Republican Rep. Justin Amash was one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative faction of the GOP best known for holding up countless pieces of legislation until they had applied one last rightward twist. But now Amash has resigned from the caucus he started, because the Freedom Caucus is no longer the domain of the most tightfisted representatives of the tea party cycle. Instead it’s become the loudest cheering section in Donald Trump fandom.
Trump is a “mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense” and a “cancer on conservatism.” Those are the words of Trump’s secretary of energy, Rick Perry. For Ted Cruz, Trump was a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen,” and “a serial philanderer.” For Lindsey Graham, Trump was “crazy” and a “kook” who’s “unfit for office.” For Chuck Grassley, Trump was “idiotic.” Mitch McConnell simply used the term “repugnant.”
When Donald Trump was running for office, there seemed to be no end of Republicans who were willing to point out his lies, his lack of knowledge, his execrable morality, and his willingness to place his self-interest ahead of all other concerns. But as Trump has accrued power and the support of the party’s base, Republican leaders have determined that showing leadership is a bad thing, and that they have no position except whatever position Trump tells them to assume—even when what he does is anathema to the supposed foundations of the party.
The Washington Post reports that Amash’s stepping down from the the Freedom Caucus comes three weeks after he actually bothered to read the report of special counsel Robert Mueller and tried to point out to his fellow Republicans that the report clearly documents “impeachable conduct.” Amash then tried to get others in the Republican Party to join him in criticizing Trump’s actions and supporting additional investigation. That’s not how it worked out.
Instead, fellow Freedom Caucus members Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, both of whom came to Congress with supposedly the same agenda as Amash, voted to rebuke the founder of their caucus. Meadows now states that Amash’s views are supported by no one in the caucus. Or at least, no one who is left in it.
Justin Amash isn’t a progressive. Not on any day or on any issue. In fact, his positions have been some of the most unreasonable in Congress when it comes to applying public funds to public benefits. Amash’s principles are in no way the principles of the Democratic Party.
But … he does have principles. And that alone is unacceptable for the fan club that was the Republican Party. After all, James Comey is a Republican. Andrew McCabe is a Republican. Robert Mueller is a Republican. And all of them are now the objects of “Lock ‘em up” chants at Trump rallies.
Amash can put down his lamp and stop searching. There are no honest Republicans left to find.