Did Justin Amash Become a Libertarian Party Lifetime Member?

According to Ballot Access News unverified rumors suggest Independent Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan purchased a lifetime membership in the Libertarian Party in preparation for a 2020 presidential bid.

A Libertarian Party lifetime membership requires a payment of $1,500 within a twelve month period.  LP.org lists 2,654 lifetime members including former Congressman Ron Paul, former Congressman Bob Barr, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, and former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee. Amash is not currently on the list.

Of Amash’s potential 2020 opponents, 2012 vice presidential nominee Judge Jim Gray, 1996 vice presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen, and anti-war activist Adam Kokesh are all lifetime members.  Attorney Jacob Hornberger, performance artist Vermin Supreme, and former LNC vice chairman Arvin Vohra are not lifetime members.

50 thoughts on “Did Justin Amash Become a Libertarian Party Lifetime Member?

  1. paulie

    I’m not sure how quickly the list is updated. If he just joined it may not have made it on there yet. That’s not to say he did or did not.

  2. Thomas Knapp

    Upon hearing these rumors, I asked an LP staffer or official who would be in a position to know if this was true (I’m obfuscating for purposes of preserving that person’s anonymity).

    Answer: No comment — not just on Amash, but on the membership status of any particular individual who hasn’t chosen to publicly disclose said status.

  3. paulie

    Correct, the list is supposed to be secret. I’m not sure if the policy of publishing life members names complies with all of their expectations. I’m happy to disclose I’m a life member, as are many other people, but others may not have realized it would mean their names would be listed on the website.

  4. Thomas Knapp

    The list of lifetime members is public as a matter of law. Contributions of more than $200 in a year have to be reported to the FEC, and anyone can look up those contributions.

    But, if Amash became a lifetime member after the end of March, they won’t show up on an FEC report until after the end of June.

  5. paulie

    The list of lifetime members is public as a matter of law. Contributions of more than $200 in a year have to be reported to the FEC, and anyone can look up those contributions.

    How far back do FEC records go? Some of the life members joined in the 1970s. I believe I read life membership was $300 in the late 1980s so for some it may have been below the FEC threshold if it was before then.

  6. paulie

    Became life member in April, wants Presidential nomination in less than 60 days?

    At this point anyone who knows the answer to the first part isn’t telling. And no one may know the answer to the second. 60 days is also unclear, as there is a lot of talk of moving it to July. But that’s a technicality; in the event that the rumors are true, I think the thrust of your point is correct. He wouldn’t be my choice for the nomination. However, I think he’ll get it anyway, if he wants it.

  7. NewFederalist

    I don’t mind if he wants to become a life member of the Libertarian Party but I really hope he doesn’t go after the presidential nomination. I think I understand why despite being a registered Libertarian I keep getting mailings from the national as well as state and local Republicans. Everyone just assumes we are the triple A affiliate of the major league GOP. This has got to stop sometime. 2020 is a good time!

  8. Bondurant

    I’d prefer to see Amash seek the LP nomination in ’24. Campaign the full cycle, help the party attain ballot access in all 50 states + DC.

  9. paulie

    Hopefully he would change his conservative views on a number of social issues and some foreign policy during that time as well. Although this is all premature speculation at this point.

  10. George Phillies

    We might nominate Amash, but at some point it would then become clear that our party is a joke, and not a funny one, either. Certainly I would not be sending any more money in the LPs direction.

  11. Jared

    Amash would be the only high-profile defector from the GOP in recent years who convincingly identifies as a libertarian, has some idea of what the philosophy is about, and applies that idea consistently. If you listen to his old interviews, he always viewed the Republican Party instrumentally as the best path forward to achieve libertarian or constitutionalist policy goals; he bailed when it became abundantly clear that was no longer the case. Still, if Amash is going to seek the LP nomination for President, he should sit out this election cycle and work within the party for a few years before taking the plunge.

    I know Dr. Phillies sees Amash’s stance on restricting abortion as a dealbreaker and anyone with pro-life sympathies as a right-wing sociopath, but I don’t think most of the party is as hostile and absolutist on this issue–even if polarized like the rest of the country.

  12. Thomas Knapp

    “I don’t think most of the party is as hostile and absolutist on this issue”

    The LP nominated pro-life presidential candidates in 1988, 1996, 2000, and 2008 that I know of right offhand.

    2004 was an odd case in that the nominee was pro-life (“from conception”) six months before the nomination, middle of the road (“brain activity” as the dividing point) three months before the convention, and pro-choice six weeks after the convention.

