As a conservative who has grave concerns about Donald Trump, I’ve arrived at an unavoidable conclusion: it’s time to draft Justin Amash for president.
My reasons are selfish. I’m not naïve enough to think he can win. I’m just looking for someone—anyone!—for whom I can, in good conscience, cast my vote.
Before we discuss why Amash is the right person for the job, let’s start with why I think this extreme measure is needed. There are no viable options currently available within the bounds of our binary, two-party system.
Let’s start with the “stable genius” in the White House, who careens from one chaotic proclamation to another. Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, disrespect for the rule of law, and lack of civility and temperament make it impossible to back him.
Even with his solid judicial nominees and tax cuts, how in good conscience can a principled conservative support four more years for this president?
But it’s not like Democrats are that much better. I won’t win any friends among my media peers by expressing this opinion. Trump is so bad, the argument goes, that conservatives should simply reject a political philosophy we’ve embraced for our entire lives and endorse people who are diametrically opposed to our core beliefs (free markets, religious liberty, and the right to life, to name a few).
While a Biden presidency might feature some salutary things, including a spirit of unification and restoration of institutional norms, it would also empower thousands of progressive bureaucrats to enact a liberal agenda (not to mention the lifetime appointments on the Supreme Court). Again, if you are a principled conservative who cares deeply about enacting conservative public policy—who believes that the left-wing policies of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and company are misguided and dangerous—being complicit in advancing this agenda is a non-starter.
Enter Justin Amash, a young libertarian-leaning Republican who uses social media to explain every vote he makes.
Amash distinguished himself in the last several months—first by voting against the president’s bogus “emergency order” regarding the border wall—and then by coming out in favor of impeachment. As Politico’s Tim Alberta has observed, “Justin Amash is the most intellectually honest and consistent GOP member of Congress.”
In response, Republicans have accused him of being an opportunist and an attention hog, which are absurd claims. If Amash’s goals were popularity or career advancement, it would be smarter to be a Trump toady (or simply to keep his powder dry). Indeed, Amash has more to lose than to gain. His primary challenge from a Trump supporter back home in Michigan, coupled with his loss of financial support from the DeVos family, demonstrates how intellectual honesty comes at a price.
Call it a protest vote if you want but Amash is one of very few politicians today that I could support in good conscience. And the good news is that—because he has already demonstrated his moral courage—he might just be crazy enough to do it!
I would certainly support him in a Republican primary, but the better move would be for Amash to run as a third-party candidate (possibly as a Libertarian, if he could win that party’s nomination). Doing so would once again allow people like me to participate in a general election without selling our souls in the process.
One predictable concern about an Amash run is the possibility that the “stabbed in the back” narrative would be especially tempting if Trump were to lose the presidency along with losing Amash’s home state of Michigan. Republicans who are (perhaps naively) holding out hope that a pre-Trump GOP might be resurrected would be at a disadvantage if Trump and his minions could plausibly argue that Amash cost Trump the election.
Such hypotheticals should not dissuade us from action. If Trump loses because he was susceptible to voter attrition, that’s on Trump. What is more, the notion that Amash would cost Trump voters is highly debatable. It seems just as likely that any erstwhile Republican who defects to Amash has already made up his mind about Trump.
So there you have it. It’s settled. Justin Amash for president. I’m ready to sign up. The draft movement starts here. Let’s make it happen.