There’s good news out of Michigan today. New polling shows Michigan Congressman Justin Amash has a 14-point lead over Steve Pestka, his Democrat challenger.
If you’re not yet familiar with Amash, you should take the time to get to know him. While I usually agree with him on issues, Amash’s voting record is only part of the reason I’m such a huge fan.
1. Justin Amash has never missed a vote in Congress.
One of my frustrations with legislators is the number of votes they miss. Sure, some votes really don’t matter, but when you’re selected to represent people, you ought to be there. Amash makes sure he is present for every vote that comes to the floor of the House.
2. Justin Amash explains every vote on his Facebook page.
Not only is he present for every vote, he explains those votes on his Facebook page. He’s the first member of Congress to be so proactively straightforward about transparency in government. I like my own Congressman a lot, but if I want to know why he supported or opposed legislation, I’ve got to either send an email or call his office and then wait for a form letter reply. Amash’s constituents can look on Facebook to see every vote he has ever cast and the reason for his position on the issue.
In a time where so many politicians are worthless, corrupt, and hungry for just a little more power, it’s refreshing to see someone doing the job he was sent to do and being transparent about it.
Written by David Kirby, associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Last week, I posted data from the latest Reason-Rupe poll showing 77 percent of libertarians supporting Romney—the highest percentage share of the libertarian vote of any Republican presidential candidate since 1980.
Many commenters on Twitter and Facebook were horrified! Surely, many reasoned, this large vote share is a measure of antipathy for Obama rather than affinity for Romney. Others commented that any libertarian supporting Romney doesn’t deserve to be considered a “true” libertarian.
I wanted to reflect on this last comment. Who should count as a libertarian?
In our Cato research, David Boaz, Emily Ekins and I have taken to using a relatively broad definition of a libertarian. Why? Compared to other political words like “capitalism” or “socialism,” fewer know the word “libertarian.” Many who hold libertarian views call themselves “moderate” or “independent” or even “conservative.” Few polls even offer respondents an option to identify themselves as “libertarian.” Those that do reveal confusion about what the word means.
One of the biggest questions many libertarians are dealing with is who to support for president this year. The Libertarian Party has nominated a somewhat credible candidate, at least by his resume alone, in former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Some others are trying to mount a nationwide write in campaign to try and get Ron Paul elected, even though his campaign is over.
While our conservative friends are trying to persuade us to support Mitt Romney. Kurt Schlichter has written one of the more persuasive pieces over on Breitbart’s Big Government:
There is no more time for games, no room for hurt feelings. Ron Paul fans, you need to choose, because not voting for Romney is a vote for Obama. It’s that simple. And you could make the difference.
Making no choice in this election is a choice –it’s a choice for a collectivist who will get two or three Supreme Court picks over a man who picked a guy, Paul Ryan, who understands capitalism and its unbreakable link to human freedom. Now, this is a two-way street. Romney and Ryan need to reach out to libertarians over their common ground. Fortunately, there is lots of common ground.
No, the Republican Party is not a libertarian party, but it is the only party with any libertarian element. It’s the only place you have any chance of being heard. And with guys like Rand Paul and the libertarian-friendly Tea Party elements, you can be in the GOP.
Most of that is true. The Republican Party of the two major parties is the one that has a genuine libertarian element. The Democratic Party as seen in its convention is generally hostile to individual liberty.
The rise of the Liberty Movement has had a strong impact on American politics. The 2010 mid-terms and primary races in the current cycle have showed that the grassroots base is not going to stand silently by while the Republican establishment chooses politics over principle.
Some have explained that the Liberty Movement is in the midst of a “hostile takeover” of the GOP. And while we have seen overwhelming success — far more than pundits predicted, there are constant reminders that the establishment is trying to leave its mark on our movement.
Perhaps the best example came yesterday with news of Jesse Benton, who served as chairman of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, signing on to run Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election in 2014.
“Jesse is literally the best in the business at building and organizing conservative grassroots movements, and I’m thrilled he’s chosen to return to Kentucky to lead my campaign,” Senator Mitch McConnell told the Washington Post.
FreedomWorks has done it again. One of the most well known, hardest working grassroots organizations in Washington has come up with some great tools in the last couple of years. Freedom Connector, a social networking site launched last year by FreedomWorks, provides users with an easy way to meet like-minded activists in their area and plan events.
The organization has also put together FreePAC, events that bring activists together to hear speakers and gain training to take back home to put to use during an election year or on ballot initiatives. The first FreePAC, held in July, was a resounding success, the second event, which will take place this weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio is also sure to impress.
But FreedomWorks has come up with yet another useful tool, a vote tracker, for activists and concerned voters who are interested in tracking votes in Congress on economic issues, perhaps the most important matter facing the United States.The vote tracker also includes a scorecard so voters can see if their representatives and senators in Washington have the best interests of taxpayers at heart.
