Being Right: On Jeff Flake: Is Retirement the Right Move to Make?

Helping or Hurting His Cause?

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced last Tuesday that he would not be seeking re-election in 2018. An emotional Flake cited his inability to support a President who cannot honorably and effectively push the Conservative ideology. Choosing not to hide behind the Republican majority that he and his colleagues have built in the Senate, Flake decided to speak out about an executive branch that has proved unpredictable and whimsical in their actions and speech. Flake spoke frequently about the dysfunction that has come to define our country and the silent opposition to the president that he believes prominently exists, and must arise, amongst his Republican colleagues.

“When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do – because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum – when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics,” Flake said. 

I must admit that Flake is not wrong in his assessment of our president. Our country under President Trump has become as divided as ever before. Trump and his administration have turned our political system into a circus where his tweets have become more important than the strokes of his pen. By announcing his decision to retire at the end of his term, Flake has shown that he cannot tolerate working under a man whose rhetoric and actions he believes are inexcusable. His decision encourages others to abandon their fears and preach the same message.

While I admire his endeavor, I do find Flake’s decision a bit concerning for the future prospects of the Republican party. At a time when the Democrats seem to be at an ideological crossroads on whether to go further left, or shift more moderate, the Republicans seem to be falling into this same rut. Majorities in the Senate and the House have made little progress in advancing the agenda that President Trump and many Republicans campaigned on.

While it is no surprise that this fracture exists within the Republican party, Flake’s comments brings it to light. For traditional conservatives, Trump’s actions prove that he knows little about the concept. He does not exercise prudence, he alienates even his closest confidants and is continually losing the support of Republican stalwarts on Capitol Hill.

Could it be argued that Senator Flake’s defiance of the Trump agenda would be better suited from his post as an elected official? I think that this is a fair argument. However, Flake himself spoke about the regret that he possessed in not being able to do his part in mending the crevice that separates our country’s political leadership.

“Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our – all of our – complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs,” Flake said. 

For President Trump, this removes yet another opposition of his from the Congressional ranks. Presuming that fellow Arizona Senator John McCain also will not seek re-election in 2018, the state of Arizona will have two vacant seats in the 2018 midterms. Arizona has not elected a Democratic senator since 1988. If a pro-Trump candidate emerges and somehow wins, this would be a major upgrade for President Trump. However, if a Democratic candidate gains traction and can somehow earn one of these seats, Trump’s ability to push his agenda through the Senate becomes even more bleak. Big things are still to come after the bombshell news from Flake.                                           

Contact Paul Smyth at [email protected].