Justin Amash Considering 2020 Presidential Bid

According to a post on his Twitter account Monday, Justin Amash, an Independent congressman from Michigan, is considering a 2020 presidential run.  Amash was previously a member of the Republican Party but left over disagreements with President Donald Trump.  He is often associated with the Libertarian Party and is expected to make a run for the party’s nomination if he chooses to begin a campaign.

During President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force Press Conference on Monday at which Trump stated he had the authority to reopen states that issued stay-at-home orders, Amash tweeted:

Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option.

Twitter user Hannah Cox replied:

Please be you.

To which, Amash responded:

Thanks. I’m looking at it closely this week.

If Amash enters the Libertarian race he will join a crowded field that includes 2012 vice presidential nominee Judge Jim Gray, Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger, 1996 vice presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen, antiwar activist Adam Kokesh, former Libertarian National Committee vice chair Arvin Vohra, performance artist Vermin Supreme, software engineer Dan Behrman, former Coast Guard officer Ken Armstrong, and former Grady County (Georgia) NAACP president John Monds.

The party is expected to nominate a ticket at the May 21–25 National Convention in Austin, Texas.  However, with large gatherings shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic,  different arrangements might be made. According to paulie on the Open Thread, a Zoom meeting of party officials is scheduled to take place May 2 to discuss possible changes to the National Convention.

36 thoughts on “Justin Amash Considering 2020 Presidential Bid

  1. William Saturn Post author

    Amash is not taking a libertarian position in attacking President Trump for saying the President can end stay-at-home orders. These orders violate individual rights protected in the Bill of Rights. The 14th Amendment’s incorporation of the Bill of Rights to the states renders these orders unconstitutional. Therefore, what Amash is attacking Trump for is actually Trump’s claim of authority to restore individual rights over states’ rights. Amash is defending states’ rights over individual rights. That is not a libertarian argument.

  2. dL

    Amash is not taking a libertarian position in attacking President Trump for saying the President can end stay-at-home orders.

    Actually, what Trump claimed was total, plenary authority to decide whatever he wanted to decide.Today, it could be open it up. Tomorrow, he could listen to Benito Fauci and instead order a 2 year rolling lockdown across all 50 states. The discretion of the praetor maximus.

  3. William Saturn Post author

    If you take it out of context that’s right. But he was specifically referring, at least on Monday, to having states reopen, meaning the lifting of stay-at-home orders. That’s what Amash was reacting to. I’m not suggesting Trump intended to make it about restoring individual rights but that is what the effect would be.

  4. dL

    If you take it out of context that’s right. But he was specifically referring, at least on Monday, to having states reopen, meaning the lifting of stay-at-home orders. That’s what Amash was reacting to.

    I believe he was reacting to the declaration of praetor maximus itself, regardless of context.

  5. Mario Mariotti

    It’s too late for him to be a serious candidate for presidency, as it is already the middle of April in 2020. For him to desire an entry into the race at this point; is to be a deterrent and spoiler of the hard work put into it thus far, from those whom planned ahead.

  6. NewFederalist

    Rep. Amash is such a tease! There was a time I would have been enthusiastic about him coming to the LP. I think he has waited too long and now probably figures he cannot win re-election to the House as an independent. I guess the LP presidential nomination looks pretty good now. I would ask him this: why didn’t you just switch from Republican to Libertarian last July 4th?

  7. Bondurant

    As of 1/31 ballot status has been attained in 35 + DC. Does anyone know if any other states have been secured since. A tough fight ahead with COVID-19 restrictions. I am not sure what the deadline is to gain access but Amash might have enough popularity to help with the endeavor.

  8. paulie

    As of 1/31 ballot status has been attained in 35 + DC. Does anyone know if any other states have been secured since. A tough fight ahead with COVID-19 restrictions.

    Connecticut – I’m not sure if it’s official yet but it looks like there is a deal to have the LP on for all statewide offices without having to petition. Maryland looks like it may be set to reduce the requirement to the point where it may be much more achievable with what the LP already has. Several other states are either asking their state governments to allow e-sigs or suing about it, or to lower the requirements, etc.

    I am not sure what the deadline is to gain access but Amash might have enough popularity to help with the endeavor.

