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Column: Jeff Flake’s Decision Is Bad for Democrats

The Trickle Down

The Trickle Down is Salute Magazine‘s weekly column by Political Writer Amanda Godula.  The Trickle Down is a weekly look into what’s need-to-know, fresh takes on trends, and the inevitable controversies from the political arena. Let’s dig in and see what’s happening this week.

Flake announces retirement.  Democrats should not celebrate.

The political climate in President Donald Trump’s administration has been more than polarizing – it’s been fragmented within the polarized parties.  Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced he would not be seeking re-election and condemned Trump’s actions.  Democrats should be thrilled.

But, this is the post-Trump era – there’s no easy win in politics.

“I have decided that I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles,” Flake said during his speech about not seeking re-election.

Flake barely won his seat in 2013 – eking out a win by about 3% to his Democrat opponent.  With the possibility of another Senatorial seat to win in 2019, Democrats should be celebrating potential possibility.  Right?  Nope.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) thinks Dems should be scared.

“His retirement is deeply troubling to me because he represents a principled and patriotic Republican Party, one that has long championed strong American leadership around the world, and one I now fear is falling apart.”

He’s not wrong.

The Republican Party is further splintering and pushing out moderate Republicans.  Flake joins Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) as a moderate not seeking re-election.  Other Senators like John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Susan Collins (R-ME) have not been shy about allying themselves with Democrats on voting.  The commonality?  They are moderate Republicans in the Senate.

Democrats underestimated the electability of a man who said he sexually assaults women (the infamous “grab her by the p—y” video).  Will they underestimate the value of moderates in Congress?

Losing another moderate could mean less of a likelihood of bipartisanship and more polarizing policymaking.  Think I’m wrong?  Consider the Betsy DeVos vote, the Jeff Sessions vote, the arbitration rule vote, among others.  The parties overwhelmingly vote together – there is little bipartisanship.

When the alleged genital-grabber assumed office of president, he had a Republican House, Senate, and a sizable majority of the governorship.  He had the opportunity to create real change in policies for America, but he’s been working very hard to splinter his own party.  Now, including Jeff Flake in his attacks.

“We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve,” Flake said on the Senate floor.

But, Flake leaves us all with something we should heed:

“Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough.”

Democrats, rise today and say, “enough”.  You have one year to utilize moderate Republicans before you begin losing them one-by-one.  Make the most of them and get stuff done before nationalism becomes the majority.

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