Congressmen: Enough Small Gov’t - Conservatives Like Us to Influence Policy

By Rudy Takala | February 16, 2015 | 4:20pm EST


Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), founder and chairman of the House Liberty Caucus. (AP File Photo)

( – Though outnumbered, small government conservatives and libertarians are becoming more influential in Congress, and there are just enough of them now to influence policy, said Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) during a weekend panel discussion about the need for more conservatives in government.

“I think that the number is growing,” Amash said at the 2015 International Students for Liberty Conference held in Washington, D.C. “We’re probably at 40 people we can count on – on a daily basis – who will at least listen to [conservative] ideas and consider them and probably vote that way.”

Rep. Massie pointed out that number was enough to influence policy outcomes, referencing Amash’s habit of explaining every vote he takes in Congress on his Facebook page.

“One thing I want to mention is something I call the delegation effect,” Massie said. “If you have at least one liberty congressman or senator from a state, it sort of pulls the rest of the congressmen and senators in that direction. They have to go home and explain themselves.

“When [Amash] goes on Facebook or radio back home and explains [his] votes, it’s incumbent on them to explain why they didn’t vote the same way, and they usually don’t do as good of a job explaining that.”

“I call that the delegation effect,” Massie continued. “So getting one liberty person in every state should be one of our goals. We’re at about 40.”

Massie, an inventor who obtained a master’s degree from MIT before getting involved in politics at the local level, went on to stress the importance of local political involvement.

“There are 3,000 counties in the United States, and each of those has elected officials,” Massie said. “When I ran for my first elected office, it was county judge executive, and I was the dog catcher’s boss…

“I read some article on the Internet – I wanted to run for office, so I went on the Internet – and I read something called the dog catcher strategy… and it said that it doesn’t matter who the president is. If you don’t have people at every level of government… trying to make a change, it isn’t going to be effective. So what I’m excited to see is that we have liberty people who are winning races for city council as well.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). (AP File Photo)

In addition to talking about political engagement, the two were asked about the differences between the House Liberty Caucus – which was founded and is currently chaired by Amash – and the newly-created House Freedom Caucus, which Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was recently elected to chair.

Amash belongs to both caucuses. He said that where the House Liberty Caucus has focused on ideas, the House Freedom Caucus will focus more on procedure.

“The House Liberty Caucus… is something I’ve been working on since I came to Congress in 2011,” Amash said. “We started a small group of five or six people. Now we invite about 40 people to each meeting… The main goal is to educate about liberty and try to expand the liberty movement within Congress.

“The House Freedom Caucus has a different goal, a different agenda. There are a lot of House Liberty Caucus members in the House Freedom Caucus. The House Freedom Caucus is there to hold leadership accountable and ensure that regular Americans are being represented in Congress.

“What happens so often is that our leadership team comes up with a strategy… and they say this is the bill we’re going to run with, we don’t care if you have amendments, we don’t care what you think about this, this is the vote we’re going to take, and that’s that,” Amash said.

“We [the House Freedom Caucus] believe you should be allowed to amend bills. We believe you should be allowed to bring other bills to the floor. We believe you should be allowed to read the bills before you vote on them. The point is to ensure the process is working right. I believe that if you have a process that works right, you’re going to have a more libertarian or more conservative Congress and better outcomes for the American people,” he added.

The two conservative congressmen were also asked what cabinet positions they would like to occupy in a future Republican administration. Amash demurred, saying he didn’t have a good answer.

However, Massie was more direct. “I want to be the Department of Energy secretary so I can dismantle it,” he responded.

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