Why Thomas Massie Was the Lone No Vote on an Anti-Semitism Measure
Washington cannot be united even by the notion that anti-Semitism can cause harm.
A symbolic seven-page resolution calling on the government, which is a symbol of the House’s support for Jewish organizations and individuals, was approved by the House on Wednesday. The resolution calls on it to take all measures to ensure that all Americans have the right to follow their religion without fear. The resolution passed even though The Squad was often accused of voting against Israel, or being anti-Semetic.
Who is the practical example? doesn’t believe that the systemic discrimination of individuals—Jewish or not—is worthy of condemnation?
As it is often the case with Congress, there’s always at least one. On Wednesday night, Rep. Thomas Massie used his right to vote independently from his fellow members. Nay. It was, in the smart words of one MSNBC producer, “performative contrarianism.” (Eight other Republicans didn’t vote on the resolution at all.)
Massie is something of a fly in the House’s ointment, a modern-day Dr.Former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was previously called “Republican” Massie, a self-described libertarian, has a lot of similarities with both Paul, as well as Paul’s son and a fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Rand Paul, who is just as prone to irk his chamber’s leadership team as Massie is in the House. Rand Paul is the main reason that the Senate didn’t approve $40 billion for Ukraine until Thursday. This was because Paul intervened with procedural objections to deny the fast-track status.
Massie’s most infamous moment came in March 2020, during those first chaotic weeks of the pandemic, when he refused to allow members to pass a COVID-19 relief spending bill that had broad support without first pushing for a recorded vote on where every member stood. Although his move was unsuccessful as a procedural matter it caused many members to return back to Capitol to verify that there was a sufficient number to vote. Trump tweeted that the GOP should expel him for his inexcusable move. Trump still loves a winner. On May 10, Massie won his primary in a heavily Republican district. Trump then endorsed Massie for reelection. This move helped Massie to take the nomination this week with 75% support by fellow Republicans.
During another vote, this one to oppose a proposed boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, Massie gave many reasons to explain his opposition, including that he didn’t think the United States should be dictating conduct to other nations. This was his only vote against the initiative. Elsewhere, he didn’t support affirmations for NATO or for Ukraine.
Massie’s team on Thursday pointed to this tweet to explain the Congressman’s thinking:
Massie’s rigid libertarianism often puts him far afield from his party and sometimes in the headlines. But it’s also something of a gimmick, allowing him to take these bold, solitary stances on measures that often don’t even make policy. An outcome cannot be changed by a single dissenting voice.
It’s not entirely clear Massie has much value for any government action, often questioning why Congress is even debating some of its topics. His statement was vague tweet in the early morning hours on Thursday that perhaps hinted at his thinking: “If we just voted based on the names of the bills, I’d vote for almost all of them.”
That’s not to say Massie is a proud member of the Burn-It-Down caucus. He’s an MIT-educated engineer who can run his entire 1,200-acre farm on solar energy and cashes royalty checks on the regular for the 24 patents he holds. Still, he’s not sure the scientific evidence for climate change is entirely there and questions if federal dollars should be supporting any university research at all.
After the shooting at Buffalo’s mass market, the House quickly voted on the bipartisan antisemitism resolution. He used the so-called Replacement Theory rhetoric, which is anti-Semitic and includes many anti-Semitic ideas. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (a Florida Democrat and a Jew), introduced the bill with a few allies on the other side.
Like after any mass shooting, there is rarely concrete action by elected officials. There is less urgency to be found on the Hill the further Washington gets from the headlines. It’s been proven time after time that nothing is done.
The anti-Semetism resolution at most was symbolic of condemning a form of ideology that is, in the eyes of many Americans, widely rejected. Still, Massie shows that belief and action don’t always align, especially when a longtime libertarian looks around and sees any part of the government reaching beyond the most limited of mandates; here, policing hatred and, to his mind, thinking.
Here are more must-read stories from TIME