Brian Doherty talks to Amash, Massie, Yoho, Bentivolio
In case you missed it, here is Brian Doherty’s interview from the March issue of Reason with Representatives Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Ted Yoho, and Kerry Bentivolio.
The interviews focus on the members’ agendas for the 113th Congress, their philosophies, why they ran for office, and how receptive the GOP Congressional leadership, and the party as a whole, is to the liberty movement
The interviews were conducted in December, shortly after Amash and three other Congressmen were purged from their committee assignments for the “crime” of sticking to their principles instead of obeying the demands of the House leadership.
Here are some excerpts from the interviews:
I’ve heard from dozens of colleagues who are behind us 100 percent, and not just conservatives or libertarians. I was back home this weekend and I’ve never seen so much support for what I’m doing and so much anger directed toward [Republican House Speaker John] Boehner, not just for what he’s doing to me but for his leadership.
I’m a pretty mild-mannered person. I’ve been a mild-mannered congressman and state legislator. I don’t go out and make a lot of noise. When I was a state legislator, I could go and explain my votes on Facebook and leadership would give me leeway to do so without coming after me. Now they have made it clear a different paradigm exists here. I have to evolve the way I operate as well. I think it’s important for me to be more vocal about the issues and be more clear about problems going on in Congress and not really take a back seat like I’ve been taking up to now.
There are some issues that will appeal nationally that I’m interested in. Like food freedom, which comes from raising my own beef cattle. We are also missing opportunities as conservatives to show we care about the environment. Some people refer to this as being a “crunchy con.” The government shouldn’t be dictating our behavior, but there is no reason we should be against solar panels. We can be against subsidies for them, but there is no reason to hate solar panels. My house is off grid, powered by solar panels. I reserved an electric car two years ago, a Tesla, and it’s about to show up in two months. There is no reason to hate electric cars; we can despise the fact that they are subsidized but at this point all [transportation is] subsidized. I also like to point out about pollution, that it is a very unlibertarian notion to think you’re allowed to do something that harms another’s property—that’s just wrong without permission.
I think it all goes back to constitutional principles. I’ve had people in the GOP say I’m not a real Republican: Oh, he’s a libertarian. I’m for limited government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise, and personal responsibility, our core values and founding principles in the Constitution. You can stick whatever label you want on that. On the social side there are things the federal government needs to stay out of. I’m asked about marijuana, and I think Ron Paul felt this way, it needs to be federally decriminalized and turned over to the states; let states decide.
Absolutely, you have to think about not what laws you can pass but what you can repeal. I will spend lots of time looking for what you can repeal.
My job is to protect rights, not take them away, and if [any law is] violating a right in the Constitution I can’t vote for it. But I have to be very diplomatic. I have to be a bridge between conservative constitution-minded Republicans and some of the middle-of-the-road [people].
I’d like to be that middleman, a Ronald Reagan type. I worked for Reagan in ’80 at the convention here in Detroit. One reason I think I won this election was I could bridge the gap with common issues that Tea Party folk and liberty folk in the district had in common; every [Michigan] Tea Party group supported me. Liberty folk came out in droves, worked hard door-to-door. The Republican Liberty Caucus group—I firmly subscribe to what [they stand for]. Not going to create departments, going to eliminate them; not going to raise taxes, but do everything in my power to eliminate them; not violate people’s rights, but protect them.