Immediately after Donald Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party in 2016, it was possible to imagine significant elements of the GOP resisting any enduring Trumpian captivity. And not long before that, there was talk of the Republican Party entering a “libertarian moment” led by presidential candidate Rand Paul and drawing on the systemic anti-government passions of the tea-party movement.
Both these hopeful streams of resistance to the populist nationalism represented by Trump seem to have petered out. One of the very few consistent dissenters to the president’s will in the ranks of congressional Republicans is thinking about following his own libertarian instincts right out of the GOP, as Roll Call reports:
The Libertarian Party has urged Rep. Justin Amash to consider mounting a third-party challenge to President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election …
When asked about the possibility of a presidential run over the last several weeks, Amash has repeated his desire to see a candidate challenge the dominance of Democrats and Republicans in politics, which he has described as a “two-party duopoly.”
And when asked in January at a Libertarian convention to describe the ideal third-party presidential candidate, Amash referred to himself.
The Michigander has been the rare heretic in the House GOP caucus:
The staunch libertarian and co-founder of the Freedom Caucus — while aligned with his party on priorities like repealing the protections of the Affordable Care Act — has diverged from leadership to oppose the sale of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia and, more recently, President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration.
Amash’s devotion to his principles has grated Republicans. Not long after the 2012 election, the GOP Steering Committee voted to remove Amash from the Budget Committee, while also punishing three other lawmakers in a similar fashion.
Amash was also the only Republican on the House Oversight Committee who refused to join in wild partisan attacks when Trump apostate and accuser Michael Cohen testified in February, as the Detroit Metro News observed:
One Republican rose above his party’s desperate and cheap tactics to discredit and smear President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen during Wednesday’s House oversight committee.
Three hours into the partisan circus, Rep. Justin Amash, of Michigan, broke ranks with fellow Republicans to ask a meaningful question of Trump’s attorney and fixer of 10 years.
“What is the truth that you know President Trump fears the most?” Amash, who has been critical of Trump in the past, asked.
He seems to think he has little to lose in bucking the new dispensation of his party, because the old dispensation has all but died:
Amash has been clear-eyed that his party has transformed since the libertarian wave of 2010, which helped bring him into office.
“The tea party is largely gone. It was replaced with nationalism and protectionism and the general philosophy of the party now under Trump,” Amash said to MLive.
Whether or not he leaves his party, Amash clearly believes his party has left him. But if he’s not alone, he’s very lonely.