What is Justin Amash really up to?

Amash disagrees. Although he believes that Trump is uniquely dangerous to American democracy, he told me that a Biden presidency could, at least in the long run, be just as bad. “There are a lot of people who mistakenly believe that if you simply remove Trump from office, everything will be rosy and we’ll go back to having wonderful times and it’ll never happen again—and that’s just not true,” Amash said. “If you don’t fix the underlying problems, you just end up with another Trump.”

He thinks that the main underlying problem is the dysfunctional state of Congress. American representative democracy is rotting, Amash said, because the legislative process has become so dominated by the leadership of the two major parties that it isn’t providing an effective check on the president or his power. “This is what happens in so many countries across the world, where a few people start to consolidate power and it spirals out of control,” he said. In his view, Biden simply “masks” the problem, and doesn’t, by any means, provide an antidote…

When I asked Amash himself why he’s pursuing the presidency when his chances are so slim, he insisted that he’s running to win. He argued that he has an opening because the Democrats are close to nominating an especially weak candidate who lacks voter enthusiasm and new ideas. Had Bernie Sanders been the nominee, Amash said, he may have reconsidered running. “The amount of energy and dedication [Sanders’s] supporters bring makes it harder to break through as an independent or libertarian candidate,” he said.