Why Jeff Flake Matters: New at Reason

“These are challenging times,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) said with a little self-effacing chuckle. “The definition of what it means to be conservative has shifted dramatically over the last year or so.”

We were at that most oxymoronic of Washington, D.C., events—a libertarian fundraiser for a major-party elected official. There are only about five people I’d consider doing this for, I have heard almost verbatim from hosts at two separate such gatherings in the grim political year of 2017. Los cincos amigos: Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) and Mike Lee (R–Utah); Reps. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R–Ky.); and Flake.

And then there were four.

One week after the fundraiser, Flake made his exit from the world of electoral competition, announcing in an emotional Senate speech that he was no longer seeking re-election in 2018. “I will not be complicit,” the shaky-voiced senator declared. “We must never meekly accept


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