OK, I’m slightly exaggerating to say that Justin Amash said it to the entire GOP establishment. He was speaking specifically to a retired congressman, Pete Hoekstra, who backed his opponent in the primary. Hoekstra lost the 2012 gubernatorial primary and a 2010 Senate race in Michigan before that. “You are a disgrace. And I’m glad we could hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance.”
As Aaron Blake and Wesley Lowery write for the Washington Post:
Politicians who win campaigns, no matter how dirty, will almost always kiss and make up with their political opponents in their election-night speeches.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), of course, is not your average politician.
After defeating a Chamber of Commerce-backed candidate in his primary by 14 percentage points on Tuesday, the Ron Paul ally set about settling a few scores.
Indeed he did. His words to his defeated opponent, Brian Ellis:
You owe my family and this community an apology for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign. You had the audacity to try and call me today after running a campaign that was called the nastiest in the country. I ran for office to stop people like you.
If people think Justin Amash is just being personally vindictive or petty or unforgiving, they are completely misunderstanding what is at stake and how Amash is strategizing. The Establishment Republicans want permission to attack Tea Party conservatives by every liberal tactic and smear that is possible, and then, if they are defeated, expect all to go on as normal.
That cannot be permitted to continue. Whenever possible, Tea Party winners have to give future GOP Establishment an incentive to be honorable in the primary races.
This is true, precisely because the more standard, corporate-owned GOP politicians, and Tea Party politicians, really do need to work together to defeat the Democrats and their agenda. The more that the Establishment politicians recognize that they won’t get away with working with Democrats and with acting like Democrats, the more useful they will be to the nation. Right now the entire Liberal establishment is doing everything it can to encourage Republicans to believe they are smarter and will be more successful if they show disrespect to the Tea Party in every way possible.
When someone like Amash wins a resounding victory, he has an opportunity to push back. He can’t afford to squander it. He needs to provide public pressure to get more Establishment types to realize that they need to work together.
Amash isn’t being divisive. Ellis was being divisive. Amash is working for Republican Party unity.