Michigan Rep. Justin Amash is really taking this whole Independence Day thing to heart. The congressman announced in a Washington Post op-ed Thursday that he is leaving the GOP to become an independent.
"Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party," Amash, a libertarian, wrote in a column that denounces the two-party system as an "existential threat to American principles and institutions." He said party loyalty has eclipsed Congress' true purpose of serving the American people, and called upon readers to "join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us."
Amash's departure from the GOP was "nearly a decade in the making," says HuffPost's Matt Fuller. Indeed, Amash has been at odds with the party for some time. He remains the only congressional Republican to call for President Trump's impeachment following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report detailing Trump's possible obstruction of justice. He has frequently joined Democrats in various votes against Trump's initiatives, like the border wall. In June, he resigned from the House Freedom Caucus that he co-founded in 2015 and faces a formal censure from that body.
Recently, CNN dubbed Amash "the loneliest member of Congress," and Amash himself told Vox that "a lot of the people who once stood with me are no longer there."
So, what does his departure mean? As Reason notes, Amash was facing a tough upcoming primary challenge for Michigan's third congressional district. His new affiliation means he can try to run for re-election as an independent. But there's also lingering speculation that he could launch a 2020 challenge against Trump. Unless or until he rules this out, Reason writes, the coming months "will be a festival of guessing, gamesmanship, and gossip." Oh, goodie.