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Rep. Thomas Massie on Shakedowns, Cronyism—and Why He's Sticking With the GOP

"I didn't come to Washington to make friends."

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) is a thorn in the side of the GOP establishment. He has voted against so many bills, including measures championed by his own party, that in 2013 Politico dubbed him "Mr. No."

Elected to Congress in 2012 at the height of the Tea Party movement, Massie is an MIT-trained engineer with 24 patents to his name. He founded SensAble Technologies, a pioneering tech company specializing in 3D scanning and touch computing.

He drives an electric car and lives with his family in an off-the-grid farmhouse, the subject of a new documentary produced by Free the People. But while Massie considers himself an environmentalist, he co-sponsored legislation last year to disband the Environmental Protection Agency. Solar panels may be the energy source of the future, he says, but that doesn't mean we have to mandate or subsidize their use.

Reason sat down with Massie at FreedomFest in Las Vegas to discuss his battles with the Republican establishment, how Trump's tariffs are breeding cronyism, why federal marijuana prohibition will come to an end, and the impact that he and his fellow libertarians in Congress are having on policy. A member of the GOP, Massie also explains why he won't be switching over to the Libertarian Party anytime soon.

Edited by Justin Monticello. Shot by Jim Epstein and Paul Detrick. Additional graphics by Austin Bragg. Music by The Grand Affair.

Photo Credits

Photograph of the Perspecta volumetric display courtesy of Actuality Systems, Inc.

Photo of Massie: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS/Newscom

Photographs of Thomas Massie outside his congressional office and speaking for the Ron Paul Institute courtesy of Gage Skidmore (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/)

Photographs of John Boehner by Gage Skidmore (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/)

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  • Just Say'n||

    "He drives an electric car"

    Cosmo

  • Cynical Asshole||

    And considers himself an environmentalist.

    What a fag.

  • Just Say'n||

    A true libertarian would own a gas guzzler and chop trees for sport

  • DiegoF||

    Petroleum is for neocons and smog alarmists. I rig my car to run on lignite.

  • Pepe||

    It may surprise you, and most statists like you, that social objectives are possible without interference of the heavy hand of govt.

  • Echo Chamber||

    Massie 2020!

  • DiegoF||

    I can see the minority-outreach merch already: "Massie 4 Massa"

  • H. Farnham||

    Thomas Massie might not ever seek the 2020 Libertarian presidential nomination, but he'll always be president of my heart (hat tip Suderman).

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    in 2013 Politico dubbed him "Mr. No

    Like that's a bad thing

  • DiegoF||

    They used to call former Michigan governor (and since then Michigan State president--yikes!) John Engler "Dr. No" for his record-setting use of the veto. And he wasn't even a doctor. Rand Paul should be "Dr. No" (although I guess when it comes to executive appointments he's "Dr. Yes"). "Mr. No" is just gay.

  • tlapp||

    Dr. No is taken, fortunately he was defeated by James Bond.

  • tlapp||

    It's a nickname he should wear with honor.

    "It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones." Calvin Coolidge

  • tlapp||

    Calvin Coolidge — 'It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.'

    Hooray for Mr. No.!

  • Iheartskeet||

    I see interview after interview with libertarian-ish congressman, and they are all Republicans.

    Are there any Democrats of similar stripe ? I mean, R's are supposed total a-holes who are just as bad (worse !) than Ds, so my expectation is a similar number of D interviews.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Probably at some low level, but I always get the feeling that at the national level Republicans simply do not have the same stranglehold over their internal politics as Democrats do.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I'd say the Democrats are losing that grip. Some pig-ignorant socialist twat just beat one of their career sycophants in a primary, and that's not good for the Powers that Be.

    -jcr

  • Qsl||

    In the glory days of Ron Paul, you had significant commiseration between him and Dennis Kucinich. And even now, there is frequent agreement with Ron Wyden, at least on social issues. Hell, I even find myself agreeing with Bernie Saunders in at least identifying problems that get the short-shirift. Same could be said of Warren, at least in her early "no corporate welfare" days.

    As Massie points out, the Dems do a better job of corralling their lunatic fringe. Not to mention most liberals hate libertarians. Agreeing to an interview by Reason would be tantamount to sleeping with the enemy.

  • ||

    The GOP historically have had a higher toleration for "unorthodox" views, the Democrats, other than strata of Red sympathy, have not.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Are there any Democrats of similar stripe ?

    Nope. Not a one.

  • JoeJoetheIdiotCircusBoy||

    My take is you won't ever get people that are libertarian-ish as an ethos on the Democratic side. If anything, you will find people that are libertarian-ish on a certain issue. Not because of libertarian-ish thinking, but rather because their own type of thinking leads to the same conclusions as a libertarian would. Take for example Jared Polis (I believe Reason did an interview with him awhile back) who can be libertarian-ish on certain issues (like marijuana rescheduling, tech surveillance) but is just atrocious on other things.

  • BlueStarDragon||

    The lack of democrats leaning libertarian is a fairly new thing. Back in the eighties and early nineties, when both parties had a hard time agreeing on a political appointment ( mainly at the state or city level.) they would turned to the libertarians for a candidate as we where seen as a neutral choice.Also back then it was not uncommon for both the democrats and republicans to try to recruit at the Local LP conventions. But also the LP still get as many new members from democrats and republicans parties plus votes. Which is why we got attack so badly by the media this last election when they realize that some democrats said they we going to vote for the LP.

  • tlapp||

    There was a time at least a generation ago when democrats were defenders of civil liberties. The democrats that believed that are mostly dead now.

  • TLBD||

    Massie is my second favorite politician, right behind Rand Paul.

    Amash seems like a whiny bitch lately, but I suppose he is still third.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Amash is the most consistent.

  • tlapp||

    I like them all but they are not enough. Need to send them reinforcements in the house and senate.

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