‘While poverty persists, there is no freedom.’ – Nelson Mandela
A few months ago, PPP Polls found that my Twitter account @LOLGOP would be slightly ahead of Rep. Justin Amash in a head-to-head race for Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat.
Since then, Amash has expanded his national profile as a leading voice calling for an end of the broad surveillance being done by the National Security Agency. He even surprised many by convincing the House Republican leadership to hold a vote to defund the NSA. It failed.
Amash is a “libertarian,” who is proudly trying to construct a career in the mold of Senator Rand Paul.
He’s also a member of House majority that has voted this year to keep Guantanamo Bay Prison open and endorsed the indefinite detention of American citizens. Despite these very anti-libertarian policies, Amash has no problem staying in a party that only feigns interest in civil liberties, the same party whose last president conducted widespread unwarranted NSA surveillance without any of the limited oversight that now exists.
How can Amash say he’s for “liberty” and remain in the GOP?
It’s easy. There’s only one thing he wants to be free from — the government. (Also, if he joined the Libertarian party, he’d probably never win another election in his life.)
This week, Amash joined four other Michigan House reps –Dan Benishek, Kerry Bentivolio, Bill Huizenga and Tim Walberg — in signing a letter saying that Obamacare should be defunded. This is part of an effort led by Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio to stop the Affordable Care Act before the health care exchanges, tax credits for 26 million Americans and Medicaid expansion are set to roll out on January 1, 2014. Implicit in this demand to defund is the threat to shut down the government or default on our debt if the president won’t agree to give up his signature legislative accomplishment.
If you don’t stop trying to get tens of millions of Americans health insurance, Mr. President, we will crater the economy.
This is the kind of theoretical jive that thrills libertarians who refuse to accept that the single factor that most limits the liberty of most Americans is economic pressure. The fear of losing a job, a house, health insurance drives more decisions and sparks far more angst than the threat of Big Brother monitoring our metadata.
Business Insider‘s Josh Barro points out that Obamacare is designed to help Americans escape poverty. No longer will Americans be afraid to earn more because they might lose their Medicaid. At least, if they live in a state is expanding Medicaid, something “libertarians” oppose.
I understand the appeal of Amash’s full-throated condemnations of surveillance policies that are clearly in need of reform. But he doesn’t just want to defund the NSA. He wants to defund health care reform. After that he drastically wants to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Because to him, the government can only do harm, no matter how many people it helps.
Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have been leaders in provoking NSA disclosures and calling for reform the court that oversees government surveillance. They also believe in affordable health care for all Americans, a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions and a government that asks the rich and corporations to be responsible to the country that makes their success possible.
Justin Amash just wants to be left alone.
Wyden and Udall believe that we can do good things together, and that’s the only way we’ll ever be free.