As the President prepares to take the stage in Washington D.C. and pervert the celebration of our nation’s birth into a tribute to his own ego and his heinous ambitions, his loudest Republican critic caused a stir by publicly announcing his departure from the president’s party in a Washington Post op-ed.
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But curiously, Amash’s reasons for leaving his party do not focus on the President, or the way that his party has enabled his authoritarian and wildly corrupt administration at every turn. It has nothing to do with the unspeakable horrors that the Trump administration is inflicting on innocent migrant children in border concentration camps, nothing to do with the president’s efforts to subvert democracy and undermine the rule of law at every turn.
Instead, Amash is regurgitating the same tired tripe about the “partisan death spiral” that grips our politics thanks to his own peers, who he somehow does not feel the need to call out.
Instead, he cravenly insists on blaming “the system” as an abstract concept and not the brinkmanship politics that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has ruthlessly enforced over the past ten years.
“In recent years, though, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions… Americans have allowed government officials, under assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of powers, federalism and the rule of law. The result has been the consolidation of political power and the near disintegration of representative democracy.”
On the one hand, he’s absolutely right that the American two-party system is a complete disaster that is inherently designed to allow a tiny coven of oligarchs to wield enormous political power against the wishes and interests of hundreds of millions of people.
But his op-ed presents an incredibly naive, high-school civics class vision of what government is supposed to be that drastically misrepresents how power actually works as the vehicle for the implementation of an ideological agenda.
“In this hyperpartisan environment, congressional leaders use every tool to compel party members to stick with the team, dangling chairmanships, committee assignments, bill sponsorships, endorsements and campaign resources. As donors recognize the growing power of party leaders, they supply these officials with ever-increasing funds, which, in turn, further tightens their grip on power.”
While mewling, feckless centrists like Amash love to complain about “partisan loyalties,” those partisan ideals represent a commitment to a moral vision of the world and what it should look like.
On the left, that’s a world where everyone has their basic needs fulfilled and can live their lives in relative comfort and dignity. On the right-wing, that’s a world where power, comfort, and dignity are luxuries held only by rich white Christian men. The two visions are diametrically opposed to one another on the most basic level and are irreconcilable, as they should be.
Partisan loyalties are not a bad thing; in fact, their absence is usually evidence of ignorance or disinterested privilege. But for Amash to pretend that this is somehow the fault of “both sides” is breathtakingly disingenuous when the most cursory examination of the past ten years of American politics makes it obvious that it is the nihilistic zealotry of the GOP that has brought our nation to the crisis of gridlock.
Amash ends his op-ed with this declaration:
“Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it.”
We can absolutely do better than a two-party system — but until the Republican Party displays any sort of moderation in its agenda or any willingness to compromise or show basic empathy towards anyone, they should not be let off the hook or given good faith for any reason.
Amash made a name for himself in defying his party and calling for Trump’s impeachment, so it’s quite disappointing to see him trot out this boring both-sides drivel in the place of the powerful rejection of Trumpism and Republican extremism we all hoped was coming.