April 30, 2020

Amash Considers Presidential Run

“Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan said Wednesday he is seeking the Libertarian nod for president because millions of Americans do not feel well represented by either major political party… Amash [is] a Trump critic who left the Republican Party to become an independent.” AP News

Both sides are generally critical of Amash and skeptical that he will have a significant impact on the race.

See past issues

From the Left

“[Amash is] unlikely to get a large percentage of the vote or have any impact on who wins the election… It's not that there isn't some room for a third party bid. It's just that such a candidacy would likely come from the left, not the right like Amash -- someone more akin to the progressive Bernie Sanders. A little more than 10% of voters have an unfavorable view of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in our March CNN/SSRS poll. Voters who dislike Biden and Trump are overwhelmingly young (75% under 45) and liberal (34% very liberal and 15% somewhat liberal). Very few are older than 45 or conservative (14%). It should be noted most of these voters who disliked both candidates still voted for a major party candidate in 2016.”  
Harry Enten, CNN

“Whether a strong Amash showing on Election Day could hurt the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate more remains unclear. President Donald Trump has continually earned high approval ratings among the overwhelming majority of self-identified Republicans throughout his presidency, but Amash could win support among traditionally Republican or conservative voters who are dissatisfied with Trump. He could also appeal to progressive voters who are unhappy with Joe Biden's candidacy and agree with Amash on issues like civil liberties and foreign policy.”
Haley Byrd, CNN

“The tidy consensus among the pundit class as the field narrowed to Biden and Bernie Sanders was that Biden was the clearly superior and electable candidate because he didn’t offer anything that might spook those fabled Republicans who either didn’t vote for Trump or who have come to regret doing so. It is impossible to imagine, however, that Amash might attract the support of any other type of voter… That Amash’s announcement prompted the immediate fear that Biden might lose only demonstrates the extent to which Democrats fetishize obtaining the support of Amash’s base…

“We’ve reached the point where a third-party campaign by the person who co-founded and chaired the House of Representatives’ right-wing Liberty Caucus might shift votes away from the Democratic presidential candidate—or, at least, that the Democratic establishment is concerned that he might. Such a phenomenon should call for a prolonged period of soul-searching. Democrats might get precisely that.”
Jason Linkins, New Republic

Amash is “a principled small-government libertarian who thinks Trump is unfit for office. If his main goal is to defeat the president, he should run a campaign focused not on Trump’s deficiencies but on policy questions that sharply divide the parties. Anti-Trump ads are unlikely to shake Republican voters. Even those who aren’t big Trump fans may, given the effects of negative partisanship, move closer to the president when they see him attacked. Those attacks might also draw in some Democrats who aren’t enthusiastic about Biden. Issue ads, on the other hand, could be designed to appeal to wavering Republicans but not to those who lean Democratic…

“[But] we’re talking about small numbers of voters here… There’s no reason to expect either [Amash or Ventura] to have a chance to win even a single electoral vote. That said, they certainly could make a difference if the contest between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden ends up being a close one.”
Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg

“Amash announced only an exploratory committee, so a failure to garner money or support might deter him. Recall that independent Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, got such a putrid reception that he never launched his presidential race. Given the immediate reaction among people who would be Amash’s target audience (disillusioned Republicans), Amash could reach the same conclusion…

“Those who fear for the future of the republic are not anxious to make it any harder for Biden to win, and are in no mood to tolerate spoilers. Amash, who previously said he would not run unless he could win, is engaging in what amounts to a vanity campaign in an absolutely critical election. We hope he reconsiders.”
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

From the Right

“It is highly insulting to assume those who supported third-party candidates would pick the so-called ‘Lesser of Two Evils’ if there were no other options besides Republican or Democrat. No one is forced to pick a presidential candidate on Election Day — even ‘None of the Above’ or leaving the presidential section blank… are options…

