Home/Daniel Larison/Amash’s Victory Speech and Ellis’ Demagoguery

Amash’s Victory Speech and Ellis’ Demagoguery

Aaron Goldstein offers a typically absurd complaint about Justin Amash:

I watched the video of Justin Amash’s primary victory speech last night that Ross posted.

Ross might think this is what America needs, but Amash’s victory address comes off as childish and churlish. His speech was awash in self-pity.

Readers can judge for themselves whether Amash is indulging in any self-pity in his speech, but I don’t see it. He was celebrating the fact that he and his campaign had overcome a nasty, concerted effort to defeat him by well-funded outside interests, and he was crediting the voters for being able to recognize and reject his opponent’s distortions of his record. He pointedly rebuked Ellis and one of Ellis’ backers by name, but there’s good reason to believe that they deserved those rebukes. Maybe that comes across as too triumphalist for some people, but sometimes that is the appropriate tone for a victory speech.

Considering the despicable and dishonest charges that his opponent and his other critics have flung at him during the campaign, I would say that Amash was remarkably restrained in what he said. For anyone to have accused him of being “Al Qaeda’s best friend in Congress” was disgusting enough, but for his opponent Ellis to have used that line in an attack ad marks him to be one of the most awful and unscrupulous candidates in recent memory. I don’t think it’s unreasonable or self-pitying to hold despicable tactics against the candidate that employs them, and it would have been ridiculous for Amash to let those tactics go unmentioned. No, “politics ain’t beanbag,” as Goldstein predictably says, but that doesn’t mean that people engaging in politics should have to accept the demagogic use of ugly and dishonest methods. Candidates that make use of such methods ought to be called out for their poor behavior, and that’s what Amash was doing.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles