This is a moment where Republican Senator Jeff Flake spoke for the nation and was truly the conscience of a conservative (as his book is titled).
Flake said in an interview reported by the Washington Post, “I couldn’t sleep at night having to embrace the president or condoning his behavior or being okay with some of his positions,” he said. “I just couldn’t do it — it was never in the cards.”
The Arizona Senator continued to say that any Republican who “simply aligns themselves for the purpose of the primary with the president on every issue and basically contracts out any thinking on policy issues, and is willing to condone any behavior that the president exhibits — I think they put themselves at great risk in a general election,”
“I knew that when I spoke out at that time that I was out of step with a lot of the Republican primary voters, but I felt that I had to do it,” he said in an interview. “I had hoped — and I still hope and I’m confident at some point — that the fever will break. But it just became more and more apparent that it certainly wasn’t going to break by next year.”
While Flake faced a primary from the right from Republican Kelli Ward and polling showed he might lose the November 2018 election to moderate Democrat U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema, he said it was disgust with Trump that caused him to speak out.
“It was a bad day for Kelli Ward and a bad day for Kyrsten Sinema,” Stan Barnes, a veteran Republican political consultant in Arizona, told Reuters of Flake’s decision to not run again.
Flake’s departure is good for the nation in terms of his speaking out freely against this President and his assault on decency and democracy, but it is not so good for the nation in terms of making it harder for a Democrat to flip the seat in 2018 and leaving the seat vulnerable to the Bannon wing of the Republican Party. The country can ill afford the Senate becoming as dysfunctional as the House, courtesy of the takeover by the extremist wing of the Republican Party.
Most politicians don’t want to throw their careers away over a show of patriotism as Jeff Flake is doing, but it’s deeply disturbing that so many know they are putting their own career ahead of their country and don’t have enough of a conscience to care.
Jeff Flake is able to speak freely, and he is no liberal. His condemnation of this President speaks volumes about what Republicans know but aren’t saying.