    Different deadline in each state. The latest are in August. There used to be some in early September, and still may be, but there may not be any of those left as they have been pushed earlier in a lot of states recently. Ballot Access News has a chart every few months, or every month as the election gets closer.

  9. paulie

    Amash is not taking a libertarian position in attacking President Trump for saying the President can end stay-at-home orders. These orders violate individual rights protected in the Bill of Rights.

    Apparently Trump doesn’t think so. His subsequently released plan for reopening leaves a lot up to the states, and certainly doesn’t say all such closures are categorically unconstitutional. In fact it says some may be reimposed as circumstances dictate in the future. Trump also repeatedly said it was up to the states as states were issuing the restrictions.

    The issue at hand isn’t some categoric federal defense of individual rights against states but a turf war over a massive centrally planned partial/gradual/piecemeal loosening of some regulations, and who is in charge of the details – federal government or states. As such, the federal bureaucracy is more unwieldy, has more layers of red tape, and is further removed from any given area’s problems to gauge or respond to them.

  10. William Saturn Post author

    I’m talking about what the effect would be of the power Trump claimed to have in stopping showdown orders. I am arguing that he does, in fact, have that power and that exercising it would be the proper libertarian position since it would secure individual rights.

  11. paulie

    Trump himself walked that back since then. And, again, he isn’t planning to exercise any sweeping power to stop shutdown orders. What he claimed in reality was that he had total authority over the complex process of reopening. It would be a complex process of reopening regardless of whether it’s managed by states or the federal regime. That’s a far cry from your sweeping rhetoric or what it suggests. Trump’s reopening guidelines also mention the possibility some things may have to be shut down again. It’s clear that what he was pushing for was the power to make all the decisions in either direction, and that he has had to walk that back, probably after conferring with his legal advisors, political strategists or both.

  12. paulie

    It might be if the choice was as William presented it. But in the real world it’s not a matter of Trump asserting his absolute authority, before he walked it back, to stop the states from trampling on individual rights. It’s more like Trump asserting his hoped for authority to dominate a gigantic byzantine mess of local, state, regional and federal reopening, partial reopening and reclosing orders, as opposed to governors and local officials making those same decisions. Individuals are trampled regardless.

    With Trump, it’s never about individual rights. See for instance his long held and often stated views on eminent domain. It’s always about his authority and being the center of everything. That’s why stimulus checks are having to have his name printed in the memo line (he tried for the signature line but that didn’t fly) even if it makes some of them late. It’s who he always was, putting his name everywhere possible, etc. The only individual whose rights matter to Trump is Trump, or perhaps a friend of Trump. Otherwise it’s “waterboarding doesn’t go far enough,” “I wouldn’t rule out a nuclear first strike,” telling cops to rough up more suspects, promoting a war criminal SEAL, and countless other examples.

    Another thing about Trump is that he can switch on a dime and pretend like he had never said the opposite of what he says in the next breath. So whenever it’s to his advantage to argue that we need more lockdowns he’ll do that, and pretend he never said otherwise. That’s why putting total authority in his hands is a very, very bad idea. Right now he pretends he never said there would never be a problem with this virus in the US, even though he did, plainly, many times.

    Supposing he really did have the authority to reopen everything all at once and actually did that; suppose then the virus started spreading exponentially again. It would be some time before the reported case totals and deaths started catching up due to the lag but by then virus spreads exponentially several times over. At this point I can easily imagine Trump using his total authority to lock everything down, and maybe indefinitely postpone the election to boot. There may not be any choice, as NYC level death totals (or worse) explode all over the country.

    Right now he wants to be seen as the guy who is pushing to let business resume. But it’s not particularly surprising that he doesn’t want the responsibility for what happens next. The way his reopening guidelines came out, he can split the difference and paint himself as the good guy who pushed for reopening and blame Governors for when things don’t go well. As he said himself…he takes zero responsibility.

  13. NewFederalist

    “With Trump, it’s never about individual rights.” – paulie

    You sure got that right!

  14. wolfefan

    Paulie is exactly right. Trump’s claim was that he as President had total authority over state decisions. I see no way to reconcile this with either a libertarian or a Constitutional position.

