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Dalmia: For Biden and Trump, an Amash presidential run could hurt both campaigns

Congressman Justin Amash
West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash is considering a run for president.

West Michigan Congressman Justin Amash is considering a run for president. This week, Amash revealed that he has paused his Congressional reelection campaign while he considers running for the White House.

Libertarian columnist Shikha Dalmia joined Michigan Radio Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to talk about Amash's possible run and personal liberties in the time of stay-home orders. 

Dalmia is a columnist for The Week and a senior analyst for the Reason Foundation. She lives in Metro Detroit.

Amash was elected as a Republican, but is now an independent. Before Amash left the party, he was the first Republican in the U.S. House to call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. He has identified as a Libertarian and one possible scenario would be a run as a Libertarian Party candidate. 

Here are some excerpts from the interview with Dalmia:

On her initial reaction to a possible Amash candidacy

"Amash is a real bright spot on our political landscape. He's the one politician who is principled and is not unwilling to stand up to either party when they depart from his principles," Dalmia said. "For that reason, I was kind of excited. On the other hand, I think this election is fundamentally - for a lot of us - about defeating Donald Trump. So, the question only is how his candidacy would affect that."

On who this might hurt or help politically

President Donald Trump? "A lot of people think that Amash's run will hurt President Trump because he will cut into his votes since he has been a Republican," she said. "There are many Republicans who are looking for an alternative to Trump without straying from the party. That is definitely a valid viewpoint." 

Democratic candidate Joe Biden? "This may hurt Biden because a number of people like me who would, in the absence of Amash, vote for Biden will have to seriously consider Amash. There were some polls conducted last year that showed Biden's lead narrowing a little bit with an Amash candidacy." Dalmia said. "They weren't huge numbers, but I think that is reason to think that Biden maybe hurt a little bit by Amash." 

Does it help or hurt Amash? "Even though he is one of the most principled politicians out there, if not the most principled one, he is ultimately a politician, and I imagine he would not be doing this if this didn't help him in some way, shape or form," Dalmia said.

One Libertarian's view of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order

"Even Libertarians who see only a very small role for the government do see that role as including protecting people," she said. "But this emergency use of power [by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer] is troubling, especially when it is done not in a minimal way to ensure public health, but in a maximal way just because somebody can."

Dalmia pointed to some elements of the updated extension of the stay-home order, including restrictions on certain areas of larger stores, as an example of what she views as going beyond the necessary minimum for safety.

But the columnist is also concerned about the tone of Thursday's protests of Whitmer's stay-at-home order in Lansing.

"I didn't mind the way the protests were originally planned with people staying mainly in their vehicles," Dalmia said.  "Too many people came out [of their cars]. There were chants of, 'Lock her up!' And those are all very, very disturbing. This is a serious moment and we shouldn't be using it for this kind of political gain, but also because it jeopardizes public health."

Editor's note: Answers have been edited for length. You can hear the full interview at the top of this page.


"Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Provides a Lesson in What States Shouldn't Do To Stop a Pandemic," by Shikha Dalmia for the Reason Foundation

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Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Public staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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