  13. dL

    The LP nominated pro-life presidential candidates in 1988, 1996, 2000, and 2008 that I know of right offhand.

    Pro-life generally means supports government prohibition of abortion. I believe Browne’s position was more like personally opposed, no role for government either way. That’s not Amash’s position. Amash is to the right of Pat Roberston on government edicts vis a vis abortion.

  14. Thomas Knapp

    You may be correct that Harry supported the LP’ s bizarre “don’t bother to call the police if Eric Rudolph shows up with an Uzi, we don’t support the government being involved in the issue — and don’t point out that that’s what our platform says, if it says anything at all, because we want to pretend we’re pro-choice and not have it pointed out that we’re really just being cowards” position.

  15. dL

    pretend we’re pro-choice and not have it pointed out that we’re really just being cowards

    Well, yeah, I think

    “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”

    is a more namby pamby way to say:

    “Recognizing that each person must be the sole and absolute owner of his or her own body, we support the right of women to make a personal choice regarding the termination of pregnancy.”

  16. Thomas Knapp

    Namby pamby enough that its content is either meaningless OR says the LP is OK with George Tiller being assassinated.

    The consensus on the platform committee the last two terms has been “fuck no, we would be burned at the stake for proposing any change to the existing plank.” I agree with that consensus but that doesn’t mean I like it. Instead of being pro-choice or pro-life, the LP just pretends to have a position when it doesn’t. I’d rather it either had a position or didn’t pretend to.

  17. George Phillies

    “I know Dr. Phillies sees Amash’s stance on restricting abortion as a dealbreaker and anyone with pro-life sympathies as a right-wing sociopath, but I don’t think most of the party is as hostile and absolutist on this issue–even if polarized like the rest of the country.”

    anyone with pro-life…somewhat overstated.

    We have a segment of our party that believes in self ownership, except for pregnant women, who are believed to be slaves.

  18. dL

    the LP just pretends to have a position when it doesn’t.

    No, the current plank retains a position that at least imposes a litmus test RE: government prohibition. It is not as strong as earlier versions, but it is a position.

  19. Paulie

    The current plank didn’t exist when Browne ran. It was much more unambiguous then. You can find old platforms by year on lpedia. As for Browne he said if government outlaws abortion men would start having them. If he made excuses for Rudolph that is news to me. Even with my early onset senility I don’t think I would forget that yet.

    Aside from libertarian and constitutionalist being two different things and the nsgop being far from either since it began its existence and further and further long before amash left it, see hornberger`s recent series on some but not all of the other issues with amash.

  20. Paulie

    88: lp extracted a promise from Ron Paul he would not run on the abortions issue in exchange for the nomination and that he would make clear his position differed from the party’s if asked. I’ve been told he stuck to his promise. Amash would face no such hurdle with today’s watered down party, unfortunately.

  21. dL

    hornberger`s recent series on some but not all of the other issues with amash.

    From what I can tell, Hornberger is only slightly less confused than Amash on the subject of self-ownership and reproductive rights

  22. Thomas Knapp

    As long as “reproductive rights” isn’t front and center in a campaign, I ignore a candidate’s position on it.

    If “reproductive rights” is front and center in a campaign, I either ignore or oppose the candidate and the campaign as well.

  23. Paulie

    Yes, I said other issues not related to abortion or reproductive rights . What wasn’t clear?

  24. dL

    If “reproductive rights” is front and center in a campaign, I either ignore or oppose the candidate and the campaign as well.

    Given Amash’s position on the matter, It should be a front and center opposition research issue for his libertarian opponents

  25. Thomas Knapp

    “Given Amash’s position on the matter, It should be a front and center opposition research issue for his libertarian opponents”

    I’d rather not have reason to ignore and/or oppose his libertarian opponents, but that’s up to them.

  26. Ryan

    Outsider comment from a person that voted for Badnarik in 2004 and Johnson in 2016 due to a lack of other good options on my ballot. For November, I’m either voting Biden (I hate Trump), the Libertarian (only other party that can get on the Indiana ballot), or writing in Rocky De La Fuente not because I think that much of him but because I’m thinking of throwing my support to the Alliance Party:

