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Former Libertarian Lawmaker Justin Amash Offers Himself as Compromise Speaker

As the House goes into the third day of deliberations, the 188th Congress has yet to select a Speaker for the upcoming legislative session. After six rounds of contentious voting, neither the Republicans nor Democrats have been able to put forward a candidate who meets the necessary 218 votes to become Speaker of the House, thanks to a gradually growing group of dissident Republican lawmakers.

While Democrats have coalesced around Hakeem Jeffries of New York’s Eighth Congressional District, Republicans are struggling to put forward a united front in support of Kevin McCarthy. Twenty lawmakers, constituting a unique blend of hardline conservatives and individual House Freedom Caucus members, have continuously denied the Republican majority from selecting a Speaker. In fact, on every ballot, Jeffries has led McCarthy in total votes.

Former Libertarian lawmaker Justin Amash of Michigan, however, is offering to put himself forward as a compromise candidate.

“I’m not a current member of Congress, but I do know what’s at stake. I’d gladly serve as speaker of the House for one term to show people the kind of legislative body we can have if someone at the top actually cares about involving every representative in the work of legislating,” Amash wrote on Twitter this past Monday.

Earlier this week, news spread across social media that Amash had traveled to Washington, D.C., to make himself available if the House couldn’t decide on selecting a Speaker. Speaking to Robby Soave on Rising earlier this week, Amash said he would serve a single term as a compromise Speaker if elected and work toward diminishing the authority of the position.

Amash also promised several concessions to both the Democrats and Republicans, tweeting that he’d support Kevin McCarthy remaining on as the highest-ranking GOP leader, promised Democrats that he’d keep a system that’s “fair and representative,” and would prioritize “legislation that complies with the Constitution.”

As for the dissident lawmakers, Amash promised to make space for their priorities. “I’m the House [Freedom Caucus’] best viable option. I co-founded the group, authored its current mission statement, and remain friends with many of them,” Amash wrote. “I want to see them succeed in their struggle for an open, accountable process. They will get their ideas to the floor.”

Amash previously represented Michigan’s Third Congressional District for five terms, initially as a Republican before enrolling independent and then again as a Libertarian. His party change made him the Libertarian Party’s first member of Congress. He received a single vote for Speaker of the House in 2013 from Thomas Massie of Kentucky, although voting was within a single round.

The internet has quickly judged the former Libertarian legislator for his willingness, but his offer is not entirely unrealistic. While House Speakers have virtually always been members of the legislative body, there is no such requirement that they are current members. With neither the Democrats nor Republicans able to meet the 218-vote threshold, leadership in both parties may need to start exploring other options if they wish to resolve this dilemma promptly.

With the House set to reconvene at noon today, it’s unlikely that much will change unless Republican leadership has been able to strike a deal with the dissident group of 20 lawmakers. On Monday, the group of twenty initially coalesced around Ohio Republican Jim Jordan after several rounds of voting. On Tuesday, that support shifted to Texas Rep. Byron Donalds.

As of this morning, Justin Amash is still alluding that he would be open to being a candidate, tweeting, “The child of one of my good friends said it well: ‘Choose a speaker who does not claim to speak on behalf of others but who allows others to speak.'”


  1. Hmmm. Passing on the knowledge here. Will likely put a version of this up in one of LIO sites once they’re reconfigured…

    A range of acceptable Libertarian Party Prez candidates in US are decided by the Gilsons and the Tiger Team of lead activists to certain strategic needs long in advance. I mean we have already decided (again, a range) for decades from now. Most other lead LP people understood it, but many have passed away. In most cases they focus on a signature issue to move along public acceptance, and candidates must understand they are running for President of all persons, not just Libertarians, and least of all self-dubbed ‘extreme libertarians’ who have elementary understanding still. During the SPT in 1995-2005 this was discussed (again) to death, went into the LP Manual Nolan and Swanson did for limited distribution (may put this in there as well…), and is not going anywhere.

