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Freedom Caucus Chair: Amash Lost Leverage Quitting GOP, Coalitions

Rep. Justin Amash left the GOP in July, declaring the two-party system an ‘existential threat’ to America. In June, Amash also left the House Freedom Caucus, of which he was a founding member.


Joining Ben Domenech for The Federalist’s Radio Hour, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) analyzed two notable independent minds in Congress, Reps. Justin Amash (I-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). Meadows applauded Massie’s ability to navigate personal disagreements within party coalitions, and critiqued Amash’s departure from the Republican Party.

Amash left the GOP early in July, declaring the two-party system an “existential threat” to America. In June, Amash also left the House Freedom Caucus, of which he was a founding member. Meadows, the chairman of the Caucus, spoke with Domenech this week about Amash’s errors in departing from these coalitions.

“If you’re a coalition of one, then you’re always going to be a coalition of one,” Meadows said. “And generally speaking, you don’t move any legislation.”

Coalitions create leverage by keeping people voting together. In forming the Freedom Caucus, Meadows knew he could exert power by alliance. Amash, by removing himself from the Freedom Caucus and the Republican Party, demonstrated an inability to agreeably disagree. Coalitions are a pivotal component of influence in D.C., and he will likely lose leverage, Meadows said.

On the converse, despite being as independently minded as Amash, Massie has “clearly made the decision to stay within the Republican Party,” Meadows said. “He has chosen to work within the conference and alongside the more or less independently minded but still fiscally conservative individuals because he wants to have an impact.”

Other independent minds like Sen. Rand Paul, although voting against the president almost 40 percent of the time, have maintained influence in the White House and work within the Republican Party and in the conference. This is an effective strategy, Meadows said.

“So sometimes disagreeing without being disagreeable is really the mantra that [Massie] and [Paul] have, at times Justin too. I don’t want to slam him to suggest that he’s not, but I’m just saying that it’s all about coalitions,” Meadows said.

Meadows also critiqued Amash’s declaration of independence as a representative. Rather than representing the belief of his constituents, Amash’s decision is an expression of personal beliefs.

“Sometimes expressing our point of view is not necessarily the highest call,” Meadows said.

Meadows has on several occasions expressed his opinions privately to the president. These personal opinions do not make the front page, however, “because we can have difference of opinion,” Meadows said. “I think Thomas Massie is a good example. But Massie, again, is working on some legislation that he’s got some Democrats coming along. He’s got the chairman of Freedom Caucus supporting him in that.”