Because he was afraid his campaign might actually matter—that’s why. Amash must have been taken aback by the Twitter responses to his announcement of his intention to seek the Libertarian nomination. NeverTrump Republicans, Democrats, and others swarmed into his mentions to beg him not to run for fear of taking votes away from Joe Biden. Ever since Amash voted for impeachment, his anti-Trump admirers have far outnumbered his libertarian fans. Amash had made himself a “good Republican,” like Mitt Romney, who could now be invoked by Trump’s critics any time they wanted to argue that even conservatives ought to oppose Trump. Amash had left the GOP by the time he cast his impeachment vote, but he remained useful. He was still providing cover for what was overwhelmingly a partisan project. (At this point, as a I note in the forthcoming print US edition of The Spectator, the NeverTrump Republicans are partisan Democrats as well—the neocons have returned to their Democratic roots.)…

The Libertarian Party would have been well-served by Justin Amash putting the fear of third-party defections into the two major parties. But Amash would have earned the enmity of some of the most important people in the nation’s gatekeeper class: people who hold the keys to the academy, the prestige media, the tech companies and their riches, and so much more. Such people have plenty of tolerance for harmless Hayekian pitter-patter, especially if it’s of a politically self-neutering “a pox on both houses—can’t we all just get along?” kind. They adore the “horseshoe theory” which says populist complaints from left and right are equally bad: only the subservient center is good. Amash and his philosophy are no threat unless he does something consequential in the November election. Faced with a choice between disappointing libertarians and alienating the elite, Amash did the smart thing. He has brains; but where’s his heart?