Republicans foolish to turn their backs on free thinkers like Michigan’s Amash

Justin Amash (

WASHINGTON, D.C. – If Republicans want to continue to be viewed as stuck-in-the-mud defenders of big business who have no tolerance for various viewpoints, they should keep doing what they’re doing – like ostracizing second term Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan.

According to a recent article in the Detroit News, Amash is drawing very little personal or financial support from establishment Republicans around the nation. That could be a problem for the congressman, since he’s facing a strong primary challenge from conservative, mainstream candidate Brian Ellis.

What the Republicans don’t realize is that Amash represents the type of free thinking that appeals to younger voters – the type who put Barack Obama over the top in two presidential elections.

It’s not that Amash is liberal. He’s far from it. There is no stronger proponent of limited government, and his commitment to the pro-life movement is absolute. But he’s also very independent, and refuses to support any type of legislation that he is not convinced passes Constitutional scrutiny.

For instance, he refused to support for a bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood. Amash is hardly friendly to that organization, yet explained in a New York Times piece that “legislation that names a specific private organization to defund, rather than all organizations that engage in a particular activity, is improper and arguably unconstitutional. Moreover, the legislation is easily thwarted because the organization may simply change its name.”

He’s also courageous, having bucked his party on key votes many times over the past four years, particularly when it comes to legislation that benefits favored government companies and industries. He has also broke with fellow Republicans many times in defense of civil liberties that are constantly threatened by national security intelligence efforts.

According to the New York Times, Amash has failed to vote with the Republican majority in the House 25 percent of the time, the most of any GOP member. That means Amash follows his conscience, and can’t be bullied or bought. Isn’t he the type of person most people would want to have serving in Congress?

Far too many of our elected representatives – on the left and right – are purchased by the special interests that fill their campaign coffers. And those special interests use their power to maintain their piece of the federal pie, virtually blocking any hope of getting federal spending under control.

One might argue that partisan discipline in the House or Senate are crucial, if anything is going to get done. That’s true enough. But students of good government also realize there’s room – indeed, a dire need – for some members of Congress to be driven by conscience, and raise legitimate questions and concerns about the efforts of their peers.

If all members of Congress allowed themselves to be herded like cattle by their leadership, very little critical thinking would occur. Both parties have a responsibility to examine themselves and their agendas before imposing them on the American people, and congressmen like Amash are invaluable in that sense.

Amash, like Tennessee Sen. Rand Paul, brings an air of intellectual diversity to the Republican Party that voters will welcome. The GOP establishment does not always have to agree with Amash’s positions, but they would be wise to embrace him and welcome his critiques. It would be a sign that there’s room for discussion in a party that is widely viewed as being too ideological and out of touch with contemporary America.

Authored by Steve Gunn


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