America’s Freedom (from liberty) Caucus

Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, after reading the Mueller report, has decided that Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, although his argument seems to be based on the premise that impeachability is kind of a nebulous thing, rather than suggestive of any specific offense. 

In response to Amash’s peculiar stand, the Republican Party’s “Freedom Caucus,” which Amash helped to form, has voted to “condemn” his position.

Yes, that’s right: condemn — for taking a position with which the rest of the group happens to disagree, though it is clearly an argument from constitutional principles, which is to say that Amash’s position, whether you agree with it or not, is explicitly an argument to assert constitutional rectitude, which is supposedly what the Freedom Caucus represents. The Freedom Caucus, in other words, has decided that constitutionality is not a political principle after all — that is, a theoretical approach to the duties of governance, subject to interpretation and contextual application by flawed human beings — but rather a cut-and-dried settled science admitting of no debate or dissenting voices. And the settled science of constitutionality, in this case, demands, in a nutshell, that the duty of a Republican congressman is to support, excuse, rally behind, and (at least every other Sunday) worship Donald J. Trump.

Worship? Isn’t that a cheap shot? Well, maybe it would seem so, if a group calling itself the Freedom Caucus, and claiming to represent the spirit of America’s founders, were not going around formally condemning the unorthodox view of a leading member, merely because it disagrees with their “consensus” on the defensibility and lovability of all things Trump. 

This overt act of orthodoxy enforcement is reminiscent of the whole Republican caucus’s recent attempt to pass a blanket condemnation of all expressions of disagreement with the policies of Israel, using the apparently anti-Semitic personal attitudes of a couple of Muslim congresswomen as an excuse to try to wedge the U.S. Federal Government into a position of tacit obeisance to any and all decisions and actions of a foreign government.

In this case, however, there is not even a pretense of addressing a genuine moral problem within their ranks, such as the apparent Jew hatred of Representatives Omar and Tlaib. The “moral issue” on the table in this new case is simply whether one chooses to read the Mueller report as a “witch hunt” and “hoax” or to read it as a prosecutor’s delivery of the results of his investigation, as per orders, and further, whether one chooses to find the details of said report damning of Trump’s conduct or exonerating. These are matters of personal, legalistic, and constitutional judgment. And for not bowing before the consensus of the Republican Party, namely that Trump is to be defended at all costs, in the name of party unity and deference to the divine, Amash is to be “outed” and publicly shamed, condemned, by his former allies and friends in the (alleged) constitutionalist faction of the House of Representatives.

Why couldn’t the Freedom Caucus’s other members simply have issued their own individual statements disavowing Amash’s position, or explaining their reasons for disagreeing with him? Why a collective condemnation, in effect a shunning?

Because nothing says “cult” like unanimous condemnation of a member who dares to express disapproval of, or disagreement with, the group’s chosen idol — as though that idol were to be judged on the same standards as everyone else.

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