Tag: house freedom caucus

Justin Amash Departs House Freedom Caucus

Sanders Jett-Folk | United States

Rep. Justin Amash has officially left the House Freedom Caucus, the House of Representatives’ pro-liberty group of representatives. His departure follows several weeks of controversy after he stated that President Donald Trump has “engaged in impeachable conduct.”

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The Freedom Caucus: Accountability or Hindrance?

Juan Ayala | United States

“[The Freedom Caucus] can’t tell you what they’re for. They can’t tell you what they’re against. They’re anarchists, they want total chaos.” – Former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

“…to solve immigration reform, House Republicans have to break precedent and bring a bill to the floor that offends the Freedom Caucus.” – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 

“..the Freedom Caucus has ruined the Republican Party” – Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)

So, just who is this growing group of conservatives and why should you care?

The Freedom Caucus: A Background

In 2009-2012, President Obama carried out his agenda through the stimulus package and poured money into the economy through government subsidies. Out of this “pork barrel spending,” the Tea Party was born. The caucus consists of candidates that were angry with what they thought were big government bailouts. Thusly, they became part of this grassroots movement to accomplish what they believed establishment Republicans were not.

According to the group’s Twitter, they support an open and accountable government, constitutionalism, and rule of law. Senators in the caucus include Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Some notable Representatives in the caucus include Thomas Massie and Justin Amash.

Relationship to Trump

The Republican Party is split over those who are openly criticizing Trump and those who let his rhetoric go by the wayside. The leaders of the Caucus are “brave, tough cookies” for Trump, as he puts it. Others like South Carolina Representative Mark Sanford have a lesser relationship with Trump. Sanford boasted an 80% positive rating with Trump’s voters and many see him as a constitutional conservative. However, his criticism of Trump led to the President releasing negative tweets about him the night of his primary. Many GOP strategists believe that these untimely tweets cost Sanford the race.

How the Caucus Operates

Congress is messy. The procedures and work schedule are an extremely difficult aspect of Congress and the Freedom Caucus doesn’t make it any easier.

Imagine you need 100 people to agree on an issue in your local community about implementing Common Core; you have 40 people in favor and 40 against. The final 20 want it abolished, to get rid of sex education and also want one of their members on the local school board. You have to give them 2/3 of what they’re asking for their support and need 51 people to agree to pass any measure, so a compromise must occur. Clearly, it’s damn near impossible to get there.

The previously mentioned 20 in the example would be the House Freedom Caucus, a group of four-dozen or so hardline conservatives (out of 199 Republican-held seats). Their presence can hinder a bill’s progress. Most notably, they killed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was supposed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump infamously blamed them for the death of the AHCA. They have also opposed most immigration reform bills.

Remember, these are voting members of Congress and their opinions can very much impact anyone’s life.

The Growth of the Caucus

There is no official membership list. The founders, Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), court candidates. Contributing to an individual’s campaign is a key part of the Caucus. Following the 2018 midterms, the Caucus adds to its ranks Ben Cline (R-VA) and Chip Roy (R-TX). They expect another five to six members to join their ranks.

New Progressives, Hardline Conservatives & The Future

On camera, Congress is always ready for a 30-second sound bite. It’s the content that gets clicks, retweets and presumably also why Ocasio-Cortez was seated on a committee that also has Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan on it. The far-right and far-left are emerging in the House. Consequently, there will be an already uphill battle to achieve a consensus on commonsense approaches.

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2018 Has Not Been a Good Year for Libertarian Republicans

By Kenneth Casey | United States

On August 7th, former Libertarian Presidential Candidate Austin Petersen was defeated in his attempt to receive the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Establishment Republican-backed Josh Hawley came out victorious as Petersen finished a distant third. Petersen’s defeat added onto what has already been a very tough year for libertarian Republicans.