    1. Amash is the best candidate the Libertarians could put forward. None of the other smorgasbord of candidates have done anything either in their political careers or in the nascent Libertarian presidential campaign to make themselves appear any more credible or less of a gadfly than say Badnarik, the last time the party nominated a gadfly versus someone with real political experience and the worst showing of the party post-Andre Marrou.
    2. The Libertarians’ greatest growth potential is from grabbing voters and politicians that believe in small limited government but think the Republican Party has left that ideology, which it has under this current president. Amash vs. Trump – a guy by the way that voted for Trump’s impeachment – is as excellent a foil as you can ask for to make that argument.
    3. I know some of the online Libertarians that post in places like this one were upset with Johnson a bit after 2016. He probably could’ve done a little better but his vote more than tripled the past best-ever performance of the party. Amash is a currently-serving member of Congress – something I’m not sure the Libertarian Party has ever had (Ron Paul was a Republican Party member) – which gives him a platform to speak on that no past Libertarian Party presidential nominee has ever had. If he retains half the Johnson vote, it shows the party is growing and would still be the 2nd-best presidential showing of the party ever. Nominate Hornberger or Vermin Supreme or any of these other non-entities, you’re back to 0.5% specials.

  27. Jared

    GP: “We have a segment of our party that believes in self ownership, except for pregnant women, who are believed to be slaves.”

    Not the most charitable characterization…. Sure, pro-choicers think the pro-life cause is complicit, wittingly or unwittingly, in enslaving pregnant women, and pro-lifers think the pro-choice cause is complicit, wittingly or unwittingly, in the murder of unborn children. Neither result is okay, and you aren’t ever going to satisfy all libertarian consciences. The “safer” position to secure rights in the face of uncertainty might be no government involvement, or it might be to err on the side of defending the most vulnerable lives from acts of aggression. Who’s speaks for libertarianism?

    The current plank does advance a position, a radical one, even while trying hard to sound neutral or above the fray. Officially, abortion must be legal at all stages, under all circumstances, without condition or restriction. The majority of people who identify as pro-choice are not so liberal. To dissenters, it sounds like the plank is saying either, “We can’t comment on the ethics of abortion, but we are confident it never violates anyone’s rights,” or “Even if abortion can violate natural rights, and even if government exists to uphold such rights, it’s a special class of violation exempt from just interference.”

  28. Thomas Knapp

    “None of the other smorgasbord of candidates have done anything either in their political careers or in the nascent Libertarian presidential campaign to make themselves appear any more credible or less of a gadfly than say Badnarik”

    That’s a weird claim. If you’re talking about having served in political office, at least one candidate other than Amash has done that. If you’re talking about something else, what is it that you’re babbling about?

  29. Paulie

    I was replying to dL@ 1357. Your comment that came in between was not on my screen.

  30. dL

    or it might be to err on the side of defending the most vulnerable lives from acts of aggression

    Given that only 1/3 of embryos successfully attach to the uterine wall, the “error on the side of caution” approach would be a ban on sex by government edict. You know, if you are going start with a premise that government is in the embryo protection racket.

    Who’s speaks for libertarianism?

    I dunno, but you got do better than, hey, I can move my lips.

  31. dL

    Now that I cleared that up, my question still sTands.

    Well, Justin Amash is not a libertarian. I’m not aware of any issue Amash actually holds a libertarian position on. At best, he’s a guy who apparently mistook a klan meeting(Tea Party) for a limited government revival. His claim to fame is that he broke with the Trump cult to impeach Trump for lying to internal state security because Trump’s real crimes(war crimes and crimes against humanity) are off the table. Of course, those are off the table because those crimes are a permanent fixture of the office itself. To condemn Trump for that would condemn the government as a war criminal enterprise.

    So, Amash is a low bar.

    Hornberger, AFAIK, is straight forward libertarian on most issues, with the exception of abortion, where he appears to be somewhat of a dixiecrat. A nitpick gripe I have with him is that he holds a conservative view of the welfare state, not a libertarian one. That erroneous view often leads him to fairy tale the past RE: laissez faire America. I watched a few of his recent videos, including the immigration one. Hornberger holds the correct view on immigration(hooray!), but he is having less success convincing his followers. So watching his stuff only serves to remind how much a miserable failure libertarian education has been.

  32. paulie

    My original comment: hornberger`s recent series on some but not all of the other issues with amash.

    Your reply: From what I can tell, Hornberger is only slightly less confused than Amash on the subject of self-ownership and reproductive rights

    P: I agree, but Hornberger’s series was about a whole host of other issues, so I was confused why the reply to that was about abortion-related issues.

    I’m not aware of any issue Amash actually holds a libertarian position on.

