When I listed out some potential options for 2020 primary challengers for Trump early last month, I listed Michigan Congressman Justin Amash as a possibility. Here’s what I had to say about why he should or should not run:
Why – Justin Amash is about as “Anti-Swamp” as anyone in the United States Congress. He consistently rails against both parties, and is often on the fringe minority of votes. He is probably the Republican member of Congress most willing to criticize Trump as well, and has made it clear he is not a fan. Finally, while he’s not the person to want to climb the political ladder for the sake of it, he doesn’t have many other options at this point to advance. He has slim chances of winning statewide office in Michigan, and his willingness to rail and vote against his party gives him no chance of advancing in House Leadership or Committee Status. If he wants to make as big a mark as possible on the national dialogue, this might be his best chance.
Why Not – While Name ID isn’t everything, Amash’s may be too low to even attract earned media and give him a chance to grow recognition. Additionally, his more Libertarian views may place him outside the party mainstream that, if anything, is shifting towards a larger role of government. While he may attract small-dollar donors from the same people who Ron Paul enthused in his Presidential runs, his ability to fundraise enough to seriously compete is in question.
Today, he became one of the few Republicans to acknowledge a run against Trump is a possibility. While he was asked specifically about a Libertarian bid, here are his full thoughts, per Politico:
“I would never rule anything out,” the Michigander said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“That’s not on my radar right now, but I think that it is important that we have someone in there who is presenting a vision for America that is different from what these two parties are presenting,” he said. Amash is the chairman of the House Liberty Caucus, which represents libertarian-minded lawmakers.
“Right now, we have a wild amount of partisan rhetoric on both sides and Congress is totally broken,” Amash said Sunday. “We can’t debate things in a clear way anymore. Everything has become, ‘Do you like President Trump or do you not like President Trump?'”
“I think that we need to return to basic American principles, talk about what we have in common as a people because I believe we have a lot in common as Americans,” he added. “And try to move forward together, rather than fighting each other all the time.”
I don’t know whether he would have a better chance as a Libertarian or a Republican, but he would be a strong addition to the field either way. He is one of the few Republicans to stand for Refugees and Asylum seekers, fight back against the surveillance state, and to work to get us out of questionable wars. While I’m definitely not as Libertarian as he is, I would certainly choose him over Trump. I’m hopeful a more mainstream Conservative enters the race, but Amash would certainly be an improvement over the President, any of the Democrats, or a pro-choice Republican such as Larry Hogan or Bill Weld.