Congressman Justin Amash (I-Michigan) chose the Fourth of July to declare his own independence — from the Republican Party.
Amash has long been the lone voice in the Republican Party calling for the impeachment of President Trump, and his constituents in Grand Rapids, Michigan seem to love him for it. He’s now taken a new bold step to defy President Trump by leaving what is now largely viewed as ‘the party of Trump’ altogether.
Despite his feelings on impeachment, this does not make him a hero for the left, or even the center. Amash has voted in favor of Trump’s agenda 93% of the time during the current legislative session. Rather than signaling a shift in Amash’s ideology at large, this move more than likely signals a difference of opinion in what it means to be a conservative.
“A lot of Trump Republicans have this mindset that they have to fight this all out war against the left,” Amash told Vox last month. “And if they have to use big government to do it, they’re perfectly fine with that.”
In his op-ed in the Washington Post announcing his leaving the Republican Party, Amash lamented the “partisan death spiral” of the current political climate.
“The founders envisioned Congress as a deliberative body in which outcomes are discovered,” wrote Amash. “We are fast approaching the point, however, where Congress exists as little more than a formality to legitimize outcomes dictated by the president, the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader.”
This sentiment was echoed by a surprising colleague — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). It is fair to assume that there is very little politically that Ocasio-Cortez and Amash agree upon, but the dysfunction of Congress appears to be one.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 4, 2019
Meanwhile, Amash’s 2020 rival Peter Meijer declined to comment directly on Amash’s personal declaration of independence, saying that the Fourth of July should be a day to “take a break from divisive politics.” It should be noted that Meijer, heir to the Meijer grocery franchise, strongly disagrees with Amash on the issue of impeaching a president who, far from breaking away from divisive politics on July Fourth, has sparked considerable political controversy.
“We owe it to future generations to stand up for our constitutional republic so that Americans may continue to live free for centuries to come,” wrote Amash. “Preserving liberty means telling the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that we’ll no longer let them play their partisan game at our expense.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.