To start off with incumbents, three out of the thirteen Republicans in the libertarian-leaning House Liberty Caucus chaired by Justin Amash will not be returning to Washington at the end of the 115th Congress. The sole Democrat in the caucus is running for re-election. Idaho’s Raul Labrador decided to give up his seat for an unsuccessful run for governor. Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee has decided to retire at the end of his term. Duncan is the lone remaining Republican to vote against the invasion of Iraq in 2002. Lastly, Mark Sanford of South Carolina lost in a primary to a Trump-endorsed candidate.  for not being “loyal enough” to the president.

For newcomers, Shane Hazel was unsuccessful in his attempt to primary an establishment Republican in Georgia’s 7th congressional district by campaigning on the cause of freedom and limited government. Nick Freitas, the staunch libertarian Republican from Virginia, narrowly lost his primary to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate of Virginia to Corey Stewart, a nationalist who happens to be a hard-core Trump supporter.

The one victory I see from a libertarian Republican newcomer is held by Maine’s Eric Brakey, who won his primary to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. However, he was uncontested in the primary.

With the departure of a few of the most liberty-leaning incumbents of House and defeat of other liberty-friendly Republicans, 2018 is not looking like it’ll be a good year for the libertarian wing of the Republican Party that went under significant growth after Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Why is this?

There are a couple things you can point to as reasoning of libertarians not being so successful in the GOP this year. The first one is obvious, that the establishment of the Republican Party is not interested in helping libertarian Republicans get elected. Even when the only two libertarian-leaning members of the Senate, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, were first elected, they faced huge opposition from the establishment and had to rely on grassroots support. But the establishment of the party has always opposed candidates who were more liberty-minded and favored limited government. This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.

In my mind, the biggest reason as to why libertarian Republicans haven’t succeeded in the Republican Party so far this year is the rising influence of populist and nationalist thought within the GOP which has grown in the age of Trump. Although not all of Trump’s policies have fully embraced represented the growth of those ideas within the party, some policies and some of his rhetoric have helped the rise. Specifically speaking, his calls for protectionism in trade and anti-immigrant rhetoric to go along with the support of spending bills such as the $1.3 Trillion Omnibus Budget has increased popularity for such policies within the party. Because of this, many candidates running under the Republican Party banner this year have embraced Trump’s positions on these issues and those who do not usually find themselves being declared an enemy of the president’s politics to many of his supporters and in many, it ends up hurting their chances of winning within the GOP.

As mentioned above, libertarian ideologues who make the decision to run under the Republican Party are always seen as non-establishment candidates, and usually face challenges from the more mainstream, establishment faction of the Republican Party. In the last four election cycles, candidates labeled as non-establishment within the party usually earned the label by being more libertarian in ideology and by being supportive of limited government and acknowledging the government getting bigger is caused by both Democrats and Republicans.

In this year’s midterms, it seems as if the definition for a non-establishment Republican has shifted – more and more candidates labeled non-establishment are named as such because they rail against the establishment by supporting right-wing populist policies in contrast to the mainstream ideology of the Republican establishment.

This has left libertarians politically homeless within the Republican Party – as both right-wing populists and establishment-friendly Republicans are vastly unlike and don’t represent libertarianism well whatsoever.

Maybe the Republican Party was never interested in liberty when they elected libertarian Republicans such as Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Rand Paul. Massie expressed similar beliefs in comments to the Washington Examiner back in March of 2017: “All this time, I thought they were voting for libertarian Republicans. But after some soul searching I realized when they voted for Rand and Ron and me in these primaries, they weren’t voting for libertarian ideas — they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race.”

Massie’s comments seem very true at this point in time, it appears as if Libertarian Republicans have not been successful in this year’s midterms because the “craziest son of a bitches” in Republican primaries this year have not been libertarians in the age of Trump.

Despite this, I am confident the liberty movement will be long-lived even in times of trouble. But this does leave the age-old question open as to whether libertarian ideologues should even bother running in the Republican Party if they can only win when they’re considered the craziest candidates in the race.

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