Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks to members of the media as he walks to a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday, July 13, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., rolls out the GOP's revised health care bill, pushing toward a showdown vote next week with opposition within the Republican ranks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Senator Jeff Flake calls out Republicans on their denial of President Trump

“Who could blame the people who felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties for reaching in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process? With hindsight, it is clear that we all but ensured the rise of Donald Trump.” These are the words from an excerpted from Senator Jeff Flake his new book, Conscience of a Conservative. (courtesy of Random House and

The Republican from Arizona went on to also write, “if this was our Faustian bargain, then it was not worth it. If ultimately our principles were so malleable as to no longer be principles, then what was the point of political victories in the first place?”

Flake’s article and book are not surprising. He has at times be critical of Donald Trump, disagreeing publicly on the firing of James Comey and the President’s use of language and social media.

Like many here at, I agree with Flake’s point that, “it was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial.”

Like Berry Goldwater and Bill Buckley did when they came together to denounce the John Birch Society, I hope true principled conservatives would stand up against the ever-increasing conservative-entertainment complex that is more invested in click-bait and money from advertisers.

As Flake puts it, “first, we shouldn’t hesitate to speak out if the president “plays to the base” in ways that damage the Republican Party’s ability to grow and speak to a larger audience. Second, Republicans need to take the long view when it comes to issues like free trade: Populist and protectionist policies might play well in the short term, but they handicap the country in the long term.”

For far too long, many on the right have worried more about defeating the left than actually advancing the ball forward. After all, it was President Ronald Reagan that said, “the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.” I hope all conservatives will get back to core issues that we all can agree on; balancing the budget, reducing the deficit, having a strong national defense, and promoting with an optimistic tone that a small, more efficient government grants more freedom and liberty.

Those principles should always be front and center, or as Flake penned, “principled constitutional conservatives whose primary interest was in governing and making America truly great.”

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Clayton Felts

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