corrupt IC as long as you dont like the person?

    2. George Washington wouldn’t get elected with the kleptocracy parties counting the votes. The idea is to continue to get spoiler votes that cover the gap between the Two Evils and drag both of them away from coercion and toward rights. The commies and religious fascists did the same thing in the opposite direction from 1873 to 1920. They elected nobody but we got the Income Tax, Prohibition, illiterati electing senators, the Crash, the Depression, and a 500% increase in communists.

  5. nice post time/date. i’m meh on Justin he plays his cards wrong.

    1. When you don’t have any cards and only a nickel to bet, you can’t play them wrong. Frankly, if its April and you haven’t decided if you care enough, nobody else cares either. How about the LP just avoid the embarrassment of running a candidate this year? Maybe 2024, reboot the party and give people a chance to forget 50 years of failure.

  6. He should totally run. I look forward to him and his <1% polling being excluded from the debates, to the utter indifference of everyone.

    1. And Reason will be outraged — OUTRAGED — that a private entity would stifle a group’s speech.

      1. Yes it’s perfectly acceptable to be outraged at a duopoly that moves the goalposts for inclusion anytime a third party happens to gain traction.

        1. I have no sympathies. LP outrage that the the other two don’t clear the table for them and welcome a spoiler campaign onto the stage might make you feel morally superior, but everyone else just laughs. Hell, if the Tea Party that didn’t even exist on paper could put people in office in 18 months, how the hell are 50 years of LP failed management still justifying their paycheck with outrage and a “we will get them next time” attitude. And no, the LP has never gained traction.

  7. All I want is a libertarian running on a Libertarian ticket and not some disgruntle Democrat,Republican,Green, etc.. . Who do not get chosen for the party of their choice. Like Bill Weld.

    1. The problem is that seeking power over others is anathema to a real libertarian. Running for political office is all about seeking power over others, so real libertarians never enter the race for the LP nomination.

      To solve this problem I propose the LP party move to a raffle draft system for selecting the party’s presidential nominee.

      Here is how it would work.

      Every LP local puts all of it’s registered members names in a hat. One name is drawn at random. That name is sent to the state level party organization.

      Each of the 50 LP state organizations puts all the names they got from each of their locals in a hat. One name is drawn at random. That name is sent to the National LP party organization.

      At the time for the LP party convention, the 50 names drawn by the 50 state parties are put in a hat. One name is drawn.

      The winner (or loser depending on your perspective) is obligated to to run for President on the LP ticket.

      1. Names in a hat? This is 2020, not 1920.

      2. Being obligated to run is not very libertarian.

    2. Spoken like a true warrior for the babies! Vermin Shoe-preem would, I’ll wager, be this sockpuppet’s choice. There is a 100% Libertarian Gary Johnson in Austin Texas with the credentials and name recognition to bring us 12 million votes. He would make a perfect nominee.

      1. No, please don’t run Gary Johnson again. It’s not even funny anymore.

  8. Running for president makes a lot more sense than collaborating with Democrats to remove Trump.

  9. Umm, no.

  10. Should he run? No, not in my opinion because he has no chance and I currently have less faith in him as President than Trump. He is welcome to do so, but I see no value in it.
    He might be relatively libertarian, but his anti-Trump bs showed that he is fully willing to abandon reason and principles. He has since joined with socialist Democrats in order to spite anyone willing to help bad orange man regardless of whether the action adheres to his professed preferences

    1. I’ve already ordered my “Amash For Liberation 2020” campaign bumper sticker. So, yeah!

        1. Have your sarcasm meter checked out. It’s illegal to surf around the Internet without one.

    2. No chance to what? Scare the shinola out of the Kleptocracy by getting 12 million spoiler votes, forcing them to back away from all manner of totalitarian bills now pending in both Hice? That’s the nature of the game. Even communists understand how this works, and they made hay before their brand became the killing fields Auschwitz, Treblinka, Gulag, Guyana and Siberia.

  11. He should declare and then immediately concede. Saves a lot of time, energy and money that way. If he runs he may be the first Libertarian to pull votes from the Libertarians.

    1. I doubt it. Amash would get more votes from disgruntled Democrats than libertarians or Libertarians.

  12. As between Biden and Trump, I’d say that

    -where Trump is bad, Biden is bad for the same reason – eg., spending like there’s no tomorrow. There’s no reason to suppose Biden would be for fiscal restraint.

    -Where Trump is good, Biden is still bad, eg, the Supreme Court.

    So whenever there’s daylight between the two, the advantage is Trump’s, so far as I’m concerned.

    The polls (if, and it’s a big if, they’re trustworthy) seem to indicate that most voters go the other way – they give the advantage to Biden on the issues separating the candidates.

