Politics is defined as the art or science of influencing people’s beliefs on a civic, or individual level, when there are more than 2 people involved. But that is merely a technical definition which lacks a detailed description of the darker tactics involved in how individuals try to wield their political influence. The all to frequent, less than sincere, tactics involved have helped to inspire a different spin on politics, one which has often led to the belief that the word is a derivative of two Latin root words; “poli”, meaning many, and “tics”, as in blood sucking insects. While that is not true, from Machiavelli to Obama and practically every well known politician in between, it is an accurate historical characterization of how politics is actually conducted. As such, it is hard for sincere people of principle to establish staying power and to excel in politics. It is also harder for such genuine individuals to make a difference in the cut-throat field. Fortunately though, there are some elected leaders who are sincere enough to fight the good fight of “influencing people’s beliefs on a civic, or individual level”, but do so based on the principles and values that are best for the nation in the long run. Second term Michigan Congressman Justin Amash is just such a person.The 32 year old libertarian-Republican brings to Congress a set of principles that are simple but potent. He seeks not to reposition himself for an easy reelection campaign and he does not seek to cut the type of insider deals that those who wish to consolidate power for themselves might otherwise do. What Amash does is simply follow the Constitution and in doing so he bases all his votes on three key elements of the Constitution… its demands for limited government, economic freedom, and individual liberty.
In the two years Amash has served so far, he has been a leading advocate for federal restraint on every level. He has fought to protect our civil liberties by curtailing the government’s endless reach in to every aspect of our lives. He has fought to restrain government spending and over taxation by limiting the size and scope of the behemoth federal bureaucracy, and he does so even when it requires him to stand alone against his Republican colleagues. But for his willingness to exercise political courage and promote the basic constitutional principles that our nation is straying from , Justin Amash has paid a price and become a victim of politics.
The political power structure of congressional leaders which essentially attempts to institute a “you’ve got to go along to get along” rule, recently punished Rep. Amash and three other House Republican conference members for their principled stands by suddenly removing them from positions on several committees. For Amash it was his position on the all important House Budget Committee. Apparently, the Congressman was removed from the committee because of his past votes against key pieces of legislation promoted by the House Republican leadership. But according to one House Republican leadership team member;
“It’s not that ‘these are unpleasant people and bad colleagues and we don’t want them around’; it’s that they aren’t just content to vote against bad stuff and then be quiet about it.”
Either way the decision to remove Amash and his colleagues from their important committee positions was wrong.
Amash cannot represent the voters of his Michigan district by taking the orders of another Republican who represents the people of a district in Ohio. And if Justin Amash’s removal was based on his unwillingness to remain silent when it comes to explaining his positions and letting people know why he votes the way that he does, that is also ethically wrong.
During his first term in the House, Justin became a leading positive force in the incorporation of social media into his work as a public official. More so than any other elected official, Amash successfully uses such platforms as Facebook and Twitter to call attention to important issues and to actually explain his positions on those issues. If Republicans in high office have a problem with that, than the problem is theirs, not Amash’s.
Amash’s willingness and ability to personally take the time to advance his positions and beliefs by carefully articulating them for all who wish to understand the issues that effect them, is a genuine example of democracy in action… something which ironically, many of today’s democratically elected politicians do not do enough of. In fact there might even be more understanding and a better shot at achieving truly productive political compromises if more politicians were willing to fully and regularly explain themselves so openly.
For his part, Amash’s response to the charge that he does not remain quiet was;
“Bingo. Unlike many in Congress, I don’t attack my colleagues personally. I just explain every vote on Facebook. These simple explanations upset many in the political class who want to avoid public scrutiny.”
Amash is of the school of thought which believes that our republic is one which must practice democracy openly and honestly and his desire to do so prompts him to conduct the people’s business in a way that holds him accountability to his constituents. For this Republicans should not penalize Amash, they should praise him. More members of Congress should be as open as Amash is. For example, the Congressman voluntarily provides a detailed list of his office expenses, staff salaries, and congressional benefits online, because he believes you should know how your tax dollars are being spent. If every member of Congress did that, wasteful spending and financial fraud would be a far less share of our deficit creating federal budget than it currently is.
And that is in part, why Congressman Amash is named Republican of the Year. He receives the title not simply because he paid a price for his beliefs. He is awarded the honor because he is the type of conservative that our Party and more importantly our nation, needs more of.
He is an ideologue who has the ability to advance the cause through his ability to explain the logic behind his beliefs and who will not ditch his beliefs for the sake of achieving shallow and meaningless compromises that either kick the can down the road or sweep problems under the carpet. Yet he is also willing to bridge the partisan divide. One such bi-partisan effort involved his crossing the aisle to hammer together the Smith-Amash amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, legislation that would prohibit the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial.
