“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.” That’s by Jeff Flake, Republican senator from Arizona. It’s in a piece entitled, “My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump.”
Admittedly Flake is from Arizona, a state where Republicans like he and fellow Senator John McCain can say what they really believe about Trump without fear of it destroying their re-election chances. But in this excerpt from his new book Conscience of a Conservative, he points out how conservatives focusing on fighting Barack Obama instead of working for conservative values helped put Donald Trump in the White House. And while he says liberals are to blame as well, he wisely leaves it up them to “answer for their own sins.”
It’s pretty clear that virtually no leaders in the Republican or Democratic Party are happy with Donald Trump as president. No living president of either party voted for him. Even Vice President Mike Pence strongly disagreed with and distanced himself from Trump more than once before the election.
I believe, as does Flake, that’s it’s time for the Republican Party to assert its own values. It may be necessary for the party to recreate itself. It’s done that successfully before, notably after Republicans Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and President Richard M. Nixon both resigned from office in the midst of scandals. A few years later, it was a new Republican Party, and the new president was Ronald Reagan.
But things have to change if the Republican Party is to retain any semblance of its values. “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?”