Rep. Amash: Tea Party Moderate

Lest the opening post on Romney give you the wrong impression, let me highlight a Tea Party conservative exercising some principles of moderate politics: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). The New York Times had a profile of him last week that caught my attention. The youngest member of the freshman class (he’s all of 30) is also arguably the most contrarian, having voted not voted with the majority more than any other House Republican. He’s also received some attention for explaining each vote he makes (many of them ‘present’) on his Facebook page.

What caught my attention about Rep. Amash, though, was his explanation of why he voted against the bill to defund Planned Parenthood: “While I oppose abortion funding, the language, as drafted, violates my conservative approach to legislating. Legislation that names a specific private organization to defund (rather than all organizations that engage in a particular activity) is improper and arguably unconstitutional.” In other words, he was willing to sacrifice his personal policy preferences (no funding to any organization that also provides abortions) for a higher Constitutional principle that placed a limit on the scope of political action.

This is a central tenet of moderate politics: Belief in a set of Constitutional principles that limit your own political behavior, not only that of your opponents.

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