"Our pro-liberty caucus is growing every year."
Congressman Justin Amash
(Reason.com) - Is the libertarian message winning? Coasting toward a major electoral victory next week, freedom-friendly Congressman Justin Amash certainly thinks so—even if Washington, D.C. isn't listening yet.
The libertarian Republican, who hails from a right-leaning district in western Michigan, is widely expected to win reelection on November 4. He already passed the real test: a significant primary challenge from a well-funded opponent backed by neoconservative and corporatist critics of Amash's views. The challenger, Brian Ellis, stooped as low as he could go, releasing an ad that accused Amash of being "al-Qaida's best friend in Congress" due to the representative's opposition to NSA spying and unauthorized wars.
The ad backfired. District voters preferred Amash's brand of skeptical anti-government conservatism to Ellis's Bush-era demagoguery.
"It felt great to get a big win," Amash told Reason in an interview. "The people of the district came out and said they like what I am offering, which is independent conservative representation, libertarian representation… My challenger was offering run of the mill, establishment big government Republicanism. People are tired of that."
Amash is optimistic that what's true for his district is true for the country at large. A growing cross-partisan swath of the electorate is concerned about issues near and dear to the hearts of libertarians, including police brutality, spying, and drone warfare.
But that doesn't mean Congress is getting on board. Leadership, in particular, remains as hopeless as ever, according to Amash.
"Congress is delayed by five or 10 years," said Amash. "But I'm hopeful some of that will start to change. The public is more libertarian, the public is saying we want people who are going to be independent and not bow to leadership in either of the major parties."
First elected to Congress during the Tea Party wave of 2010, Amash says subsequent elections brought more representatives who are sympathetic to the views of an increasingly libertarian electorate into the fold.
"Our pro-liberty caucus is growing every year," he said.
He credits Sen. Rand Paul for breaking ground as a libertarian-aligned U.S. senator and continuing to draw attention to the cause via his widely-expected presidential run.
"There's no doubt that Rand Paul has a more libertarian perspective than senators from years past and there's no doubt that it's broadly appealing to the public," said Amash. "You're seeing widespread support for Rand Paul and a lot of other presidential candidates or prospective presidential candidates are going to adopt many of his positions with the hopes of expanding their base."
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