It is rather amusing watching partisan pundits trying to work out which side of the political equation Justin Amash will be a spoiler for in his libertarian bid for president. The answer is both sides. He’s genuinely a Ross Perot figure.
As far as I can tell, Amash has two main problems with Trump. First, Trump is the first “big government” conservative and Amash was one of the founding members of the Liberty Caucus (Tea Party) branch of the Republican Party. Second, Amash’s parents were Palestinian and Syrian Christians who immigrated to the United States to escape the problems happening in that region. He lives in a state that is full of immigrants from the Middle East. He took Trump’s call to ban people like his parents from entering the country personally.
Amash thus can appeal to two very angry groups of people: (1) Republicans looking at the coronavirus crisis and seeing the collapse of civil liberties and endless government bailouts, including bailouts of some of the worst rent-seeking personalities in the country, and (2) conservative Democrats who hate their party’s unrelenting shift toward the fringe and cringe whenever Biden throws his arm around a Beto or Abrams figure.
Amash is also 40 years old, which makes him an alternative to all the senior citizens running the country, who have produced the second financial crisis in 12 years and treat younger generations as their ATMs. Amash is the reasonable person who’s out there saying, you know what, it’s not okay to keep breaking the economy and slamming the cost on younger generations through endless debt bubbles and deficit spending. He is pro-environment and has no problem with the LGBTQ community, the two biggest legacy problems in the GOP. He’s against abortion, which makes him a home for any conservative Democrats who can’t stand watching Planned Parenthood’s PAC arm take over the Democratic Party. If you think people should be allowed to love whomever they want but also think late-term abortion is morally repulsive and that women should not be boasting about killing their offspring, you suddenly have a candidate.
Are you sick and tired of Washington? Are you sick and tired politicians’ egos when your entire life has been upended? These are compelling complaints for a not insignificant portion of the country right now. It’s not a matter of red versus blue so much as rich versus getting by / surviving, urban and corporate versus suburban and rural, old with benefits versus young without a safety net, rent-seeking versus disenfranchised. These are the people looking for a way out.
The guy has a ready-made constituency, and unlike stammering and senile Biden, he’s probably going to flatten Trump in a debate on the economy and civil liberties if such an event ever comes to pass. The fact of the matter is, Trump did not intervene when governors and mayors were picking which businesses got to operate and which got to go bankrupt. Trump did not intervene in the most powerful assault on religious liberty since colonial times. He was holding “Rona Rallies” and bragging about his ratings when 30 million people were put out of work. Under his watch, what started off as an effort to prop up ordinary Americans financially was transformed into pork spending central. His administration allowed a program for small businesses to be gutted by publicly traded companies. Biden’s a lost cause, but Trump is not without his vulnerabilities. This crisis has probably minted a lot of libertarians.