    These follow for now a 5-types sequence of a: libertarian-friendly retired distinguished Republican, the same for a Democrat (LP is weak there, but Johnson counts for both given his wide left-public acceptability), an LP libertarian who has attained public office and done well, a celebrity who has the resources or as Nolan put it, ‘sold a million books or has a million bucks to throw in,’ a’ rank and file’ activist to assess baseline public support. An unpredictable 5th case is a candidate who has prominence and has seen the light on Libertarian tools.. These are good PR and unnerve the opposition no end. To this there may be special cases. The Convention can make exceptions or do out of sequence, but that is what you have. They should all follow the rule of stick to 3 issues, not play college professor on Libertarian unusual themes. These 3 issues would be 1) The signature issue we push over the goal line or want public to think about, 2) Libertarian-based solution acceptable to public where they have expertise, 3) a ‘Goo-goo’ matter with if needed a structural issue or conversation needed to build things. They can also talk about basics like ballot access and our love of world peace through freer trade.

    There’re two other types–run NOTA, or 57 separate per-state candidates on some key structural issue like direct democracy as in Florida or abolish state income tax.

    The LP does not but should decide on a candidate for 2 cycles, and meet a year earlier to select them.
    They should also spend that year going to campuses.
    These train future voters and improve PR/name recognition.

    What happens now is Libertarian Poll Group keeps track of actual election results (assume they are half what is reported) and my Libertarian Institute gets much of the candidate D-bases.

    LNC/most state LP’s has proven uninterested in toss or without any idea of how to do it, though they should have a plan on file.

    Each of these over times builds a candidate portfolio with different groups issues that garner support.

    Per ‘Who Cares’ observation (thank you)…

    >If you think any of my suggestions are ridiculous, think about how likely you would have found the idea that the LP would nominate Harry Browne for President the upcoming cycle in January 1993 (I can’t say 1995 since he was already running) when he had spent decades publicly advocating against voting, running for office etc as libertarian strategies,

    MG: He was a Celebrity candidate, correct about non-elective tactics but went a bit overboard.
    He had a ‘Come-to-MG’ meeting with me and Nolan so came into the LP.
    His task assigned was he wrote and publicized on the signature theme of less government, and in his second campaign did the crucial task of getting radio news aware.
    Before him was a state LP public official and two ‘saw the light’ candidates that were acceptable: Paul and Means.

    >in or that they would nominate some guy no one heard of at the time who doesn’t have money, driver’s license or file taxes for the upcoming cycle in January 2003,
    MG: That was the ‘rank and file’ guy. he was asked to do listening tours and promote study of the Constitution. He was great and sorry to learn of his passing.

    >>or think how likely you might have found the idea that the LP would nominate Barr-Root in, say, January 2005).
    MG: Barr attacked the LP. the political director Crickenberger and I informed him we were going to take him out. We did. Then he was going to run for LP and like it. I don’t want to say it was an intentional political humiliation, he was a ‘see the light’ guy of opportunity.

    But I’m in DC now and people in the Capitol are opening conversations with ‘You’re not going to Bob Barr me?.’

    The point of Barr was opposition took notice of the fact that, as of then, LP might not be able to get you elected, but we sure can de-elect you. Otherwise it would have been Gravel.

    In the next election an LP who was in public office, like Amash, a past Dem like Weld. A ‘rank and file’ that Mises likes would be fine as the last election to my mind was an unusual situation to find a baseline.

    I have no problem running a comedian who knows what he is doing. Zelensky is a libertarian-fan, ran as a libertarian fan, and is now causing the suddenly anti-Libertarian Putin severe headaches. While he had a law degree, Zelensky is a Jewish comedian who helped voters visualize his approach with his show. It’s on NETFLIX and one may learn something.

  2. Thanks for putting up the article…

    It looks like Amash got much of his libertarian agenda while in Congress, namely stop the ban on floor discussion and amendments, to be adopted by McCarthy as part of the conditions to get him. he spent a lot of time selling that in Congress, and got a broad coalition behind it, including AOC. It includes a period for another libertarian cause near and dear to me, time to actually read what they pass.

    I agree with GP–if McCarthy carries it out, he will have made a mark. If not, under GOPe pressure, this will be another problem for the far-left/go along to get along GOPe.

  3. robert capozzi robert capozzi January 8, 2023

    I recall Dave Smith saying that Amash would be the optimal LP prez candidate IF he had a chance of winning, but otherwise he’d prefer an extremist like himself. I cannot vote for Smith, whom I find interesting but poor positioning, and I would vote Amash.

