Photo: Getty Images
Fans of Republican Congressman Ron Paul suffered another defeat in their quest for acceptance in the GOP this week, with House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to remove four libertarian-friendly Republican Congressmen from top congressional committees. The “purge” — which removed freshmen Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Walter Jones (R-NC), and David Schweikert (R-AZ) from the House Budget and Banking Committees — sparked outrage among movement conservatives, who interpreted the action as a “warning” for other Republican members to fall in line with a deal that would raise taxes.
Nowhere has the criticism been more biting than among members of the so-called “Liberty Movement,” the cottage political industry and grassroots networks spawned by Ron Paul and his disciples.
Like Paul, all four of the ousted congressmen are hardcore deficit hawks and critics of the Federal Reserve. Amash, in particular, has an avid following among Ron Paul’s supporters (Rand Paul-Justin Amash 2016 signs were common at Ron Paul rallies throughout the 2012 primaries). The Michigan Republican has publicly declared himself a fan of Ron Paul, and even earned an endorsement from the libertarian demi-god during his first congressional campaign in 2010.
“What’s the point of even having a Republican Party if you’re going to punish those who believe in balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility? The GOP stands as the opposition to what, exactly?” said Jack Hunter, a Liberty Movement blogger with deep ties to the Pauls. “Everyone knows Republicans haven’t been any better than the Democrats in cutting spending for years and the current House Leadership seems hell-bent on preserving this shameful heritage.”
“The current battle within the GOP is whether it will be the party of limited government or limitless government,” Hunter told Business Insider. “It’s no secret on which side of that divide Congressman Justin Amash stands, and with his recent decision Speaker Boehner has now made it perfectly clear where he stands.”
Matt Hawes, vice president of Paul’s political organisation the Campaign for Liberty, similarly sees the “purge” as part of a growing push to sideline libertarian-minded conservatives in the Republican Party.
“I think this is the latest example in a disturbing trend of the Establishment cracking down on people who are serious about cutting spending,” Hawes told Business Insider. “The Establishment is doing the best they are doing to stymie some of the people who are most passionate, and most committed to limited government.”
But Hawes also sees an opportunity for the movement, which has lost momentum since Paul’s primary loss and subsequent fade into retirement.
“I think it’s something that encourages a lot of our people to get further involved. It shows how much the movement has grown that the Establishment has to make these power grabs out in public — it shows the increasing desperation,” Hawes said, adding “It’s getting people more fired up.”
Evidence of Hawes’ claims are readily apparent in the Ron Paul Internet Universe, where bloggers and commenters have issued a rallying cry for Amash, urging fellow Paul devotees to call their representatives to demand Boehner reinstate the “purged” congressmen and resign from the speaker post.
Here’s a sampling from Ron Paul blogs:
Photo: The Daily Paul
Photo: The Daily Paul
From the comments on Amash’s Facebook page:
And here’s a meme that’s being passed around by Paul fans on Twitter:
While Ron Paul’s office did not respond to a request for comment, his fans do have a fellow Amash supporter in his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
“The House leaders chose to punish some of their more conservative members for voting for a budget that balanced in the short term, and against one that took 28 years to balance — for standing up for fiscal sanity, they were removed from the budget committee,” Sen. Paul said in a statement emailed to Business Insider. “It sends the wrong message both to conservative members and to the American taxpayer.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.