  15. William Saturn Post author

    Actions don’t match the words taken out of context. Trump would not want to keep states closed. It would not be beneficial to him politically. Regardless of his motives, opening up the states would allow for more liberty. This is a good thing. Becoming upset at the president for wanting to exercise his power in a way that would increase liberty is not a libertarian response.

  16. paulie

    Actions don’t match the words taken out of context. Trump would not want to keep states closed.

    In context: https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica

    It would not be beneficial to him politically.

    That’s debatable. What’s beneficial to him one minute may not be the next. If opening up states causes a massive increase in cases, by the time they start showing up it may be beneficial to him to close everything down more than before. Or it may be beneficial to him to open some areas vis a vis others depending on whether they support him politically, or whether governors praise him, or whatever reasons. It benefits him politically to wield that power. That’s the only constant.

  17. dL

    Regardless of his motives, opening up the states would allow for more liberty.

    I agree. Same with respect to opening up the imaginary lines around countries. Abridgment of liberty in the latter always leads to the same with respect to the former.

  18. paulie

    Agreed on borders. The limiting of freedom of movement, migration and commerce between states, counties and cities, or even smaller units, is just an extension of the same bad logic that leads to thinking it’s a good idea between countries. Eventually when goods and workers and consumers/tourists/visitors can’t cross borders, armies (or gangs at the smaller scale) will.

    As for the “absolute power” thing here is what it’s about in reality, as opposed to fantasy world where he just wants individual rights: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/trump-coronavirus-ukraine-governors.html

    Trump put the squeeze on Zelensky in a phone call last July. “We do a lot for Ukraine,” he said. He complained that the relationship wasn’t “reciprocal,” and he asked for a “favor.” Today, Trump talks the same way about governors who plead for masks, ventilators, and coronavirus tests. “It’s a two-way street,” he told Fox News on March 24. “They have to treat us well also.” On March 27, as the death toll from the virus rose, Trump demanded that governors be more “appreciative.” On April 2, he issued a warning to those who expressed disappointment in him. “I guess they assume I don’t watch them,” he said. “But I watch very closely.”*

    For the most part, Trump has gotten what he wanted. In conference calls, governors have praised and thanked him for sending supplies to fight the virus. They sound like Zelensky, who, in his phone call with Trump, sucked up to get aid. Trump brags about the praise he gets from governors, in the same way he still brags about the praise he got from Zelensky. “Some of you were at the call yesterday where I spoke with the governors,” Trump boasted to reporters on March 20. “Every one of them was very impressed with what we’ve done.”

    When Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, extorted Zelensky, they had a specific request. They wanted Zelensky to announce an investigation of Trump’s likely opponent in the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump hasn’t sought such an explicit quid pro quo from the governors. But when they give him the praise he demands, he uses that praise the same way he had hoped to use the announcement from Zelensky: to hurt Biden and help himself. “Joe Biden has a Democratic problem,” Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters at the White House on March 26. “He’s got the Democratic governors of the two largest states, Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo, collaborating with and complimenting the White House’s efforts.” On Monday, Trump used the daily White House coronavirus briefing to air a campaign-style video of Cuomo, Newsom, and other governors thanking him for aid.

  19. paulie

    Perhaps not. He’s playing a game. If he has “total authority” and cares about individual rights, he wouldn’t need to tell people to protest at state capitols; after all he is the decider and he can just open those states up, right? So clearly he doesn’t have total authority, or he does not care about individual rights. My guess is that he neither has total authority nor does he care about individual rights. He wants to virtue signal to his supporters that he is on their side and direct anger at the governors rather than himself or the federal government. As usual he talks out of both sides of his mouth, putting out his step by step plan and at the same time ignoring it to tell people to protest at capitols.

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/17/opinions/trump-strategy-to-shift-blame-on-coronavirus-and-economy-lockhart/index.html

    It was all a dog whistle of sorts to his supporters that accomplished a couple of things at once: It suggested to them that it was OK to move away from social-distancing practices, designed to stem the tide of Covid-19, and get back to a more normal life. And it also told them that if they stuck with social distancing, any suffering and inconvenience they experience is not Trump’s fault because he gets them, they speak the same language, he feels their pain.

    And that messaging is illustrative of the President’s overall strategy to get reelected. He’s given himself maximum flexibility to take credit for whatever goes right and maximum ability to deflect or shift any blame for whatever goes wrong.

