To the relief of many, myself included, the American Healthcare Act failed to receive the required support in order for Speaker Paul Ryan to bring the bill to a vote. As my fellow columnist Linden Atelsek pointed out in her column, the failure of GOP leadership to get the required vote came from an in-party revolt by the Republicans, led by the Freedom Caucus. This being the first time many Americans have heard of this group, many of us are asking the questions: Who exactly are the Freedom Caucus? And what do they stand for?
Notable members of the Freedom Caucus are Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) who were the most outspoken against the president’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare. But why exactly did these men oppose a piece of legislation that was sponsored by their own party?
To start, all three of these men and most of the Freedom Caucus align more with the Libertarian Party’s values than the Republican Party’s. They have an emphasis on small government, which is why they opposed the Obamacare bill, and, more importantly, why they couldn’t stand by Trumpcare as a sustainable replacement. Furthermore, they have a mindset to place principles before party.
This has already proven costly to the administration and GOP leadership with the failure of the American Healthcare Act. But it seems that instead of addressing the concerns of its constituents, the GOP has resorted to the same bully-like tactics that placed President Trump in the White House. Following the failure of the bill, President Trump took to his favorite outlet: Twitter. The president stated: “Freedom Caucus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”
The president’s run-in with the Freedom Caucus and, more importantly, his response to the bill’s failure highlights the epitome of what is wrong with politics today. Instead of open debate, compromise and the ability to listen and respect the other side's opinion — all staples of a successful democracy — the American people have tyranny and the attempt to force policies and legislation down our throats.
The GOP establishment has declared war against the Freedom Caucus, resulting in Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) stepping down from the caucus. And some political insiders hypothesize that he might not be the only casualty for the Freedom Caucus. However, it is important for Democrats and moderate Republicans alike to stand with the Freedom Caucus. If either of these groups hope to keep President Trump in check during his term, they will need some help from the Republican Party since it controls both the House and the Senate. In reality, there are now two fates for the Freedom Caucus: It can be the body that helps to defy the questionable policies of President Trump in Congress, or, like anyone else who has defied Trump, it can be dismantled by the president and the GOP establishment. The support of average citizens is what will help determine its fate.
An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that Sen. Rand Paul was a member of the House Freedom Caucus.