Despite being one of the Republican leadership’s least-liked members, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash defends the need for a GOP majority in the House of Representatives.
He admits to plenty of Republican mistakes, but believes that without a majority of Republicans governing the House, America would be implementing a much worse, single-payer health care system right now. He is also known as an ardent civil libertarian, and is among the intelligence community’s most vocal critics.
Amash, who was elected in 2010, has voted contrary to the Republican House leadership enough to have a committee assignment taken from him. After voting against Ohio Rep. John Boehner for speaker, is now facing a primary opponent from one of Speaker Boehner’s closest allies in the business community.
Seemingly unfazed by the intra-party clash, Amash cloaks his public service in defense of the U.S. Constitution and explains every vote he takes on his popular Facebook page. Nearly 80,000 people have “liked” him on Facebook and hold him accountable, while learning more about Congress than most citizen activists.
In this exclusive Daily Caller interview, Amash urged continued voter activism to change the opinions of elected leaders.
“The people in charge of this place, whether they’re Republican or Democrats, only listen to force,” he said. “So, they don’t really care about whether something is good or bad. What they care about is whether they are going to get re-elected. And when they find that their constituents are up in arms about something, they quickly change their minds on that issue. But as long as the public remains passive and is unconcerned about what’s going on here, they just have free reign, and they do whatever they like.”
Who puts the greatest pressure on the fresh voices from the 2010 and 2012 class of conservatives?
“Well, you have a certain segment of political class Republicans, actually, who feel very threatened by the new crop of Republicans, who are more libertarian-minded, more conservative,” Amash said. “Frankly, this new group of Republicans is more willing to work with Democrats, but we are more willing to work with Democrats toward a common goal, which is to bring our budget back in line and other common issues like protecting civil liberties.”
“We don’t believe in the status quo. We don’t believe in kicking the can down the road,” he added.
What would be different if Amash was the speaker of the House?
“I’d work on real reforms to bring our budget back in order,” he said. “You have to actually compromise. The things that they’re talking about here are not real compromise. They portray it as compromise, and then they hit everyone who disagrees with it as being uncompromising. And so, sometimes they hit me with that label.”
He sees the problems the country faces as American issues, not Republican or Democratic issues.
“Actually, the true compromisers are the ones who want to work with Democrats on bringing our budget back in line so that we reduce the deficit and reduce our debt in the long run, and we haven’t had enough of that,” Amash said.
Thinking we may already be living in a “surveillance society” where America’s government is engaged in excessive, intrusive collection of personal data in contravention to core notions of individual liberty, Amash says the government is “tracking everything we do.”
Describing all the various intrusions of phones, financial records, geo-locations and computer capabilities, Amash said Americans may soon find America is “not a country where you’re going to feel comfortable with freedom of association. That’s what happens in Third World countries where you fear the government is tracking you everywhere.”
In one of the most consequential and surprising votes of this Congress, the Amash amendment to the defense appropriations bill to prevent NSA from bulk collecting phone data of all Americans failed by a handful of votes on July 24, splitting the Republicans and Democrats. The vote finished 205 to 217, with Republicans split with 134 yes votes and 93 no votes, and Democrats with 111 yes votes and 83 no votes. Now, he is chief co-sponsor of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s H.R. 3361, the USA Freedom Act, which has 117 cosponsors and would stop out-of-control surveillance in a number of ways.
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