    The strategy is part of the dizzying turnaround from the President’s position earlier in the week, when he told reporters he had absolute authority, adding “the President of the United States calls the shots.”

    Thursday’s briefing brought a significant change in tune, with the President bestowing upon the governors wide authority, reporting that he had told them in a conference call they now call the shots. That was less a constitutional climbdown and more a reflection of the President managing his political situation and strategy.

    The strategy is brilliant in its simplicity. The governors now take the responsibility of all public health decisions in their states as well as when and how to reopen the economy– including schools, large gatherings, even professional sports. If they open too soon and the virus spikes in a significant way, they alone are responsible. If they open too slowly, and the economy contracts even further and unemployment continues to rise, they will also have to answer for that.

    After blaming almost everyone under the sun for the position we are in, and taking no responsibility himself, the President now has engineered a safer political environment where he cedes his leadership in return for being critic-in-chief.

    The only unknown is what he’ll be campaigning against and when he’ll get going on it. But it’s very easy to see him entering the fall saying “we moved too quickly/we moved too slowly against my own better judgment.”

    This approach offers a potentially potent weapon against his presumptive opponent, Joe Biden. The former vice president has been clear that reopening the country too soon is a recipe for disaster But if, by chance, an earlier reopening in some states does not cause a reemergence of the spread of Covid-19, while at the same time other large state economies are slow to reopen, the President will hammer his opponent for causing economic hardship across the country.

    All of this strategy is based on the public’s buying into the idea that we’ve done enough testing already –the truth is the country is woefully lagging — or that the additional testing needs to be done by the states, which they currently are ill-equipped to do.

  20. paulie

    No, they can’t. If the shutdowns are an unconstitutional abridgement of rights and he has total authority to end them it’s his duty to do so immediately. If he fails to do so he’s shirking his duty and enabling violations of individual rights. It’s simply not logically possible that he cares about individual rights, has absolute authority, issues step by step conditional reopening guidelines one day, makes those tweets a couple of days later – it doesn’t add up.

    Notice also that the tweets are only at three of 40-something states which have shutdown orders. It’s not even like they are the only states where protests against those orders are happening. They are happening all over the place, even here in Alabama. Those happen to be swing states with Democratic governors. He wants to project the image of “total authority” and “wartime president” while at the same time not doing much of anything decisive and taking, as he said, “zero responsibility.” Apparently you think he can have it both ways, but I don’t. There’s no such thing as total authority with zero responsibility. Trump wants that. But it doesn’t exist, and can’t exist.

    BTW, if he cares so much about individual rights, aside from issuing his step by step plan, why did he sign the trillions of dollars in redistribution instead of vetoing it? What about the individual rights of everyone who will be paying the bill for that? Rather than veto it, he has called for more of the same, including a massive infrastructure plan, pork for his favorite industries, and much more. President “total authority/zero responsibility” loves nothing so much as the power to dole out tax money to his favorite corporate toadies in exchange for praise while punishing those not kissing his ass enough. He takes the same attitude with governors and even foreign countries. It’s, again, who he has always been.

  21. NewFederalist

    This is a tough one. Paulie has always despised Trump and William Saturn has always been favorably disposed toward him. I personally cannot stand Trump because he is a narcissist, a bully and a bloviator. On the other hand, I cannot stand Biden because he is demented, a misogynist (as is Trump) and a total jerk on 2nd Amendment issues (not the Trump is a whole lot better). As usual another completely horrible choice between the two dominant party likely nominees! Please Libertarian Party give us a truly principled choice this time!

  22. paulie

    I personally cannot stand Trump because he is a narcissist, a bully and a bloviator.

    Agreed.

    On the other hand, I cannot stand Biden because he is demented, a misogynist (as is Trump) and a total jerk on 2nd Amendment issues (not the Trump is a whole lot better).

    Agreed again. Among other reasons to not like Biden. And Trump is not better on 2nd Amendment. His rhetoric is better, but in reality he actually has an easier time eroding it because when the president is a Democrat the Republicans at least pretend to sit up on their hind legs and be vigilant about gun rights. When the president is a Republican they just roll over and play dead.

    As usual another completely horrible choice between the two dominant party likely nominees!

    That’s pretty much a given, as is getting worse with each successive round.