  4. NewFederalist NewFederalist January 7, 2023

    I guess this is moot now. I think Amash’s time has past. Too bad because I think he really is libertarian but his timing was bad.

  5. George Phillies George Phillies January 7, 2023

    McCarthy got the job. There were in exchange very positive reforms of how Congress functions. If McCarthy has the wits to make them work he will go down with, e.g., Speaker Cannon as an important man.

  6. Who Cares Who Cares January 7, 2023

    While you could both be correct, you could also both be wrong.

    SG: in the hypothetical where amash were to be seriously considered, his votes would not necessarily have to include freedom caucus. Bear in mind I don’t check news multiple times per day so this may not longer be possible even in theory, and even if it still is, probably unlikely but: say Republicans can’t agree on someone that enough of them to form a majority of all house members vote for, due to their narrow margin. The Democrats can’t either, because even if they vote unanimously it is still a majority.

    In this case the best case scenario is either someone who can win unanimous or near unanimous support from Democrats and pick off at least a few Republicans (probably the most more moderate ones in this case) or vice versa. The question is then how intransigent the more extreme Democrats would be in such a scenario. We already know the more extreme Republicans are quite intransigent even for someone as willing to bend their way as McCarthy, so the scenario of all or most Democrats plus some of the more moderate Republicans seems more likely, but I don’t know how likely that is.

    Who would fit such criteria? Perhaps one of the Republicans who voted for Trump impeachments, but most of those are no longer in office. Even better if this person no longer identifies as either Republican or Democrat (see the current situation in PA house for rough analogy). I know of one such person only, at least with recent prior service in the body, although that is not an absolute requirement either. Of course someone else, say Liz Cheney, could also fit it if she left GOP; maybe she did and I missed it or forgot.

    Anastasia: true, if they have the ability to prevent some other faction from emulating what they did and overwhelming multiple state parties with voting members to control the majority of the delegate selection process. A presidential campaign is the most likely way this might happen. Caveats 1) Many or most states have length of membership rules which can be waived, but won’t be in the event of a faction fight. A presidential campaign would have to try to work around that by either being well organized this spring 2023 when most states have conversations, or have a lot of supporters who meet state convention voting requirements well enough ahead of time in a sufficient number of states (typically state and sometimes national party dues paying club membership). A prominent position such as House Speaker would certainly help someone like Amash have the resources to mobilize enough support to pull something like that off within the next 16 months; otherwise, more realistically it would take him a dry run in 2024 and then sustained pac or similar organization effort through 2028 including a well organized, funded and sustained caucus type activity within the LP state and national levels.

    For someone like Amash the only other alternative would be an independent run if he wanted to run for president, or something like you suggest: lobbying, book deals and tours, media gigs, etc. Of course any number of those things including presidential campaigns and or house speaker could be combined and feed off each other. Independent presidential would cost additional millions for ballot access without LP nomination.

    Who else could pull it off? My guess is most likely Trump is most well poised and flexible to get the nomination (“look, like I said before, libertarians are terrific,ok? I just said they never win. And that’s true. Look it up. They always lose. But a lot of people are telling me, with me they can win. And I looked into it, and I have really actually always been a libertarian. They need a better name but we will get around to that,ok? For now all you gotta remember is that it is not liberal,ok? When you hear libertarian from now it means TRUMP. And with me leading the way we’re gonna win,ok?”) But also least likely to need it. But, in case DeSantis or anyone else looks likely to take GOP nom during the early primaries, it can be a ballot access money saving pivot for him. The misesians already tend to like him. Don’t laugh, miniTrump aka Wayne Root already had the VP nom, runner up for P nom, LNC at large, runner up for LNC chair etc.

    Who else? Liz Cheney has the financial and name recognition resources to pull it off, but it’s harder to see her pulling off the sustained effort to bs enough people either that she’s libertarianish enough for LP nomination or that they should spend the time, money and effort to attend both the state and national LP conventions, months apart, to take over a hostile party. For something like that it helps to have more of an existing base among current LP members or at least people who think of themselves as libertarians.

