Jeff Flake no longer wants to be a senator.
On Tuesday, the Republican senator and frequent Donald Trump critic delivered a grandstanding speech on why he decided to throw in the towel on campaigning for another term in office.
“There are times where we must risk our careers in favor of our principles,” Flake declared. “Now is such a time.”
“It must also be said that I arise today with no small amount of regret,” he continued. “Regret because of the state of our disunion…Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership. Regret because of the compromise of our moral authority and by our–and I mean all of our–complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs.”
Flake urged his Republican colleagues to stand up against the president undermining American democracy and resist the “new normal.”
His speech was typical of his recent commentary on the president — the now-retiring senator even wrote a whole book about how his principled conservative self couldn’t stand Trump.
In all likelihood, we’re going to forget about his resignation speech next week, but that won’t stop CNN from trying to get a temporary ratings boost out of it.
One of the oddest things about the coverage of Flake’s resignation is how the media tried to spin it as a loss for the president. A prominent critic of Trump deciding to leave office does not sound like a loss for POTUS, no matter how many lame barbs Flake lobbed at him during his “defiant” surrender.
Flake’s resignation is the epitome of a trend that began when Trump first secured his party’s nomination for president — various conservatives melodramatically announcing their exit from the GOP or even the right-wing itself.
Just a day before the Arizona senator made his announcement, MSNBC-approved conservative Charlie Sykes wrote a whole column about how he was no longer going to associate with a conservative movement dominated by Trumpism.
Proudly calling himself an independent conservative, Sykes declares, “If the conservative movement wishes to be defined by the nativist, authoritarian, post-truth culture of Trump-Bannon-Drudge-Hannity-Palin, then I’m out.”
The former radio host believes it is imperative for conservatives to return to those oh-so precious principles — such as free markets, limited government and the very right-wing idea of inclusion — for the movement to keep an important man such as Charlie Sykes in the fold.
Sykes also outlines how conservatism can accomplish the important task of keeping himself happy. The guidelines include purging anyone he deems to be a racist and magically winning over minority voters with Paul Ryan’s agenda.
It’s a real mystery why NBC publishes this guy’s opinions…
Sykes is surely not alone in breaking up with the GOP and conservative movement over Trump. Neoconservatives like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have repeated their departures ad nauseam. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough managed to grab a lot of headlines for saying he is no longer a Republican.
Liberals love these kinds of stories because it contributes to their narrative that Trump is destroying the GOP. The conservatives departing love to engage in this behavior because it nets them positive press coverage and strange new respect from their liberal colleagues — a respectable conservative’s biggest dream!
But do average Republicans care? The answer seems to be a strong no.
Before Flake was turned into the William Wallace of “principled” conservatism, he was earning an 18 percent approval rating from his constituents back in Arizona. It appears voters didn’t care for his agenda of open borders, privatized health care and aggressive foreign interventionism.
That agenda is what constitutes the so-called principled conservatives of these Trump dissidents and what people who are paid to analyze politics claim can save the GOP from Trumpism.
Republican voters rejected this agenda by voting for Trump as their nominee and by continuing to show overwhelming support for the man.
One of the great fallacies these alienated conservatives fervently uphold is that average voters care about those noble conservative principles.
The main attack against Trump in the primary was that he was not a conservative. That had little effect on voters.
There is also nothing in the arguments of these disaffected Republicans to win over the party’s base. Unrestricted free trade means their jobs can easily be shipped over seas. Open borders means they have no say on who is allowed to come into this country and their communities. More foreign interventions mean their children have to bear the cost for the grand schemes of think tank warriors.
These stances win disingenuous praise from liberals, but they’re not going to win elections.
It is abundantly clear that the average Republican cares more about the culture war than they do about the Export-Import bank and other obscure issues that only folks like Charlie Sykes care about.
This is why Trump won and respectable conservatives lost in the primary. This is why Flake is trying to save face from a humiliating defeat by making himself out to be a martyr.
A lot of this behavior from the losers of the GOP’s civil war resembles that of jilted lovers. Instead of accepting that their significant other broke up with them, they delude themselves into thinking they are the ones in power and make crazed demands on their erstwhile partner.
But Republican voters have already moved on and don’t care what jilted conservatives have to say.
At least MSNBC is here to help these heartbroken conservatives with the grieving process.