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Assault on America, Day 190: How many GOPers will follow Justin Amash out of Republican-land?

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The news passed in the night like so many tidbits of information that lack gravitas or immediate effect as Michigan Rep. Justin Amash announced his exit from the Republican Party on Independence Day, apparently fed up with the powers-that-be to the point where reconciliation was no longer desirable or feasible on either side.

Amash’s bitter parting with the Grand Old Party was hardly unexpected as he’s sniped at fellow Republicans and President Donald Trump for months/years now, often taking exception with the faction’s loyalty to the chief executive and lack of spending restraint as well as its continued drift away from strict constitutionalism in the libertarian sense. Stymied by an intractable and politically stalemated situation in Congress, Trump’s taken executive actions (such as declaring a national emergency at the border) that tweak the purist souls of people like Amash. He simply couldn’t take it any longer.

Some were sad to see Justin go, others basically treated his departure with a “so what?” attitude. An old saying goes that no man is an island, but Amash seems to believe he’s surrounded by a sea of corruption, disunity and selfishness. Now he’s a castaway alone in no politician’s land, adrift from relevancy and hope. Unfortunate…for him.

As would be expected, liberals loved Amash’s split with the GOP and saw it as a harbinger of greater discontent within the party in power. The rarely reliable Juan Williams wrote the other day at The Hill, “What Amash is now saying publicly fits with what I’ve been hearing from Congressional Republicans in private. Trump is abandoning bedrock issues — balanced budgets, free trade and strong support for NATO — that formed the modern Republican Party...

“The conventional wisdom in Washington has been that GOP elected officials will never turn on Trump for fear of being primaried by a pro-Trump candidate. Just ask former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) about the price of challenging Trump. Trump knows this, and uses it to keep the GOP in line. But some now see his grip on the GOP loosening...

“For the first time, there is reason to think Republicans in Congress can see their aims as distinct from Trump’s targets.”

It’s great to see a Democrat like Williams so concerned with the health of the Republican Party. From his years of TV observations and writings as a liberal pundit in high standing with the DC establishment media swamp class, we always can count on Juan to provide a (unintentional) laugh followed by a quizzical expression and, “how the heck does he know anything about what conservatives think?”

Conservatives aren’t the same as Republicans. Most if not all conservatives are Republicans but not all Republicans are conservatives. There’s a sizeable contingent of wishy-washy illegal immigration/cheap labor championing big government-touting GOPers who are more than happy to toss liberty lovers under the proverbial bus whenever they spot an opportunity. For many the congressional GOP is a marriage of convenience, seeing as even the so-called “moderates” usually have more in common with conservative Republicans than Democrats do.

Democrats like Juan are a breed apart, however -- they’ve morphed into lockstep followers of reactionary socialist nutcases like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Maxine Waters. Why doesn’t Williams ask his establishment Republican sources what they think of impeachment and the Green New Deal -- do they take Trump’s side or the Democrats’?

As Williams typically does in his commentaries, he cited the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio, unnamed Republican senators, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Amash and George Will as experts on GOP policy and harmony. With the possible exception of Graham -- who’s outspoken in the John McCain mold on every issue remotely connected to national security -- all are members of the Washington ruling elites. In Rubio’s case we know he’s a dedicated neocon who, if it were up to him, would have American jarheads marching into every country on earth (friend or foe) to subjugate the inhabitants there at the point of a bayonet.

Graham is now as solid a Trump-backer as they come but still is quirky at best. George Will tossed away decades of hard-earned respect through his refusal to acknowledge the reasons why Donald Trump took over the GOP in 2016 and similarly fails to grasp why the president remains so popular with the grassroots today. (It’s not a cult, George; if anything, the establishment is a “cult” complete with unconscious rituals and slavish adherence to the status quo).

