I haven’t been a fan of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake because, in spite of agreement with him on a number of issues, his open disagreements with the President puts him very close to the category of a “never Trumper”, a posture that is not productive for the objectives they share. However, he gets credit with me for his recent announcement that he will not seek re-election in 2018, first for its timing, which allows plenty of room for other worthy candidates to step up and arrange the necessary support base, and second, for a particular portion of his speech announcing his withdrawal on the Senate floor.
He said this: “It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party–the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things, but has given up on those core principles in favor of the more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment”.
In these remarks, he has essentially defined the ideological fault line in the GOP, and without even mentioning the social issues, which in several cases are more problematic. His comments are aimed at Trump for sure, but probably more broadly to the Steve Bannon wing of the party, whose criteria for policy and candidate support might be electorally successful in the short-term, but do not bode well for the governance that is required for long-term policy success. The conservative movement, of which I consider myself a part, would do well to heed Sen. Flake’s cautionary remarks.