Justin Amash seeks US Presidential nomination

Amo Amash, we've never met? Ex-Republican Palestinian-American lawmaker looking to be next US president
3 min read
29 April, 2020
Progressives have warned any undecided voter who is 'Amash-curious' to steer clear, for his track record against support for almost 'any public institution'.
Michigan Congressman Justin Amash is seeking the Libertarian party nomination [Getty]

Following the rise and fall of his transformative campaign for Arab and Muslim voters in the US, Bernie Sanders has now called on his supporters to throw their weight behind Joe Biden.

Arabs and Muslims appear to have no choice but to support Biden at this stage. He has pledged to end President Donald Trump's travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, as well as reforming the immigration system and several other issues.  

Yet a third-party, former Republic, presidential candidate of Palestinian and Syrian descent has emerged, which could damage - if only slightly -  the weight of support behind Biden.

On Tuesday, Independent US congressman Justin Amash launched an exploratory committee to seek Libertarian Party nomination.

He announced his campaign on Twitter:

"Today, I launched an exploratory committee to seek the @LPNational's nomination for president of the United States. Americans are ready for practical approached based in humility and trust of the people."

"We're ready for a presidency that will restore respect for our Constitution and bring people together. I'm excited and honoured to be taking these first steps toward serving Americans of every background as president," he wrote.

The right-wing Libertarian Party, which is committed to promoting civil liberties and limited government, has seen thin success on a national level since it first stood a presidential candidate in 1972.

In only two occasion has the third-party crossed the threshold of a 1 percent share of the national vote, first in 1980 and then in 2016, when it captured a record 3.29 percent.

Fellow Republicans have ridiculed Amash’s decision.

Republican strategist John Weaver compared him to Green Party's Jill Stein, who some credit with pulling vital votes away from Hilary Clinton in 2016

Even George Conway, who is a harsh critic of Trump, said that while he admired Amash's history of supporting Trump's impeachment "the only real effect Amash could have in this campaign is to enhance Trump's chances…This is a terrible idea"

Who is Amash?

The congressman for Michigan’s third district, Amash is the son of a Palestinian refugee and a Syrian immigrant.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, he recalls his father telling him he was forced from his home in the town of Ramla by armed Israeli soldiers. During the Arab-Israeli War, his family sought refugee status and moved the US.

Amash was the first republican to call for President Trump’s impeachment. Highly critical of Trump’s policies, Republican partisanship in Congress was a driving in leading him to quit, US media report.

On hearing news of Amash's departure, Mr Trump called him "one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress'' and a ''total loser'', according to The Independent.   

Amash has frequently defied Republican Party leadership on various issues such the National Security Agency’s anti-terrorism surveillance programmes, as well as Trump 2017 executive order to ban citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US.

In 2014, he was one of eight members of Congress who voted against a $225 million package to restock Israel's Iron Dome missile defences, and supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

In 2017, he criticised US involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, arguing that "Al-Qaeda in Yemen has emerged as a de-facto ally of the Saudi-led militaries with whom the [Trump] administration aims to partner more closely''

Ironically, his views of keeping Guantanamo Bay once led a one-time Republican challenger to run campaign ads calling him ''Al-Qaeda’s best friend in Congress''.

Yet many progressive commentators have come out on social media to warn any undecided voter who is "Amash-curious" to steer clear of offering him any support, as one Twitter user writes, for his track record against supporting "almost any public institution" they hold dear.

It remains to be seen whether Amash’s run for the White House could harm the campaign of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

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