Despite what AOC has claimed, the only Democrat that most Republicans have ever wanted to date is Tulsi Gabbard. And those Republicans can rejoice because, as of Tuesday, Tulsi is no longer a Democrat.
(To be honest, I thought she had left the Democrats a long time ago.)
I have to admit that a lot of the online excitement that Tulsi’s announcement has gotten is reminding me (and not in a good way) of the initial excitement when Kanye West suddenly went from accusing George W. Bush of deliberately flooding New Orleans to embracing Donald Trump. It also reminds me of the way that Former Rep. Joe Walsh has gone from being the guy who called Obama a Muslim to being the media’s favorite anti-Trump Republican. It’s always good when new people join your side but it’s not on anyone to unconditionally accept anyone to a party. It’s justifiable to wait and see how sincere they are and also to find out what they really believe.
If Amash is considering running for President, the main appeal of winning the Libertarian nomination is that he would be nearly guaranteed to appear on the ballot in all fifty states. The main drawback would be that Libertarian conventions are unpredictable and there’s no guarantee that the delegates would embrace a candidate who hasn’t even been a part of the party until election time. (Even Gary Johnson, the most successful LP presidential candidate to date, had his detractors in the party.) Does Justin Amash want to run the risk of ending his career as an also-ran to John McAfee or Vermin Supreme?
There’s an established history of disgruntled Republican politicians finding their way onto the Libertarian presidential ticket. If Amash did end up on the ticket, he would be following in the footsteps of Ron Paul, Bob Barr, Gary Johnson, and Bill Weld. Though not a Republican, former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel also made a brief run for the 2008 Libertarian presidential nomination. (This year, Weld is back to running as a Republican and Gravel is back to running as a Democrat.) If Amash did win the Libertarian nomination, he would be the first sitting congressman to make a third party presidential bid since John Anderson in 1980.
Who would Amash hurt that most if he ran for President, Trump or the Democratic nominee? The conventional wisdom is that Libertarians always take away votes from Republicans but, in Trump’s case, that might not be true. Trump has a solid base of supporters who are going to vote for him no matter what. Meanwhile, there are people who are going to vote Blue no matter who the nominee turns out to be. Amash seems likely to appeal to voters who dislike Trump but aren’t comfortable with the idea of voting for someone they feel leans too far to the left. Along with the voters who always support the Libertarian nominee regardless, Amash seems likely to be supported by the people who, if the race was solely between Donald Trump and someone like Elizabeth Warren, would otherwise stay home.
Personally, I don’t see what Amash has to lose by running for President. He’s cut his ties with the GOP and the Democrats who applaud him for criticizing Trump will never forgive him for opposing both abortion and gun control. He’s politically homeless in Congress so why not run for President? If Evan McMullin could do it…