Three Cheers For Republican Senator Jeff Flake Of Arizona

Senator Jeff Flake is a rock solid conservative whose political philosophy is far removed from by own slightly left of center views of governance. But perhaps more importantly Senator Flake understands the essence of democracy and what is required to make it work for a nation and its people.

Jeff understands that spirited partisan politics is fine as long as it is debated and promoted in a reasonably honest, sincere and gentlemanly manner. He understands that those Americans of an opposing political perspective are not the enemy. He understands that without compromise democracy eventually breaks down into actual warfare (as they say war is politics by other means) as it did in our own disastrous Civil War 1861–1865. He understands that there is a minimum level of civility that all sides must strive to maintain; else the politics of destruction rears its ugly head.

It was the political bomb-throwing Speaker of the House (from 1995 -1999) Newt Gingrich, a Republican from the Georgia 6th congressional district, who first introduced the sort of no holds barred politics that eventually ended with the thoroughly debased Donald J. Trump becoming president — Gingrich of course being a strong supporter of President Trump.

To his credit Senator Flake is not a supporter of President Trump. Like most mature minded folks who understand the principles of our special kind of democracy, Jeff finds Trump an existential threat to a government by and for the people — a big mouth despot at heart.

And so writes the fair-minded senator: “I will let the liberals answer for their own sins in this regard. (There are many.) But we conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure. It was we conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our №1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president — the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us. 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.”

Sure, highly partisan Democrats will blast Jeff for failing to call for Trump’s immediate impeach and point out that the Senator has voted with Trump 95% of the time, or that that the only difference between Trump and Flake is tone, as if that is of little importance, when in point of fact tone is everything to a healthy functioning democracy.

Gridlock is not democracy in action. It is failure of democracy. There can be no compromise or functioning across party lines when political tone is poisoned by a “my way or the highway” message simply because small-minded politicians see that as an easy partisan path to electoral success.

Jeff Flake, like his collogue Senator McCain, is standing up for the spirit of democracy, proving he is no small-minded politician. If his Republican Party doesn’t likewise stand up for democracy, it might decide to primary him out of office. That would, indeed, prove the GOP to be small-minded beyond redemption.

Al Franken for president.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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