Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) follows in the footsteps of his “maverick” Arizona colleague, John McCain: he’s never afraid to anger Republican voters. The latest example: Flake, on a book tour for his Conscience of a Conservative (an obvious play on former Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative), has been ripping President Trump up and down. The book itself doesn’t pull punches: Flake says that Trump was “a candidate who entertained [voters] and offered oversimplied answers.” In an op-ed for Politico, Flake wrote, “We created him, and now we’re rationalizing him. When will it stop? … that unnerving silence in the face of an erratic executive branch is an abdication, and those in positions of leadership bear particular responsibility.”
So, has Flake earned the respect of Democrats for his willingness to “go it alone”? Have Democrats cheered Flake’s apparent intrepidity? Have they celebrated Flake for speaking what they perceive to be hard truths about Trump?
Of course not. They’ve ripped him up and down for continuing to vote for conservative policy priorities. Here’s the Twitter take:
In this respect, Conscience of a Conservative may be the most clear-eyed and righteous takedown of Donald Trump from a Republican in office. But what the reader may not know about Jeff Flake, and which he certainly doesn’t reveal in his short book, is that he has voted with Donald Trump 95 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.
This is the problem for the Left: they don’t expect intellectual honesty from Republicans. They expect submission. They want Republicans not merely to criticize obvious moral failings within their party, or to buck Trump on policy heresies. They want Republicans to vote for Democratic priorities in order to fight Trump. Which is pretty convenient, since they’d like Republicans to vote for Democratic priorities anyway. If Trump were to push single-payer, would they applaud Republicans for voting it down?
This is one of the big reasons Trump won in 2016: Republicans got tired of hearing that they must hold themselves to a higher standard, when any standard other than complete surrender to Democrats is insufficient to Democrats. Democrats could cheer Ted Kennedy and praise him as the conscience of the Senate; Democrats could openly state that Bill Clinton’s myriad moral monstrosities were just dandy so long as he protected the killing of the unborn. But Republicans are expected to condemn immoral behavior and abandon their own principles. If not, they’re merely hypocrites!
The predictable result: a Republican Party that embraces the Democrats’ logic.
This should be a lesson for conservatives: no matter how intellectually honest you are with regard to your own side, no matter what moral standard you hold them to, you will be castigated alongside those whose behavior you condemn if you share political priorities. That’s not an excuse to toss morality out the window. But it’s certainly a reminder that the Leftist priority here isn’t a more decent country, but a more Leftist one.