Day Two of the Jack News Guide to the Libertarian Party Presidential Race in 2020.
Editor’s Note: The introduction to this series includes links to each of the nine profiles.
The only self-identified libertarian in Congress, albeit with a lowercase ‘L’, Justin Amash has long enjoyed a devoted fan base among movement libertarians.
As one of the prime movers within the Freedom Caucus, he has also been a perennial thorn in the side of his party’s House leadership, including the ouster of former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Prior to winning his seat in the House, Amash served a single term in the Michigan state legislature, and before that was an attorney in private practice.
Amash is one of the more visible and transparent members of Congress. As a matter of practice, he provides an explanation for every vote cast, and freely engages with members of the public on social media.
His reputation for sticking to his principles has won him praise from both the left and right, but it also attracted a heavily-funded primary challenge in 2014. Amash beat back this attempt to unseat him by the Chamber of Commerce and other Republican establishment forces, but it further soured his relationship with the GOP.
As the son of Syrian and Palestinian Christian refugees, Amash has also attracted notice as one of the few Republicans to remain steadfast in opposition to President Trump’s “travel ban” targeted at Muslim-majority nations including Syria.
While generally reluctant to play identity politics, his background as one of the few Arab-American members of Congress provides potent symbolism to his opposition.
Will the nation’s sole libertarian Congressman bolt in time to seek the Libertarian Party nomination in 2020? That heavily depends on whether or not he wants to continue in Congress representing the Grand Rapids-area district once held by Gerald Ford. Michigan law does not permit him to be a candidate both for President and re-election to the House in the same election.
(Photo of Justin Amash at 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference in Chantilly, Virginia, by Gage Skidmore used with permission.)