Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2018. While on the Senate floor, he grandstanded over the Presidency of Donald Trump, saying that “reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior” at the top of the US government was dangerous to our democracy.
“If I have been critical, it’s not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the President of the United States,” Flake said. “If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience.”
He continued, “The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters — the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.”
The White House responded bluntly. “Based on the lack of support he has from the people of Arizona, it’s probably a good move,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Flake is not the first Senator to defect on Trump’s Republican Party.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who also will not be seeking reelection, has also been speaking out against the President. In response to Flake’s announcement, he had this to say:
“[Flake is] one of the greatest people I’ve served with,” and “He’s what I would call a real conservative.”
Even former Vice-Presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said “When someone as good and decent a person as Jeff Flake does not think he can continue in the body, it’s a very tragic day for the institution.”
When asked if Flake’s could be in play for Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) only smiled.
Jeff Flake was on the track to lose the seat anyway.
Kelli Ward, who lost in 2016 against John McCain in the Republican primary, set her sights on Flake’s seat. The President then supported her. Steve Bannon, who vowed to run primaries against all Republican incumbents minus Ted Cruz, was looking at Flake for a major target as well.
But most importantly, Flake had lost faith with his constituents. He traded honest service for shameless grandstanding. He chose to fight the President, lost, and did not receive the consolation prize he was looking for. All that remained to him were the failing sales of his ill-advised tome titled “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.”
In his speech, Flake said that he has “children and grandchildren to answer to,” implying that anyone who disagrees with him must answer to their kids as well.
If Flake is as honorable as he presents himself, and the President truly has put the nation at risk, why not stand and fight? Would it not be his duty, by his own definition, to combat the President’s misleading of the country?
Instead, he’s choosing to cut and run.