Justin Amash has had enough of this crap

Today, many Americans will observe Independence Day by enjoying barbecues, parades, fireworks, sales, and the beach. But before many of us woke up, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash already announced how he is marking America’s 243rd birthday. In an opinion piece published early this morning in The Washington Post, Amash wrote: “Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party.”

While the main headline here is Amash’s departure from the GOP, his piece aims to highlight a major problem: “Modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape.” The son of a Palestinian refugee, Amash relates how he grew up “thinking a lot about the brilliance of America” while mindful of his father’s struggles. Like his parents, Amash embraced the Republican Party because he believed it “stood for limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty,” which “make the American Dream possible for my family.”

But Amash reports he is now “disenchanted” and “frightened” by party politics. Amash raised eyebrows earlier this year by becoming the first Republican to call for Donald Trump’s impeachment and calling out Attorney General William Barr, who “deliberately misrepresented key aspects of Mueller’s report and decisions in the investigation, which has helped further the president’s false narrative about the investigation.” While Trump, Barr, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and others no doubt inspired Amash’s departure, he avoids naming culprits, focusing instead on shining the light on the larger problem. (That did not, however, stop Trump from tweeting today that Amash is a “total loser!”)

The only person, in fact, whom Amash mentions in his piece is George Washington, who had the foresight to warn us of the situation Amash says we face today. In his farewell address, Washington described how partisanship can be “our worst enemy,” and so it is “the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

Picking up today where Washington left off, Amash proclaims that we “have allowed government officials, under assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of powers, federalism and the rule of law.” He warns us that we are near the point at which “Congress exists as little more than a formality to legitimize outcomes dictated by the president, the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader.”

Amash is not throwing up his hands in the era of Trump. He is leaving his party because he does not wish to help “reinforce the us-vs.-them, party-first mind-set of government officials.” Amash appears eager to remain in Congress as an independent to avoid the “partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us” and “to stand up for our constitutional republic so that Americans may continue to live free for centuries to come.” Although 243 years is a long time, Amash is right to sound the alarm: “If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.”

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