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Snappy comebacks to stupid questions

by: Eric B.

Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 11:16:07 AM EST

A headline in today's Freep.

Is U.S. Rep. Justin Amash a centrist? National Journal ranking says yes

The answer is no.

If your ranking system says that a guy who voted against the Ryan budget because he didn't think it went far enough and who introduced a bill that would have outlawed most abortions is a centrist, it's probably a sign that your ranking system is hosed ... not that the guy is actually a centrist. Then again, the DC Beltway crowd has been trying to claim for two years now that Lil' Fella has some kind of bipartisan appeal, mostly because the DC Beltway crowd has no idea what life outside the DC Beltway bubble looks like.

Eric B. :: Snappy comebacks to stupid questions
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Not a centrist
But, it's also worth noting that he is something different than what the Republican Party of today as become.  This guy is a straight-up paleo-conservative with a bit of the modern right-wing GOP around the edges.  He's more of a conservative than most of the folks who call themselves conservatives, today.  That is to say that he's a bit more consistent, and thus slightly less of a hypocrite than the vast majority of his colleagues.

I really wish more of his caucus was like him.  Then, we'd have an even more stark choice come election time, and it wouldn't even be competitive, anymore.  Amash and his ilk are good for progressivism, because true American conservative in its purest and derpiest form is bat-shit crazy enough to send people flying back to the actual center.

This is why I prefer Voteview's DW-NOMINATE score
According to their rankings for the 112th Congress, most recent I can find, Amash is listed with a first dimension (conservative-liberal) score of 0.867, which makes him the 7th most conservative member of the House that session.  A perfect conservative score would have been 1.000.  I can only imagine where he'll land in the 113th, as one of the two people listed as more conservative, Ron Paul, has retired, and another, Jeff Flake, is now in the Senate.

For comparison, a perfect centrist score would have been 0.000 and a perfect liberal score would have been negative 1.000.  There are no Representatives as liberal as Amash is conservative.  The most liberal is Barbara Lee of California with negative 0.746.  The next is John Conyers with a negative 0.707.  LOL, Michigan, with two of the most extreme House members in our delegation.

As for what's throwing off National Journal, it's probably Amash's record in Voteview's second dimension, which Daily Kos analysis of the Amash Amendment consider to be a measure of elite-establishment/populist-outsider differences, particularly over national security.  A negative score such as Amash's -0.498 indicates an outsider, while a positive score such as Dingell's 0.273 indicates an insider.  Compress those votes into a single dimension and score outsider as liberal, and it's possible to move Amash to the center.  Just the same, that's wrong.

Greetings from Detroit, Ground Zero of the post-industrial future!

A weird perspective on how conservative Amash is
Voteview listed 435 Representatives more liberal than Amash.  There are only 435 Representatives seated in the House at any one time.  That means that seven Representatives died or resigned and were replaced in special elections.  Still, it shows how very far right he is.

Greetings from Detroit, Ground Zero of the post-industrial future!

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