Amash says he’s ‘declaring his independence’ and leaving GOP

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

In a Washington Post op-ed published on Thursday — the Fourth of July — maverick U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.) announced, “Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party.”

This comes after his strained relationship with the GOP following Donald Trump’s election, culminating in the congressman tweeting that he supported the president’s impeachment after reading Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on 2016 Russian election interference.

Amash: Trump has ‘engaged in impeachable conduct’

Amash had already left the Freedom Caucus, which he helped found.

The column is titled: “Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP.”

It does not seem coincidental that Amash began his column by invoking his immigrant parents after several reports of squalid conditions in migrant detention facilities, which progressive members of Congress have sought to highlight:

When my dad was 16, America welcomed him as a Palestinian refugee. It wasn’t easy moving to a new country, but it was the greatest blessing of his life.

Throughout my childhood, my dad would remind my brothers and me of the challenges he faced before coming here and how fortunate we were to be Americans. In this country, he told us, everyone has an opportunity to succeed regardless of background.

Growing up, I thought a lot about the brilliance of America. Our country’s founders established a constitutional republic uniquely dedicated to securing the rights of the people. In fact, they designed a political system so ordered around liberty that, in succeeding generations, the Constitution itself would strike back against the biases and blind spots of its authors.

My parents, both immigrants, were Republicans. I supported Republican candidates throughout my early adult life and then successfully ran for office as a Republican. The Republican Party, I believed, stood for limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty — principles that had made the American Dream possible for my family.

Amash votes against his party more than any other U.S. House member

Amash goes on to say he’s become “disenchanted” with party politics, citing President George Washington’s farewell address decrying partisanship.

“In this hyperpartisan environment, congressional leaders use every tool to compel party members to stick with the team, dangling chairmanships, committee assignments, bill sponsorships, endorsements and campaign resources. As donors recognize the growing power of party leaders, they supply these officials with ever-increasing funds, which, in turn, further tightens their grip on power,” Amash writes.

Meijer heir prepares Amash primary challenge

Amash represents the GOP-leaning 3rd Congressional District encompassing Grand Rapids and Battle Creek.

The five-term member of Congress was facing a slew of GOP challengers, including Peter Meijer, whose family owns the retail store chain, state Rep. Jim Lower (R-Greenville) and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.).

Amash did not write about running for president as a Libertarian, although he has never ruled it out. And his Independence Day op-ed will only fuel the fire.

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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