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George F. Will: One to watch from Michigan

Published: April 21, 2013
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Regarding illegal immigrants, Amash asks: “Does anyone want federal police going door-to-door searching for 11 million people?” In foreign policy, “I'm a non-interventionist who believes there are reasons to wage war but defensive reasons,” meaning “an actual or imminent — meaning immediate — threat.” Like his parents, Amash is an Orthodox Christian and pro-life. He believes marriage is a sacrament, but because others do not, perhaps “government should not be engaged in marriage at all.”

He says, “Tell me how a Democrat is going to attack me on the social issues.” Republicans, however, might take up that task. Nevertheless, he thinks he could win a Republican primary and that “my mix of positions is best for winning the general.”

He adds, “Because I do not fit neatly in the Republican box, some establishment Republicans and pundits think I am extreme” but “I am a moderate” because “the point of the Constitution is to moderate the government.”

Immediately after Levin announced his retirement, Amash received a late-night text message from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, encouraging him to run. “There's a great coalition over there,” Amash says, referring to freshmen Lee, Kentucky's Rand Paul, Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, Arizona's Jeff Flake, South Carolina's Tim Scott, Texas' Ted Cruz, Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey and Florida's Marco Rubio, a group whose average age is 48, 13.5 years less than the average of Senate Republicans.

Last month, when Paul was waging his 13-hour filibuster, Amash made his first visit to the Senate floor and was struck by the contrast with the House, which he says is “good fun” and “loud and boisterous.” The Senate would be more so with Amash inside and Michigan Republicans, having lost six consecutive Senate elections, might reasonably want to try something new. But as Amash undertakes to “tear down the left-right paradigm,” he must consider how the delicate but constructive fusion of libertarians and social conservatives has served Republicans, and the sometimes inverse relationship between being interesting and being electable.

George Will's email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP