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The Conscience of Conservatives? We’ve Heard Jeff Flake’s Words, Now Let’s Look at His Actions

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by Edwin Santana

Major news on Capitol Hill yesterday as another Republican senator announced that they will not be seeking reelection this year.

Senator Bob Corker first announced back in September that he would be retiring, which freed him up to openly criticize President Trump now that he had nothing left to lose. While calling the White House an “adult daycare center” has been interesting TV, what have been the real consequences of this decision?

Before we hurt our arms patting him on the back, let’s take a look at his voting record. He voted against additional funding for disaster relief. He voted yes on “skinny repeal”. He voted yes to Scott Pruitt’s nomination. Yes to Jeff Sessions. Yes to Betsy Devos. So whether its disaster relief, healthcare, the environment, federal law enforcement, or education, Bob Corker has been a safe and reliable vote for Donald Trump.

On to Jeff Flake.

In August he published his book “Conscience of a Conservative”, his plea to return to traditional conservative values. Finding an audience receptive to the book was difficult. Democrats have no interest in returning to “trickle-down economics” and forcing our ideas of religious morality onto others. Modern day Republicans seem to only be interested in Making America Great Again and trolling liberals.

But to address Senator Flake’s recent announcement.

After announcing that he will not run for reelection, he took to the Senate floor to finally call out the President, using all the same arguments that Democrats have been using since Donald Trump rode down that golden elevator in June 2015. Senator Flake called out President Trump for his “casual undermining of our democratic ideals”, “personal attacks”, and “the flagrant disregard for truth and decency”. How much credit does a man deserve for being complicit and allowing Donald Trump to become President Trump?

Like Senator Bob Corker, we’ve heard Jeff Flake’s words, now let’s look at his actions. He voted against additional funding for disaster relief. He voted yes on “skinny repeal”. He voted yes to Scott Pruitt’s nomination. Yes to Jeff Sessions. Yes to Betsy Devos. I was able to copy and paste that segment from Senator Corker’s voting record because, surprise, they voted identically on those issues.

Both Senators Flake and Corker are reliable Republican votes, who have finally decided to speak out. They were complicit in the election of President Trump by normalizing his actions during the campaign, and enablers of President Trump’s agenda by being reliable Republican votes, with a major exception being a nay vote against disaster relief. They somehow managed to even get that wrong.

Where does this leave the Democratic Party?

I’m blown away by many of the reactions that I’m reading from my fellow Democrats in regards to Senator Flake’s announcement and denouncement of President Trump. We’re congratulating a Senator for empty words in regards to a President whom 53.9% of Americans voted against. We’re congratulating Senators who would finally speak out against a President that a majority of Americans already dislike, but who would vote to take away our health-care and destroy our environment and education systems?

Democrats should welcome our new Republican friends to the Party, but ask them why the hell they’re so late?

Democrats have to demand more of Republicans than just words of condemnation against an unpopular president, when their actions support and enable the very agenda he strives to implement.

When asked today by Chuck Todd if Senator Flake believes Trump should be removed from office, he responded “I have deep concerns about the president, but he was elected fair and square”. That is the same milquetoast, hesitant support that has rubber stamped Trump’s agenda to this point.

Before we applaud Senators Corker and Flake for joining the “Resistance”, let’s see if they will convert their strong words into strong actions that actually hold this administration accountable.