Amash was also in the forefront of the successful attempt to stop the innocuous sounding but privacy invading bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which threatened to censor Internet content and stifle free speech.
On fiscal matters Justin Amash has led the fight to stop targeted tax breaks and subsidies to government-favored companies and industries, including big oil, and has opposed bailouts for failing companies and industries. He starts from the premise that taxing people only to redistribute their money to politically well-connected groups is morally wrong, unconstitutional, and economically unsound. And when it comes to the broader tax and spend policies of our out of control government, Amash is a budget hawk who is desperately trying to put an end to the crushing debt burden that the federal government is placing on future generations. In that plight Amash has proposed a unique balanced budget amendment with wide bipartisan support.
H.J. Res. 81, the Business Cycle Balanced Budget Amendment, balances current year spending with the average revenue of the last three years. Averaging revenue smoothes out the jumps and dives in federal revenue, makes the budget more predictable, puts downward pressure on taxes, and over time ensures small, sustainable budget surpluses to pay down the debt.
Through it all Amash’s legislative record is a pure one. It is a record that strengthens market competition, puts the nation on a course of fiscal responsibility, seeks to prohibit government overreach, defends life, stands up for a proper and effective defense of our nation and its interests, and leads the way to the type of government transparency and accountability that our nation needs more of.
Of course it can be said that for Amash, his principled votes are easy because unlike congressional superiors such as his conference leader, Speaker John Boehner, he is not directly responsible for accomplishing the goal of achieving compromises the type of compromises that can get legislation passed and turned in to law. Then again However; while that is true, the bottom-line is that if there were Members of Congress like Justin Amash, there would be fewer useless compromises such as the one that the Senate reached regarding the fiscal cliff and which the House agreed to. That compromise helped raised taxes on a few rather than on everyone but it totally ignored the need to reduce spending. As a result, the wealthiest among us will see the government confiscate more of their money so that the federal bureaucracy can continue to pump good money after bad money in this vicious cycle of spending more than we have. Such compromises are ultimately useless and Justin Amash understands that.
Not long after the Senate reached that deal, Amash tweeted the following;
The response suggests to me that if there were more Justin Amash’s in Congress, the bar set for reaching compromise would be moved much further to the right, a development that would be a good thing when you realize that bar for compromise is currently so far to the left that it only produces legislation that is detrimental to our nation’s future. So we need more Justin Amash’s in Congress. We need more conservatives who are willing to conduct the business of the people openly, willing to explain themselves, and who are also willing to make the loyal opposition understand that true compromise is not achieved by taking marching orders that require one to throw away their own principles, ignore the Constitution, and to agree to legislation that does more harm than good.
Currently, as the G.O.P. searches for a leader who can be the face of the Party and lead us out of national electoral obscurity, Justin Amash possesses the capacity to do so. Unfortunately, his youth, inexperience and lack of political seniority within the Party may prohibit him from becoming that face anytime soon. However, as we struggle to find that face, Justin Amash has proven himself to be a perfect example of the type of leader that person should be. Also to Amash’s credit is his ability to teach the G.O.P. a valuable lesson regarding the use of social media and the Party’s need to compete for younger voters against a Democrat Party which has outdone Republicans in that area.
But perhaps the strongest case that can be made for why Justin Amash is White House 2016′s Republican of the Year can be found in Amash’s own words on Facebook;
The fundamental purpose of government is to protect each person’s liberty. Government bureaucrats should not decide how you or I spend our time and money. When government uses central planning to promote certain activities and sectors of the economy–whether through Federal Reserve policies or targeted economic incentives–it destroys price signals and distorts behavior, creating dangerous economic bubbles. These bubbles become unsustainable, as happened with the housing market, and the economy crashes. This causes more pain and unemployment than otherwise would have existed without any government meddling.
Central planning hurts nearly all businesses and individuals, especially the poor, while benefiting those special interests that can afford to lobby for their favored outcomes. Expansive regulations generally benefit a few large corporations and punish thousands of small businesses that don’t have the resources to comply. With competition restrained, consumers can expect fewer choices, higher prices, and worse service. Government can best help the economy by making regulations predictable and uncomplicated, simplifying the tax code, and letting businesses stand or fail on their own merit.
Those words echo the sentiments of more than a hundred million Conservatives, Republicans, and Libertarians but making Justin Amash special is the fact that he holds true to those words in action and deed, not just verse.
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Amash on the Issues