“Hillary Clinton was no friend to liberty or limited government. She vowed to use executive action to circumvent the Second Amendment and force her will onto businesses. Her interventionist foreign policy put her at odds with anyone who believes in the nonaggression principle. Libertarians and limited-government advocates saw Clinton as much of an ally of limited government as they see Trump: not one at all. That's why many opted for either Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson in 2016 or no one at all.”
Taylor Millard, Washington Examiner

“If, as some Democrats insist, Amash is jeopardizing Joe Biden’s odds of beating Trump by jumping into the race… shouldn’t Biden and the Democrats start brainstorming some ways to win over the votes of libertarian-leaning voters?”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Amash made headlines last year by quitting the GOP and throwing his support behind the Democrats’ impeachment effort. He won strange new respect from liberals and neoconservatives — not exactly the fanbase a principled libertarian craves, you might think. But since his moment of NeverTrump glory, he’s been a nonentity…

“What has marked Amash’s politics more than any particular issue is his claim to personal moral superiority, including over his own closest allies… A humbler man might have asked himself why every other Republican — including equally or even more liberty-minded ones, such as Kentucky’s Rep. Thomas Massie — was opposed to impeachment. Your friends and allies might be wrong, but they’re presumably your friends and allies in the first place because you think they’re generally on the right side. And if you think they’re wrong in a particular instance, friendship and loyalty would argue that you should try all the harder to convince them to change, and not simply break off the relationship.”
Daniel McCarthy, Spectator USA

Amash probably won’t make an impact on the race despite the likelihood that he can garner media attention… Democrats are united in their hatred of Trump, and the president’s relatively orthodox Republican policies have satiated most GOP voters. Amash will attract some die-hard Never Trump Republicans, but it’s hard to see how he obtains even 2 percent on Election Day…

“[Jesse Ventura] could have a bigger impact on the race than Amash. Ventura is a charismatic performer, a craft he learned and honed during his wrestling career. He has a long record of opposing both parties and is distinctly nonideological. He could easily appeal to the infamous Bernie Bros… He could also appeal to non-college-educated voters who voted for Trump in 2016 because he wasn’t Clinton but returned to the Democratic Party in 2018. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden needs the lion’s share of both groups of voters to defeat Trump.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

Some point out that “The possible candidacy of Amash creates quite the conundrum for those willing to claim an air of moral superiority over those who don't think precisely as they do…

“The [anti-Trump Republicans] who threw their support behind Biden will say he's the polar opposite of Trump, knowing and understanding all that Trump does not. But so does Amash… Outside of foreign policy, where Amash lines up more with the Rand Paul wing of the Republican Party as opposed to the Mitt Romney wing, Amash is representative of the very principles people have lamented were left behind by most to curry favor with Trump…

“It's safe to say that Republicans admonishing others about principles will have a difficult case to make for themselves if they choose to abandon all of the praise they had for Amash, his policies, and his willingness to defy Trump by voting for Biden. That's not advancing principles. It's engaging in something transactional.”
Jay Caruso, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“Trump and Biden are a combined 150 years old, deeply compromised in personal and public ways and incapable of talking for more than a few minutes without descending into cringe-inducing word salads. They represent not just the past, but something approaching the worst version of the past. Trump is unabashedly nostalgic for an America that was demographically monotonous, sexist and elitist, overflowing with smoked-filled rooms in which businessmen and politicians cut shady deals. Over the course of nearly 50 years in the Senate, Biden was one of the architects of mass incarceration, imperial overreach abroad and the drug war…

“Amash carries none of that baggage. Like his progressive congressional counterpart, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the libertarian is young, idealistic and looks like the multi-ethnic future of America. Trained as a lawyer, he explains every vote he casts on Facebook and Twitter in clear, unambiguous language and shows up for work every day… Amash will provide a striking contrast to the incumbent and his Democratic challenger. At the very least, he will pump fresh blood and fresh ideas into a race notable for a lack of enthusiasm for its geriatric candidates.”
Nick Gillespie, Spectator USA

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