    Please Libertarian Party give us a truly principled choice this time!

    That’s become less and less likely over the years as well. Maybe we’ll luck out this year, but somehow I doubt it.

  23. William Saturn Post author

    I can’t defend everything he’s done but even if Trump wanted to veto the $2 trillion, Congress would override it. Amash is not attacking Trump for the things you mention. Amash is attacking Trump for a statement, whether contradictory or not, about having the authority to end unconstitutional shutdowns. Amash apparently thinks states can do whatever they want because of the 10th Amendment. This is wrong.

  24. paulie

    I can’t defend everything he’s done

    I’m not sure, but that may be a first.

    even if Trump wanted to veto the $2 trillion, Congress would override it.

    Granted. So make them override it. For one thing it would put him on the record; for another it would ensure that too many things which don’t have overwhelming support would not be in there. But Trump did not just sign it; he cheered it on and has called for more of the same.

    Amash is not attacking Trump for the things you mention.

    I’m pretty sure he did criticize the bailout. I read that he threatened to force a vote as well, but obviously he ultimately did not. I don’t know why, however.

    Amash is attacking Trump for a statement, whether contradictory or not, about having the authority to end unconstitutional shutdowns.

    Trump’s statement said nothing whatsoever about him thinking the shutdowns are unconstitutional. His other statements before and since show he does not think they are. He did say he had total authority, so in the context of him not believing such orders are unconstitutional, it would mean he would have total authority not just to end shutdowns but also to impose them. As I said earlier, I think it was this “total authority” that Amash responded to. In some other universe where Trump actually said and showed he believed they are categorically unconstitutional and he has total authority to end them the dilemma you present might play out. But that’s not the universe we live in.

  25. William Saturn Post author

    I added “unconstitutional.” Whether Trump believes it is or not really doesn’t matter. If Amash wants to maximize liberty then he should endorse Trump’s action to end the shutdown. He doesn’t. He said he believes in federalism. This does not maximize liberty.

    In my opinion, Trump has the authority to end the shutdowns like President Eisenhower had the authority to enforce desegregation. It’s a matter of individual rights. The 14th Amendment applies the bill of rights to the actions of states and local governments. However, Trump does not have the authority to impose shutdowns on states. He hasn’t tried and won’t. If he did, Amash would be correct, in a libertarian sense, to criticize him. That’s not what happened.

  26. paulie

    I added “unconstitutional.” Whether Trump believes it is or not really doesn’t matter.

    It matters because it adds context to “total authority.”

    If Amash wants to maximize liberty then he should endorse Trump’s action to end the shutdown.

    Except Trump has taken no such actions. Tweets to three states to engage in protests are a long way from total authority. Amash did state that Whitmer’s orders go too far and can spur a backlash.

    He said he believes in federalism. This does not maximize liberty.

    That’s debatable. There are reams of libertarian debates on that topic, including in the archives here among many other places.

    However, Trump does not have the authority to impose shutdowns on states. He hasn’t tried and won’t. I

    There’s no way to know that. Above, I’ve spelled out what I think are plausible scenarios under which he might.

    If he did, Amash would be correct, in a libertarian sense, to criticize him. That’s not what happened.

    He criticized Trump for saying he has total authority. Other statements before and since demonstrate that authority, if it were actually enforced, could be used in more than one direction.

  27. dL

    Perhaps individual rights are his motive:

    Given that Trump just issued an executive order suspending all movement across imaginary lines, no. Trump has no respect for the freedom of association.

  28. paulie

    https://jacobforliberty.com/2020/03/donald-trump-a-disaster-of-a-central-planner/

    https://jacobforliberty.com/2020/03/donald-trump-our-dictatorial-president/

    https://jacobforliberty.com/2020/03/meanwhile-trump-is-wreaking-death-and-destruction-in-somalia/

    https://jacobforliberty.com/2020/03/stimulus-loot-for-the-rich-and-powerful/

    https://jacobforliberty.com/2020/03/donald-trumps-banality-of-evil/

    https://jacobforliberty.com/2020/03/donald-trump-bad-central-planner-for-the-economy-and-for-the-coronavirus/

  29. Paulie

    LOL

    His idea of the constitution is total authority for the president in all things any time, with or without crisis. Mandatory bleach injections, anyone?

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