    Sooo…if Amash comes along with his “I hate Trump as much as any Democrat” schtick, maybe he can pick up some of the anti-Trump people. But for the same reason I want this to happen, anti-Trump voters probably won’t let it happen – that is, it would divide the anti-Trump vote and divert votes which “belong” to Democrats.

    1. “-Where Trump is good, Biden is still bad, eg, the Supreme Court.”

      Has the Supreme Court done well with respect to the corona virus and the lockdowns? Have they restored any of the liberties that Trump and the other authorities have taken away? is it just their right wingedness that appeals to you regardless what they do or say?

      “I hate Trump as much as any Democrat” schtick, maybe he can pick up some of the anti-Trump people.”

      He might split the Republican vote. Some of the ‘anti-Trump’ vote is to be found among Republicans, too. Amash, for example. This is bad for a Republican candidate.

      I think Amash should bide his time rather than wage a quijotic and money wasting battle for the Whitehouse. Soon, Trump will be a bad memory and the remaining Republicans will come begging for someone with credibility and integrity.

      1. Have they restored any of the liberties that Trump and the other authorities have taken away?

        Which constitutionally guaranteed liberties has Trump taken away?

        1. Habeus corpus? Isn’t that part of the constitution? I know it’s part of the Magna Carta and common law. Maybe you should consult a lawyer.

          1. The DOJ is saying that suspected criminals shouldn’t be released just because courts aren’t in session during COVID-19. That seems to be an issue of “public safety” in the sense of the constitution, no?

            1. I’m sure you could find lawyers willing to argue either side of the question.

      2. First off, regardless of exercise of authority, devolving power to the more local authority is in keeping with some forms of libertarianism. More decisions made federally is no good.

        So in that respect, I don’t think the SCOTUS and federal courts has any say over how states handle their business. State courts should evaluate governor actions based on state constitutions.

        However, there was a stay placed on the Governor who was attempting to ban easter services. So there is that.

        Obergefell was not some amazing libertarian victory. I’d be hesitant to advocate for more of that.

        1. This has been characterized as the biggest power grab in history, the federal courts have nothing to say about it, yet we’re supposed to celebrate Trump’s elevation of 2 right wing judges. I sense cognitive dissonance.

    2. Trump is 50/50 with the Supreme Court and let’s be honest, Gorsuch was an accident.

  13. Amash should sit ’20 out. Others have been more active within the LP campaigning. LP might not even qualify for the ballot in all 50 states. Trump is a slam dunk winner against Biden. Focus on ’24.

  14. Cthulhu for President, why vote for the lesser evil?

  15. Should Justin Amash Run for President?

    Sure, why not? I mean, if socialists like Bernie Sanders can run, why shouldn’t another ineffectual, self-righteous prick run as well?

  16. the coronavirus is hammering crucial signature-gathering exercises for third parties, potentially preventing the Libertarian Party from reaching its previously expected goal of being on the ballot in all 50 states.

    Only in the US is ‘representative government’ (owned by a duopoly) and the oh-so-fucking-precious 1A held hostage to a virus. I don’t see any hope of LP or Greens successfully challenging these in a federal court system that is owned by the D’s and R’s.

    But I’d at least like to see a third party that focuses on basic issues of governance/reform – which directly leads to the follow-on issues of corruption/cronyism. I doubt it gets many votes – but the ideological preaching doesn’t get either votes or attention or ‘teach’ anything either.

  17. When Gary Johnson ran as an antichoice republican impostor he got us about the same pitiful vote count as previous girl-bullying bigots running to drive voters away from the LP. When he decided women could have individual rights he pulled in a 328% increase in the vote tally, accelerating the repeal rate and scaring the shinola out of the looters. That antichoice gal in Omar’s Minnesota failed of reelection after declaring herself an anti-rights libertarian. What part of this picture do Nick and Matt not understand?

    1. Uh… libertarian moment!

    2. Wow, 328% increase??? So that was like another 500 votes, huh? Missed it by ‘that much’ then.

  18. Bill Weld has a campaign site up in which he waffles on everything but individual rights for women (which he ignores). I am sorry for imagining he had learned anything from working with Gary Johnson. But the real Gary Johnson of Austin Texas is perfectly qualified to net us the 12 million votes predicted by the logistical substitution curve.

  19. No. He will do a lot more for the libertarian movement if he wins his seat in MI as independent. Then joins (L) party and gets them officially in congress.
    Hard but not impossible.

  20. No one should run for President.

  21. Should he? Not unless he’s planning become a comedian or planning to retire from politics. Either way, it would be best for him to become a useful member of society rather than a politician…

  22. Amash is just an opportunist. Exactly what qualifies him for President? Because he quit the GOP? That, in itself, is no indicator. Sorry, MashMash, your 15 minutes of fame are done.

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