Americans like winning and Trump provides it. They also appreciate strong leadership abroad, an unwavering pro-American domestic policy (trade, energy production, taxes, etc.) at home and a figurehead who isn’t the least bit hesitant to tell everyone how great America is. Democrats line-up to bash the country, its president and people who disagree with them. Who’s going to win the popularity contest here, Juan?

Meanwhile, Will would never acknowledge it, but Trump commands allegiance from about nine-in-ten Republicans while hardly any non-#NeverTrumpers regularly read his columns anymore (though it should be noted his observations on Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are right-on in this piece). Williams’ sources don’t exactly speak for rank-and-file Republicans and he certainly doesn’t understand the people walking precincts, stuffing envelopes and putting up yard signs.

Neither does Justin Amash, though the congressman deserves a smidgen of credit for sticking to his limited government bona fides. But a party is like a team -- and a lone wolf like Justin won’t get far on tangential crusades that can’t command a wide following, much less a majority. Therefore, Amash will keep his principles, (most likely) lose his election and fade into the background while Trump will retain the love of the conservative grassroots, win or lose.

The subject’s not exactly new, but would an Amash presidential run -- as an independent or Libertarian Party candidate -- make a difference in next year’s election outcome? Liberals and Democrats think so… but not so fast. John Fund wrote at National Review, “[I]f politics in recent years has taught us anything, it is that the conventional wisdom is often dated and useless.

“If Justin Amash runs for president as a principled libertarian who lacks Trump’s excesses, he might indeed hurt the president in key states. But if he runs as more of a reformer who wants to attack corporate welfare and question the drug war, he could attract younger voters who would normally vote Democratic.

“As Trump opponents jostle for a chance to convince Justin Amash to run in 2020, they should remember the old Chinese adage that you should be careful what you wish for. You might get it.”

Yes indeed, strict libertarians are an unusual bunch. When someone mentions “libertarian” and “Republican” in the same sentence, chances are they’re referring to Ron Paul, the obscure Texas Republican congressman affectionately known as “Dr. No” who ran for president in 2008 and 2012, attracting a following that definitely scared the you-know-what out of the party establishment.

Paul was viewed as an oddity in party circles and wasn’t given particular heed until he started drawing huge crowds of young people who wouldn’t be caught lifeless at a John McCain or Mitt Romney rally. Younger conservatives/libertarians -- along with stodgy lifelong devotees to the cause -- took to Paul’s refusal to say whether he’d support the eventual party nominee and his stubborn unwillingness to rubberstamp GOP mantras and institutions.

From his senate seat Ron’s son Rand carries on the family outsider tradition, though Rand isn’t as quick to sacrifice himself on the unattainable altar of absolute libertarian principle. Rand is perhaps the most complete fusion of conservatism and libertarianism you’ll find in Washington today -- much more so than Justin Amash. Rand is highly respected by liberty-lovers and is at least tolerated by the establishment. By contrast, Amash is a romantic dreamer who couldn’t hope to compete in a presidential election.

Amash could be a spoiler though. But as Fund pointed out in his article, Amash could also easily ruin the Democrat nominee’s chances in certain states. Since true libertarians embrace the Democrats’ anything-goes social platform (including drug legalization, same-sex marriage and abortion-on-demand), many of their votes could go to Amash rather than support a wacked-out leftist Democrat who urges government control of everything -- and confiscatory taxes to boot.

Natural rights defending libertarians also wouldn’t flock to the radical left’s unrelenting drive to stifle free speech and expression on college campuses or in the public square. Libertarians aren’t Antifa goons. Today’s Democrat left is no friend to liberty.

Would Amash make a difference? We’ll need to see if he’s running first, then assess what’s going on. President Trump won’t lose sleep over it. For now, only people like Juan Williams are in a celebratory mood over Justin’s minor and inconsequential party mutiny.

Justin Amash won his fifteen minutes of fame when he bolted from the Republican Party last week, but will anyone think about him six months from now? As a member of the GOP, Amash had a platform to speak as an outsider; now he’s just a political eccentric without a voice and no friends.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffrendall67

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