    That on the other hand seems rather extreme. You believe he’s an across the board authoritarian?

    broke with the Trump cult to impeach Trump for lying to internal state security

    No, that was not why Trump was impeached. He was impeached for A) acting as a dictator – deciding to attach conditions to money approved by congress and signed, not vetoed, by himself B) surreptitiously C) to tilt the US presidential election to himself and against his likely main opponent D) through the intervention of a foreign government E) exacted by his use of said leverage, outside of any legal process F) covering it up by illegally withholding witnesses and documents from congress, violating separation of powers.

    These actions had both precedents (stemming from his and his campaign’s actions in the 2016 election and evolving into his coverup of those, using the same stonewalling tactics he has used since) and subsequent manifestations (interference in his friends’ legal cases, illegally diverting money for his wall, shaking down states and businesses for coronavirus related funds, etc). All of this has been tied throughout to his personal financial as well as political gain.

    These are the very things impeachment was written to cover – bribery/extortion, foreign interference in the US election process, destruction of separation of powers, personal financial enrichment through government office. These are all steps to a corrupt dictatorship, manifesting time and again in many foreign nations throughout history.

    Trump openly admires those dictators and makes no secret that he seeks to follow that same path. He’s still not as far down that path as many of them, but doing everything he can to march us down it. He has learned from past practitioners as well as current ones, and worked together with them in what amounts to a counterliberal international alliance (liberal as in liberal democracy and classical liberalism rather than as a hijacked and now largely but not entirely abandoned synonym from progressive).

    So, while it’s true that his impeachment was far short of covering all his crimes, it did cover real crimes that went far above and beyond merely lying to state security. These crimes were part of a serial pattern that seeks to establish a corrupt dictatorship in alliance with an international alliance of corrupt dictators and those seeking to establish corrupt dictatorships. This was exactly why impeachment was created. Unfortunately that design didn’t adequately anticipate a corrupt senate ruled by the president’s party which doesn’t even pretend to hold a fair trial.

    While there are many good reasons to criticize Amash’s record, I don’t see that as one of them.

  33. paulie

    At best, he’s a guy who apparently mistook a klan meeting(Tea Party) for a limited government revival.

    Even in its current state of predictable degeneration into trumpery cultism the Tea Party is still a ways from the KKK. It was further from that when it started as an attempt at conservative-libertarian fusionism – which I’ll agree mix about as well as oil and water, although people keep trying no matter how many times it fails. Of course it was coopted from the start. But that doesn’t make it into the KKK. No doubt there’s some overlap, but that’s sort of like blaming all Muslims for extremist terrorists.

    From what I can tell Amash’s record is also one of those conservative-libertarian fusionist projects which ultimately doesn’t help properly define libertarianism and therefore cuts it off from its natural base. But it doesn’t help to exaggerate the difference and say that it’s akin to KKK terrorism or unlibertarian on any and all issues. If you don’t give an opposing position its due and conflate it with others which are much worse it doesn’t help the credibility of your argument.

  34. paulie

    Hornberger, AFAIK, is straight forward libertarian on most issues, with the exception of abortion, where he appears to be somewhat of a dixiecrat.

    That sounds about right.

    A nitpick gripe I have with him is that he holds a conservative view of the welfare state, not a libertarian one.

    How so? What do you believe a libertarian view of the welfare state is?

    leads him to fairy tale the past RE: laissez faire America.

    True, and unfortunate.

    Hornberger holds the correct view on immigration(hooray!), but he is having less success convincing his followers. So watching his stuff only serves to remind how much a miserable failure libertarian education has been.

    Agreed. He’s too close to the Rothbard-Rockwell-Paul cult but relatively better than them on immigration and partisanship, and perhaps some other issues. But as I said he’s not among my favorite candidates for the nomination. I only mentioned him in the context that he substantively criticizes Amash on a wide variety of issues and grounds that go well above and beyond abortion.

  35. dL

    P: I agree, but Hornberger’s series was about a whole host of other issues, so I was confused why the reply to that was about abortion-related issues.

    Well, because Amash’s anti-abortion extremism had become the gist of the discussion, and I wasn’t interested in changing the subject.

    That on the other hand seems rather extreme. You believe he’s an across the board authoritarian?

    I said he holds no libertarian position on any issue. He’ s a conservative.

    No, that was not why Trump was impeached.

    I’m not going to adjudicate that all over again. To me, it doesn’t matter. it’s equivalent to, “we, we can’t prosecute Hitler for war crimes, but we can get him for lying to the IRS.”

  36. paulie

    Well, because Amash’s anti-abortion extremism had become the gist of the discussion, and I wasn’t interested in changing the subject.

