Justin Amash, the six-term congressman from Michigan, became the darling of the political media when he became the first Republican member of Congress to call for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Amash’s damning analysis of the Mueller report, delivered via Twitter, earned him the infamous “loser” label from the incumbent president.
Intra-party squabbles have long been catnip for the press and politicos by helping to fill cable news segments and empty columns in newspapers. These squabbles are almost always overly reported, blown out of proportion, and all-in-all melodramatic fights over bruised egos.
However, the Trump-Amash fracas feels different. It feels different because Amash has further than any congressional republican in criticizing Trump. One reason is for this is Amash’s record for being a steadfast conservative. The other reason it feels different was because of his detailed description of this support for an inquiry.
Amash tweeted a searing articulation of the case for impeaching the president. In his support for an inquiry, Amash tweeted that Trump has a “false narrative” around the Mueller report. A very diplomatic way of saying he thinks the president is lying. Anyone with merely a bare-bones knowledge of Justin Amash should be showing no sense of surprise by the posture of the Michigander.
Justin Amash has long been an intriguing figure largely because he revels in being an oddball in the modern Republican party. The man also explains every vote he makes. Every, single, vote. While some members of Congress chose to avoid defending their voting record like it’s the plague, Amash embraces his with a full bearhug. Amash even opposed the confirmation of the conservative fratboy god that is Brett Kavanaugh.
In 2015 he played a pivotal role, along with other fiscally conservative GOP house members, in founding the Freedom Caucus. The group that helped force John Boehner for not being conservative enough has now become the loudest group of cheerleaders that Trump has in Congress, with almost unfettered access to the White House.
Amash’s criticism of Trump has not gone over well, to say the least, with the rest of the caucus and has earned him a badge of condemnation. The Freedom Caucus has now condemned one of its founding fathers for the unforgivable act of criticizing a republican leader almost four years ago the Freedom caucus forced a republican leader by the name of John Boehner from power. Ironic, yes. Does Amash care? Not one bit.
Facing conservatives, however, is the unfortunate reality that Amash is one of the most ardent conservatives in American politics. They can’t attack Amash with the usual “never Trumper” talking points they’ve used to go after other Trump critics such as Jeff Flake or Mitt Romney. This is what makes Amash’s support of an impeachment inquiry all the more powerful.
He has given House Democrats the ability to portray any inquiry as a bi-partisan matter, he’s potentially given cover to other House republicans that support an inquiry but are nervous of the presidential Twitter feed, and put additional pressure on Nancy Pelosi to give into an inquiry.
With the constant drama surrounding the will they or won’t they impeach, the Amash-Trump conflict has once again exposed how deeply the GOP has indeed become the party of Trump. Trump has embedded himself so deeply within the modern GOP that he is now in many ways it’s corner-stone. He’s both a polarizing figure that the 21st-century Republican party has built itself around for both the short and long-term.
Amash’s position may, at the end of the day, may turn out to be an empty vessel if Nancy Pelosi doesn’t move towards impeachment. But the mere fact that a sitting member of Congress from the party of the sitting president has articulated a case for impeaching Donald Trump far better than many democrats is in its own respect remarkable. And Amash’s ability to make this case, without being afraid of Trump’s wrath of, or his party turning his back on him, is evermore noteworthy.
Header Image: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0]