U.S. Rep. Justin Amash | Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0
In a Washington Post op-ed published on Thursday — the Fourth of July — maverick U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.) announced, “Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party.”
This comes after his strained relationship with the GOP following Donald Trump’s election, culminating in the congressman tweeting that he supported the president’s impeachment after reading Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on 2016 Russian election interference.
Amash had already left the Freedom Caucus, which he helped found.
The column is titled: “Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP.”
It does not seem coincidental that Amash began his column by invoking his immigrant parents after several reports of squalid conditions in migrant detention facilities, which progressive members of Congress have sought to highlight:
When my dad was 16, America welcomed him as a Palestinian refugee. It wasn’t easy moving to a new country, but it was the greatest blessing of his life.
Throughout my childhood, my dad would remind my brothers and me of the challenges he faced before coming here and how fortunate we were to be Americans. In this country, he told us, everyone has an opportunity to succeed regardless of background.
Growing up, I thought a lot about the brilliance of America. Our country’s founders established a constitutional republic uniquely dedicated to securing the rights of the people. In fact, they designed a political system so ordered around liberty that, in succeeding generations, the Constitution itself would strike back against the biases and blind spots of its authors.
My parents, both immigrants, were Republicans. I supported Republican candidates throughout my early adult life and then successfully ran for office as a Republican. The Republican Party, I believed, stood for limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty — principles that had made the American Dream possible for my family.
Amash goes on to say he’s become “disenchanted” with party politics, citing President George Washington’s farewell address decrying partisanship.
“In this hyperpartisan environment, congressional leaders use every tool to compel party members to stick with the team, dangling chairmanships, committee assignments, bill sponsorships, endorsements and campaign resources. As donors recognize the growing power of party leaders, they supply these officials with ever-increasing funds, which, in turn, further tightens their grip on power,” Amash writes.
Amash represents the GOP-leaning 3rd Congressional District encompassing Grand Rapids and Battle Creek.
The five-term member of Congress was facing a slew of GOP challengers, including Peter Meijer, whose family owns the retail store chain, state Rep. Jim Lower (R-Greenville) and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.).
Amash did not write about running for president as a Libertarian, although he has never ruled it out. And his Independence Day op-ed will only fuel the fire.
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