2020 Libertarian presidential candidate Jacob Hornberger, whom the readers of IPR previously interviewed, has started a series on his campaign blog about Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash. Amash is also running for the Libertarian presidential nomination. Parts 1 and 2 of Hornberger’s series were posted here. Part 3 was posted here. Parts 4 and 5 were posted here. Parts 6 and 7 were published here. Part 8 published yesterday, is posted below:
Part 8 – Play It Safe versus Going Bold
In Part 7 of this series, I addressed the interview that Congressman Justin Amash gave on MSNBC, specifically focusing on his plan to have the federal government give every American a monthly free check of $1,200 on an indefinite basis as long as the coronavirus crisis lasts.
I wish to delve more deeply into that interview because I believe it reveals a lot about the type of campaign that Amash would run if he were selected as our party’s nominee.
Amash was asked what his qualifications were to be president. He answered that he is a “determined” person, a “practical” person, and an “honest” person. When pressed, he said that this is about “democracy” — i.e., giving people more choices on who to vote for.
That’s not the way I see things at all. For me, this is all about liberty, not democracy. In fact, whenever any interviewer has asked me why I am running for the LP presidential nomination, my answer has been consistently the same: I want to be free, and I want everyone to be free. Freedom is what will lead us out of the morass into which both Democrats and Republicans have plunged our nation.
Now, I’m not saying that democracy is a bad thing. It is a good thing, but only in the sense that it enables people to change regimes without a violent revolution. Democracy is not freedom. In fact, the Bill of Rights expressly protects us from democracy.
I think it’s also revealing that during the interview, Amash did not even describe the virtues of libertarianism or even mention the Libertarian Party. I think the reason for that is that he isn’t accustomed to doing so given that he has been running for Congress for 10 years as a Republican and, as of the last year, an Independent.
Shifting gears, there is no doubt that Joe Biden and the Democrats are going to wage one of the nastiest campaigns in U.S. history against President Trump. It’s going to be a visceral, highly personal campaign. We have seen this during the past three years in liberal editorials, op-eds, speeches, websites, and social media. They are going to say that Trump is a rotten person, a liar, and worse. They are going to say that Joe Biden is a good person and, therefore, more qualified to be president.
A presidential campaign between Amash and Trump will be no different. There is tremendous personal animosity between these two men. Trump has already called Amash a “loser.” Amash, of course, joined up with Nanch Pelosi and the Democrats to try to remove Trump from office through impeachment, first based on the Robert Mueller report and then later on the basis of the “quid pro quo” with Ukraine. There is no doubt that an Amash-Trump political battle will be one great big food fight involving endless personal invectives. One thing is for sure: discussion of libertarian principles is going to be submerged and suppressed during that food fight.
Nonetheless, as we an see from the MSNBC interview, Amash’s general position will be much the same as Biden’s — that would make a better president than Trump because he is a “determined” person, an “honest” person, and a “practical” person.
All my adult life, I have heard this concept — that what we need to do to extricate America from the morass in which we find ourselves is just put “better people” in public office.
It’s a pipe dream. You could put the biggest saint and the most brilliant person in the world into the presidency and it wouldn’t make one bit of difference. That’s because we have a bad system, one foisted upon our land by both conservatives and liberals. When you have a bad system with good people, the bad system will always win out.
I have nothing personal against Trump. Sure, he has been a disaster as a president, but that’s not because he’s a bad person. It’s because he’s part of a bad system.
Why is the political-economic system under which we live a bad system? Because it is based on both conservatism and progressivism, two of the most morally and economically bankrupt philosophies known to man. These two phllosophies are actually nothing more than flip sides of the same coin. It is both conservatism and liberalism that have jointly given us the bad systems under which we live today.
This is what Amash can’t see, because he is a conservative. Granted, a libertarian-leaning conservative but a conservative nonetheless. He can’t see that it is both conservatism and progressivism that have destroyed liberty, peace, prosperity, health, and harmony in our land.
That’s what causes him to see himself as someone who, with his “determination,” “honesty,” and “practicality,” is more “qualified” to manage America’s welfare-warfare state system than Trump and Biden.
That’s in fact why the reform element within the libertarian movement and the Libertarian Party are rushing to support Amash, just as they rushed to support Bill Weld, another libertarian-leaning conservative who was planning on seeking our party’s 2020 presidential nomination. In their minds, the solution to America’s woes is keep the welfare-warfare state system intact and just put libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives in charge of it. That’s why they celebrate, for example, when a libertarian-leaning conservative is selected to chair some federal regulatory agency and then brings “free enterprise” or “choice” “public-policy prescriptions” to the regulatory process.
I have no doubts that Amash could garner 3 percent, maybe even 4 percent of the vote. That’s what a safe campaign can do. I say: Big deal. We have been here 49 years and we celebrate a 3 percent return. That’s sad.
Playing it safe doesn’t produce big payoffs. I say we do something bold. I’ve been saying this at every one of the 18 state LP conventions I have attended and the 12 presidential debates in which I have participated. Acting with boldness has the potential for a super big payoff. And after 49 years of striving for liberty in the political arena, we have earned the right to a big payoff.
I say: Let’s run a bold campaign, not one based not on personal attacks or on getting “better” people into public office. Let’s run a campaign employing what we are good at — philosophy, ideology, principles, ideals, and sound ideas on liberty. I want to explain to our fellow Americans what libertarianism is all about, what we are all about, what we are fighting for, and why we gave devoted our lives to the cause of liberty.
We are the party of principle. I say: Let’s do something different. Let’s do something bold. Let’s run a presidential campaign of principle for The Party of Principle.