We need more Republicans like Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan. Here, we have a young Congressman in Gerald Ford’s old seat who often won’t doff his hat to the GOP leadership. A few months ago, he rattled the usually pro-war leadership when he worked with longtime Democrat Rep. John Conyers (also Mich.) on an amendment challenging NSA spying.
Indeed, this libertarian-leaning Republican, who shows some populist tendencies, is generally not the bane of the Democrats. The tough challenge Amash is facing, rather, comes from a Republican Party which won’t tolerate “rebels” who challenge the warfare state and who won’t march in lockstep on all the GOP’s budget and energy priorities that tend to favor the creditor class.
Amash, for good reason, has received some financial help from former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Why? To battle a primary challenger, Brian Ellis, who is on a warpath for Amash’s seat with significant West Michigan big-business money behind him.
But Ellis, 53, seems to be yet another war-mongering neo-conservative, and an apparent apostle of neo-liberal capitalism (read: Free trader, pro-creditor class)
A fundraising email from Paul to supporters noted: “Justin Amash is in trouble!” Paul urged those on his national list of donors to join a fundraising surge — a money bomb — because Amash’s 3rd District Congressional seat seems vulnerable.
Because of Paul’s help, the Amash campaign raised more than $97,000 as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 — with a 48-hour effort ending at midnight, as reported by the Detroit News. “By comparison, it took Amash three months to raise more than $200,000 in his last fundraising report,” the News added, while quoting Amash campaign spokesman Will Adams: “We’re thrilled with the amount of support and words of encouragement.”
Ellis owns an investment advisory firm, Brooketree Capital Management, and is a former East Grand Rapids School Board member. He scolded Amash for voting against the budget deal attributed to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) while claiming the deal would trim the budget deficit by 90% in three years — when all realistic estimates don’t see significant deficit reduction until about 2020 or beyond.
Ellis’s backers include prominent Michigan businessmen Mark Bissell, J.C. Huizenga and Mike Jandernoa. They signed a letter as part of a fundraising plea, although Amash has business backing of his own, including Amway. Amash’s annoying habit of voting against several GOP leadership priorities—most recently against the bipartisan budget deal, among other issues — has irked Ellis and others of his ilk to nearly the boiling point.
“He didn’t support the Keystone Pipeline. He didn’t support small business tax cuts, and he didn’t even vote to reaffirm ... ‘in God we trust’ as our national motto. So yeah, he needs help,” Ellis told the Detroit News. And Ellis has adopted the tactic of naming one vote by Amash each week on his campaign website that Ellis considers horrendous, to put constant pressure on the incumbent.
The Keystone XL pipeline is praised by most Republicans who ignore its drawbacks, such as an environmental impact whose consequences could be much worse than expected, and indications that most or all of the final product will leave Gulf Coast refineries and go to places like China.
Amash has themed his reelection campaign: “The Establishment Strikes Back: Join the Rebel Alliance.” And he has a good rapport with the people, as this writer found out when meeting and questioning him during his district tour last August. At a Battle Creek, Mich., coffeehouse Amash announced his firm opposition to what seemed like an imminent US attack on Syria.
At the time he joined 116 Congressmen in signing a letter demanding that Obama obey the Constitution by getting the consent of Congress to declare war on Syria. It worked. War was averted. Amash also received a warm welcome at the rally held in Washington D.C. to protest NSA spying. Around that time, he nearly won a House floor battle to curb the NSA’s surveillance programs.
The ruling class would benefit from Amash losing his seat in Congress and not climbing the political ladder. Putting principle over party, it seems, is prohibited. Amash apparently wants to legalize it.
Mark Anderson is a veteran journalist who divides his time between Texas and Michigan. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From The Progressive Populist, February 15, 2014
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