Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) has announced that he will not run for reelection. He announced his decision on the Senate floor in a searing speech about the state of our political culture, especially at the hands of President Trump:
It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.
In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order -- that phrase being "the new normal." But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue -- with the tone set at the top.
We must never regard as "normal" the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. 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 was anticipating a rough 2018 in Arizona. In polls a year ahead of the Republican primary, he was running well behind a former state senator who held a town hall on "chemtrails." And Democrats have a strong candidate in Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who promptly reached out to Flake supporters and Goldwater Republicans, telling the Arizona Republic, "It’s been an honor to know and serve with Jeff. He is a man of integrity and a statesman who is true to his convictions – an Arizonan through and through."
Despite his political challenges, it's disappointing that another of the few Republicans willing to call out President Trump for his misguided positions, his coarseness, and his damage to "our democratic norms and ideals" will be leaving the Senate. This is precisely the moment when clear-eyed senators such as Flake and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) are needed. Flake and Corker do have another 14 months in the Senate. If they use their time well, they will deserve a new chapter in Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy's book about senators who suffered criticism and electoral losses after taking a stand on principle.
It's also unfortunate that Trump and Steve Bannon are seeking to drive out of the Republican party Reaganite leaders and replace them with protectionist populists. As Flake said:
It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican party -- the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things. It is also clear to me for the moment we have given in or given up on those core principles in favor of the more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment. To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess we have created are justified. But anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.
He said more on these topics in his recent book with the consciously Goldwateresque title Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, which is well worth reading.
I hope Senator Flake will find ways to serve the cause of limited and republican government over the next 14 months and beyond.
Cato Institute scholars Daniel J. Mitchell and Chris Edwards evaluate the plans offered by Republicans for lowering federal spending using a so-called "Cut, Cap and Balance" proposal that would make small cuts to federal spending in the short run, cap federal spending, and balance the federal budget using a tax-limited balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
- "Collective bargaining gives unions the exclusive right to speak for covered workers, many of whom may disagree with the views of the monopoly union."
- "Which two have done more to improve your life -- Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs, or Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi?"
- "A temporarily frozen debt limit could instead signal U.S. lawmakers’ resolve to get our fiscal house in order. It may even reassure investors about long-term U.S. economic prospects."
- "What makes Americans exceptional is our ornery resistance to being bossed around."
- Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) spoke recently at a Cato forum on fiscal policy about the CAP Act--here's an excerpt of his remarks:
- "Now the United States is a party to a civil war."
- The United States v. Comstock decision didn't really change the course of Necessary and Proper Clause doctrine.
- Collectivism fails the test of human reality.
- "For post-Cold War America, military adventures forever beckon — and their lessons are quickly forgotten."
- Cato Daily Podcast host Caleb Brown spoke with the junior Senator from Tennessee yesterday about his CAP Act legislation:
- DON'T FORGET: Our fiscal policy conference, "The Economic Impact of Government Spending," featuring Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), former Senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), Representative Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), and other distinguished guests, begins at 2:00 p.m. Eastern today. Please join us on the web--you can watch the conference LIVE here.
- Atlas Shrugged Motors presents the Chevy Volt.
- The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us about the moral value of voluntary charity toward the needy--it says nothing about using coercive government programs of the modern welfare state.
- It is not the role of the Court to rewrite laws for Congress.
- The failed "war on drugs" has reshaped our budgets, politics, laws, and society--and for what?
- Please join us on Thursday, April 7 at 2:00 p.m. ET for "The Economic Impact of Government Spending," featuring Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), former Sen. Phil Gramm, former IMF director of fiscal affairs department Vito Tanzi, and Ohio University economist and AEI adjunct scholar Richard Vedder. We encourage you to attend in person, but if you cannot, you can tune in online at our new live events hub.
- The last time we saw a green energy economy was in the 13th century.
- This isn't quite what we meant by "defense spending." For a refresher, see this itemized list of proposed cuts that could save taxpayers $150 billion annually.
- "Prosperity reigns where taxes are low and right to work prevails."
- In case you missed it last Friday, check out Cato director of financial regulation studies Mark A. Calabria discussing the Federal Reserve on FOX News's Glenn Beck show: