#NeverTrump Republicans in Washington, D.C. are becoming unhinged – and their ongoing unspooling runs much deeper than the doleful, “fake statesman” floor speech given by wildly unpopular U.S. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. This left-leaning lawmaker saw the handwriting on the wall regarding his own political future (or lack thereof) and decided to use his resignation address to wax indignant against President Donald Trump.
Never mind that Flake – now a martyr for the Washington establishment he so stridently opposed during his early days in the D.C. swamp – is losing his Senate seat thanks to his failed reinvention as a status quo liberal, not anything Trump has done to him.
Flake is being run out of town because he threw his lot in with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the man a majority of GOP primary voters believe epitomizes the swamp. As one Beltway scribe noted, Flake’s war with Trump and his sanctimonious Senate speech “were opportunistic attempts to gain sympathy from the city he once pledged to shrink.”
Trump? He is simply providing a contrast to the prevailing, business-as-usual GOP governance – a long-overdue dose of reality and accountability that Flake and his fellow establishment Republicans did everything within their power to keep from crashing their party.
They failed – and now they are paying the price.
Trump’s bombastic personality and politically incorrect populism are clearly painful irritants for those Republican politicians who have spent years opposing the limited government, lower taxes bedrock upon which their party was intended to stand. But what we’re witnessing now in Washington is much bigger than any one individual or any ideological label. It’s a fundamental upheaval – one driven by frustrated voters who are sick of suffering through consistently abysmal outcomes exacerbated by chronic Republican capitulations.
These voters are done with the double-talk. And no amount of insider misdirection is going to fool them.
Flake isn’t the only GOP politician trying to pin his abandonment of true conservatism on Trump, though. Let’s not forget Obamcare savior John McCain of Arizona or Tennessee’s Bob Corker – who singlehandedly pulled the Iranian nuclear deal out of the fire for former president Barack Obama.
Both of these liberal Republicans have gone apoplectic against Trump as their true ideological allegiances have been exposed.
Over in the House, numerous #NeverTrumpers including Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania – who led the charge against the president’s proposed budget cuts – are also venting their spleen against Trump and his allies as they “exit stage left.” In fact, Dent recently referred to supporters of the president’s agenda who rallied against him in his district as a “buffoon bus” and “freak show.”
What a statesman, huh?
Then there are Republican lawmakers like Adam Kinzinger, who last August declared that Trump was leading the GOP toward “a loss that not only undermines our conservative values, but makes it even more difficult to defend them and shape the future of our nation.”
Kinzinger, like Flake, has apparently forgotten what “conservative” values actually are.
One of the worst-rated Republicans in Washington, D.C. on tax-and-spending issues, Kinzinger’s only explanation for his chronic fiscal liberalism has been to attack the groups that issue these ratings – all of them. Hard to believe he campaigned in 2010 as a Tea Partier, isn’t it?
As much as Kinzinger wished otherwise, Trump didn’t lose. He won. Not only that, he carried Kinzinger’s district by 17 percentage points in the process. Seems like the “buffoon bus” should pay a visit to his district, too, and show him the same handwriting on the wall Corker, Dent, Flake and so many other establishment Republicans are being forced to read right now.
Read … and weep.
Rick Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government.