In an interview with The Washington Post, former Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said that will not be voting for Donald Trump this November. For the first time in his life, he’ll be voting for a Democrat for president: Joe Biden.
The best thing for the future of the Republican party would be “a sound defeat” for Donald Trump in November, Jeff Flake told The Post. “No doubt. Long term for the Republican Party, you bet. And for conservatism as well.”
Flake also made it clear that he is “not trying to burn the place down or anything else,” but that he’s trying to get back what he feels is the lost soul of the Republican party.
While many GOP senators who were critical of Trump early in the 2016 campaign, such as South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, have made a stunning reversal to become some of his closest political allies, Flake remained defiantly and true to his principles. When he announced his retirement from the Senate in the fall of 2018 amid politically untenable approval ratings, he delivered a scathing speech against the state of politics in Washington that spared no one, not least of all his Republican colleagues nor Trump.
Flake also criticize Arizona Republicans for the public embrace of the president’s hard-nosed political style, lamenting that they have been complicit in a “total capitulation of the party to Trumpism.”
In February, more than 14,000 people flocked to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix for one of the president’s notoriously lively and raucous campaign rallies. In years past, many Arizona lawmakers were reticent about appearing onstage with Trump. That’s no longer the case.
“The other night it was painful to watch the rally in Arizona: the president onstage with virtually all of my Republican colleagues from Arizona — the governor on down, some of whom had been reluctant previously to be on a campaign stage with the president. But who have just completely and utterly thrown in,” Flake said.
It is not all gloom and doom for his party, though, Flake suggested. In private conversations, many Republicans acknowledge they’ve submitted to a “trade-off” in which they publicly tolerate Trump’s bombast and anti-institutionalism in exchange for his signature on conservative policies, his nomination of conservative judges and his enactment of tax and regulatory reform. That trade-off is not intended to last forever.