    That brings me to Johnson and Weld. Johnson won’t do it again unless someone with more recognition and resources can BS him that they can piggyback him into the main stage debates with Biden/harris/whoever and Trump/DeSantis/whoever. Once burned, twice shy. And why would e.g. Cheney or Trump want to run for vp with someone like Johnson? Weld is old but that’s not his biggest problem (Trump will be 78; if Biden runs again he will be 82). His bigged problem is that he already burned the LP once (twice if you count ny in 2006) so nobody has any reason to trust his old drunk lying self.

    So … ,the libertarians are likeliest to run some boring movement jackoffff-all-trades whose name will mean nothing to next to anyone outside the party or so called movement who appeals to the currently active dominant faction members, e.g. “comedian” Dave Smith or if they are really lucky maybe Tom Woods. Ron Paul is old enough to not give a shit and do it for lack of anything better to do if it wasn’t too much of an embarrassment to Rand Paul, and Rand is far too young and ambitious to seriously consider it himself.

    If you think any of my suggestions are ridiculous, think about how likely you would have found the idea that the LP would nominate Harry Browne for President the upcoming cycle in January 1993 (I can’t say 1995 since he was already running) when he had spent decades publicly advocating against voting, running for office etc as libertarian strategies, or that they would nominate some guy no one heard of at the time who doesn’t have money, driver’s license or file taxes for the upcoming cycle in January 2003, or think how likely you might have found the idea that the LP would nominate Barr-Root in, say, January 2005).

  7. Thane Eichenauer Thane Eichenauer January 6, 2023

    What will happen, nobody knows. I didn’t expect Donald Trump to get nominated and win in 2016. The world can be unpredictable.

  8. Jim Jim January 6, 2023

    The Mises Caucus wasn’t running the LP when Amash quit the Republicans. If he was looking to win their favor he would not have given the speech that he did at the 2022 Libertarian convention. He knew what he was doing when he gave that speech.

  9. Jared Jared January 6, 2023

    I can’t see Amash ever becoming a lobbyist. The MiCaucs don’t hate his guts, but they don’t see him as one of their own, despite the fact he is a principled Misesian. Amash never approved of their antics or their cultish devotion to Murray Rothbard, so in their minds he’s wishy-washy and only a small step up from the old guard.

    The “Beltway” types appreciate his years of Congressional experience and ability to attract media attention, his clear communication skills (vs., say, a Gary Johnson), and his humble character, but they don’t care for his more conservative-leaning social views. So it’s doubtful he’d be their first pick.

    Tbh, Amash would be a great bridge-building presidential candidate to rally both the MiCaucs as well as those who’ve resisted their takeover. Most Libertarians at least like and respect the guy and know he’d run a competent campaign. But the controlling faction of the party has its heart set on alleged comic and paleo wonderboy Dave Smith, so I can’t imagine the nomination will go to anyone else. Heise sets the agenda.

  10. Anastasia Beaverhausen Anastasia Beaverhausen January 6, 2023

    Amash, bless his heart, is looking for a Plan B because the Mises Cult that runs the LP didn’t embrace him with open arms when he quit the R’s. He’s pretty much persona non grata with them so there’s no chance in hell that he’ll get the LP Presidential nod next year. So, he’s sniffing around DC getting his name in the news. He’ll probably end up a lobbyist somewhere.

  11. Johno Johno January 6, 2023

    Amash has a great chance with Stabenow’s Senate seat in Michigan. He should focus his time running as a Libertarian in that state instead of no-go for Speaker of House. Help your party grow in Michigan.

  12. SocraticGadfly SocraticGadfly January 6, 2023

    Oh, let’s add more on why Amash is at best misreading things, at worse just wrong.

    He co-founded the FreeDumb Caucus; he should know the defectors won’t surrender to him because none rallied to him before he left the GOP, among other things. He knows who these people are. On the flip side, given that the “mainstream” GOP recruited Meijer to run for his House seat, they aren’t surrendering to him either.

    Verdict: He’s trying to keep his name in the news for 2024.

  13. SocraticGadfly SocraticGadfly January 5, 2023

    Justin Amash as compromise Speaker sounds great. No way the “defectors” surrender to him, though. And, his view of the Speakership’s power needing to be diminished bucks House history going back to Henry Clay.

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