COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Congressman Justin Amash’s announcement on Tuesday that he’s forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run as a Libertarian Party candidate has been called a possible gamechanger by party members across the country.
Harold Thomas, the Executive Committee Chair for the Ohio Libertarian Party, told WDTN.com that Amash’s candidacy would be a good thing for the party on the national level, but only if he stays after the election.
“I think it’s an exciting development and it will draw attention to the Libertarian Party,” Thomas said. “It would be nice if he would stick around after the election. Ron Paul did not, he would always return to the Republicans afterward.
“Gary Johnson (the former Gov. of New Mexico) was a great asset because he joined the Libertarian Party and he’s still here. As a candidate in 2016 he quadrupled the number of votes for the Libertarian candidate. If Mr. Amash could do that it would be wonderful.”
So far Amash has been hitting the right notes with party members. The Michigan Congressman told Politico on Thursday part of his formation of an exploratory committee and not a candidacy announcement was to respect the party’s nomination process.
“I’m new to the party,” Amash told Politico. “I’m respectful for the process and I’m respectful of the delegates. I want to earn their support. I want to earn their trust.”
Thomas said the party had around 10 nominees running. As of Friday, only four were on the ballot in five or more states.
Amash won election to Congress in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave of Republicans. He was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, but became disenchanted with the party and the party system as a whole the longer he served. He announced he changing to an Independent on July 4, 2019, in an op-ed in the Washington Post. He wrote the country’s two-party political system was broke.
“The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions,” Amash wrote. “The parties value winning for its own sake.”
Amash told Politico he’s most upset with the party’s approach in tone, willing to win political points with constituencies instead of doing the greater good for the country. This has become a selling point for the Libertarian Party, which has denounced the ‘culture war’ rhetoric from Democrats and Republicans and their lack of focus on policy.
“We have many cultures in this country,” Thomas said. “It’s only the last few years we have seen this kind of strife we’ve experienced between the left and the right. You have one party that emphasizes personal freedom and not economic freedom, and another that emphasizes economic freedom but not personal freedom. They both want to use the overreaching power of the federal government to accomplish what they want.
“We have a consistent vision of where we want the country to go. The two parties have no principles except Republicans like to frustrate Democrats and Democrats like to frustrate Republicans.”
Thomas said the Libertarian Party platform hasn’t changed since 1972, keeping a focus on non-aggression in foreign policy, open immigration and less government involvement in the economy and in social issues. He cited its consistency as an attractive option for voters.
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