Senate candidate Tom Smith, a former Democrat, is an accomplished businessman and a Tea Party conservative. Tom still lives on the farm in Armstrong County where he grew up. After high school, he postponed college to help his father tend that farm and supplemented his income by driving a school bus. After a few years, Tom married his high school sweetheart, Saundy, started a family, and went to work in a local surface coal mine.
In 1989, Tom entered the coal business himself. He succeeded, building a series of companies in a highly regulated industry. When he sold the companies in 2010, they were mining more than a million tons of coal each year.
Now, Tom wants to re-claim for Republicans the seat Sen. Bob Casey took from Rick Santorum in 2006. Follow him on Twitter @TomSmithforPA.
Matt Naugle: You were a registered Democrat from age 18 until August 2011. As a Democrat, you were elected official Plumcreek Township and were a member of the United Mine Workers. Now, you’re a major donor to Republican candidates and a Tea Party leader. How did you become a conservative?
Tom Smith: I’ve always been a conservative and supported pro-growth and pro-freedom candidates and causes. My father and mother were registered Democrats, so when I was 18 I registered the same out of respect for them. It was over the years, while building a family and starting a business I became more and more vocal with my conservative views.
MN: You went from working on your father’s farm and driving a bus to running a 100,000 tons/month coal mining operation. Do you agree with President Obama that you did not build the company?
This weekend Mitt Romney announced that his running mate would be Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. Ryan gained a lot of notoriety recently with his better-than-Obama’s budget proposal, which aimed to balance the budget in the next 3 or 4 decades.
It’s a sad day for conservatives when the hero to save them from their budget woes needs 30+ years to balance the budget.
Still, Ryan is the latest non-libertarian making waves about balancing the federal budget, so I would like to believe that Romney’s pick of Ryan is more about sending a message that he is (or that he wants to be) serious about fiscal issues rather than a pick to appease the Tea Party folks who don’t really care for Romney.
I am, however, a bit confused over the Tea Party excitement of Ryan. Sure, Romney could have made a worse choice, but Tea Party leaders are acting like the problems with Romney have vanished now that Ryan is on the ticket.
Let’s remember this is the same Paul Ryan who not only supported TARP but went to the floor of the House to beg his colleagues to do the same. This is the same Paul Ryan who supported the auto bailouts. How do those positions qualify anyone as a fiscal conservative?
The Tea Party movement has been much maligned by its opponents as nothing but the conservative movement under a different name. Admittedly, this is a charge that even I’ve made as I’ve been concerned about ancillary social issues that have seeped into Tea Party. That was made even worse when polls showed Tea Party voters backing Rick Santorum, who is no fiscal conservative and even worse on social issues.
But a new study from the Cato Institute, written by David Kirby and Emily Ekins, shows that the Tea Party movement does indeed have very strong libertarian roots, which is often overlooked by political strategists and the news media.
The study isn’t necessarily the first of its kind. The Cato Institute has previous put out two separate studies on the libertarian vote. In 2006, an analysis by David Boaz and the aforementioned David Kirby showed that the libertarian vote, which was drifting toward Democrats at the time, made up “some 13 percent of the electorate.” A follow up study in 2008, showed that the number of voters that could be identified as libertarian made up 14 percent of the electorate. Moreover, they were much more supportive of John McCain than Barack Obama.
This latest analysis shows that the Tea Party movement has a strong libertarian influence on economic issues, which, as Kirby and Ekins note, is the uniting factor holding it together. However, they also note that the Tea Party movement is evenly split on social issues.
Ted Cruz, who was backed by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, has won the Republican nomination for United States Senate in Texas, defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the runoff last night by roughly 12 points:
Ted Cruz, the former solicitor general supported by the Tea Party, defeated long-time Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, R-Texas, in a primary runoff that effectively decides who will serve as the next U.S. Senator from Texas.
The Associated Press called the race for Cruz the first 22 percent of votes counted showed him with 53 percent support, as Roll Call noted, despite Dewhurst loaning himself over $24 million during the primary.
Cruz received strong support from Tea Party figures such as Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., whose Senate Conservatives Fund spent $1.3 million on behalf of Cruz and raised another $700,000 for his campaign.
“This is another victory for conservatives and it shows that the Tea Party can still defeat the Republican establishment if it wants to,” said Senate Conservatives Fund executive director Matt Hoskins. “This wasn’t a fluke. Ted Cruz was massively outspent in a state of 25 million people and he still won. If conservatives can win a race like this in Texas, they can win anywhere.”
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America - and How to Stop Him.
The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a “Top Grassroots Lobbyist” in 2011. His op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. He also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
Kerpen blasts out spirited, pro-liberty tweets @Kerpen.