GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — It is difficult to discourage and impossible to manage Justin Amash because he, unusual among politicians, does not want much and wants nothing inordinately. He would like to win a sixth term as congressman from this culturally distinctive slice of the Midwest. He does not, however, want it enough to remain in today's Republican Party, which he has left because that neighborhood has become blighted. Amash, 39, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, also has left that once-admirable faction because he does not define freedom as it now does, as devotion to the 45th president.
He is running as an independent, which might accomplish two admirable things: It might demonstrate that voters need not invariably settle for a sterile binary choice. And it might complicate Donald Trump's task of again winning Michigan's 16 electoral votes, which he did in 2016 by just 0.2 percentage points.
Local Christian schools drummed into Amash and other young sinners fear of a particular moral failing: pride. His one-word description of his constituents — "modest" — suggests an aversion to vanity, vulgarity and ostentation that has an obvious pertinence to the leader of Amash's former party.
A few hours after Amash declared his independence from the husk of the Republican Party, he marched in several Independence Day parades where "I got an overwhelmingly positive feeling."
In Amash's single term in the state legislature, he cast the only "no" vote on more than 70 measures. In 2013, he had the gumption to vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act for no better reason than that there was no reason for it, and it was inimical to federalism: It "created new federal crimes to mirror crimes already on the books in every state." His average margin of victory in four reelection contests has been 15.1 percentage points.
Presently, Congress is rarely a legislative, let alone a deliberative, body. Two years ago, when Republicans controlled the House, a Republican congressman defended a committee chairman accused of excessive subservience to the president by saying: "You've got to keep in mind who he works for. He works for the president. He answers to the president." Pathetic.
The Libertarian Party might ask Amash to take his — actually, it's the Founders' — message to the nation as the party's presidential nominee. He does not seek this — he has three young children — but does not summarily spurn the idea of offering temperate voters a choice of something other than a choice between bossy progressivism and populist Caesarism. Or he could become the first non-Republican the Grand Rapids area has sent to Congress since 1974.
George Will's email address is email@example.com.