    I was, and therefore did. You replied by steering back to abortion. It’s not that it’s an insignificant issue, but to focus on nothing else is a rather obvious error.

    I said he holds no libertarian position on any issue.

    That seems rather hard to believe. Even mainstream Democrats and Republicans hold relatively libertarian positions on at least some issues. How do you arrive at the above conclusion?

    He’ s a conservative.

    He’s a fusionist, as best as I can tell. I’m not in favor of conservative-libertarian fusionism and have long expressed my opposition to it as counterproductive, but to deny that it has any libertarian elements at all just decreases the credibility of any criticism.

    To me, it doesn’t matter.

    We disagree, and I explained why. If you don’t what to address any of that, that’s fine.

    it’s equivalent to, “we, we can’t prosecute Hitler for war crimes, but we can get him for lying to the IRS.”

    Not even close, and I said why. Trump’s war crimes, at least as of now, are on the scale of recent US presidents, not on the scale of Hitler. His moves in a dictatorial direction, on the other hand, while not nearly as fast as Hitler’s due to more in the way of institutional barriers, is just as worrisome as those barriers get worn down more and more rapidly. If it continues to be unchecked it could well lead to Hitler level war crimes or worse. The impeachment was aimed at some of those moves. Its failure to result in removal, a real Senate trial or even a marginal public opinion victory has marched us further down that road.

    It’s more akin to impeaching Hitler early on, before he committed mass war crimes/genocide but after he destroyed many of the legal impediments to dictatorship, for the very actions which made a dictatorship possible.

  37. dL

    What do you believe a libertarian view of the welfare state is?

    The poor man’s plunder, or the right to relief, logically follows from the legal plunder of the capitalist class. Bastiat 101. So things like social security, TANF, SNAP etc are symptoms, not causes. A libertarian educated in the tradition should never say the United States was an exercise in laissez faire governance before the new deal. That’s like saying a sore throat causes the flu. And we have a whole history of 19th century libertarian scholarship to back that up. I mean the gist of a Benjamin Tucker, a lysander spooner was not:

    “All is well. Move along, nothing to see here except sugar plums and dandelions…”

  38. dL

    That seems rather hard to believe.

    Ok, he’s against the death penalty. So, I guess I sort of stand corrected.

  39. paulie

    Well, it’s true that there were many unlibertarian elements in 1800s USA. I disagree that the welfare state is justifiable as poor man’s plunder, or the right to relief. In reality it’s more of a poverty trap, and most of the money is extracted from across the income and wealth spectrum with much of it flowing to relatively well off bureaucrats. While it may seem to superficially help poor people it acts as more of a poverty trap than anything else. It also acts as a pressure valve and distraction, putting a coat of false glitter on the giant turd that is government taxation, spending and regulation as a whole and dampening demand for everything from voluntary charity to bottom up entrepreneurship to mutual aid to family and extended family cohesion to revolution. Social welfare greases the wheels of corporate welfare and the police-prison-military-espionage-industrial complex.

    Thus, if poor man’s relief is the goal, it ends up achieving the opposite.

    If e.g. Spooner ever argued for anything like a social welfare state I missed it or forgot. I don’t think it would fit with their radical categorical criticism of the state as an inherently destructive institution.

  40. paulie

    Ok, he’s against the death penalty. So, I guess I sort of stand corrected.

    So ….no other issues at all? Is that your final answer?

  41. Thomas Knapp

    “I disagree that the welfare state is justifiable as poor man’s plunder, or the right to relief. ”

    So does dL. Pointing out that damages will result in demands for relief isn’t the same thing as endorsing the demands for relief.

  42. paulie

    I may have misunderstood then. dL defended regulation as sometimes being a good thing back in March open thread, which I have been meaning to reply on. And I don’t know whether Amash disagrees that there are reasons why people would be justified in trying to seek relief; only that government attempting, allegedly, to provide said relief fails to solve the problem and only creates additional ones. It would of course be better if he applied such an analysis more consistently to all other problems government allegedly tries to solve.

  43. dL

    I disagree that the welfare state is justifiable as poor man’s plunder

    I wrote “logically follows,” not “justifiably follows.” And I’m merely citing monsieur Bastiat on the matter. I’m not sourcing myself.

    If e.g. Spooner ever argued for anything like a social welfare state I missed it or forgot.

    I missed where I said Lysander Spooner argued for a social welfare state. Wtf?

  44. dL

    I may have misunderstood then. dL

    ” a whole history of 19th century libertarian scholarship to back that up” pertains to the United States never being the laissez faire regime that Hornberger claimed it once was.

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