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Sen. Jeff Flake calls for GOP to return to ‘traditional conservatism’

PHOENIX — In his new book that goes on sale Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) explains that the Republican party must return to its traditional values of limited government, free trade and individual responsibility.

Flake joined “Face the Nation” on Sunday to explain why he felt compelled the write the book, “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.” The book’s title and its inspiration comes from “The Conscience of a Conservative,” which was written by former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater.

With the book, Flake calls for Republicans to recapture the civility he believes has been lost under President Donald Trump.

“And we’ve seen unfortunately too many examples of members of Congress and other elected officials using language, referring to your opponents in ways that you would have never done before, ascribing the worst motives to your opponents, and assuming that other Americans are the enemies,” Flake told host John Dickerson. “And that’s just not the way it used to be. And I don’t think it can be that way in the future.”

The 24-hour news cycle and social media has only emboldened more vicious discussion in the political spectrum, Flake said. He believes the current media environment promotes “those who yell the loudest.”

Flake thinks that overshadows and restrains politicians trying to take on difficult issues.

Of course, Flake has a history of sparring with the president, and he believes that Republicans like himself should stand up when they don’t agree with things others in powerful positions say.

Flake has openly disagreed with Trump’s decision to reverse the United States’ policy regarding Cuba, the firing of FBI director James Comey and the president’s refusal to accept the election results — among other issues.

Asked if congressmen and other political leaders are complicit if they don’t call out their president, Flake said he believes so.

“I think that, you know, obviously the last thing you want to do is wake up every morning and see a tweet … it’s tough not to just say, ‘I’m not going to respond,'” Flake said. “And we can’t respond to everything. But there are times when you have to stand up and say, “I’m sorry. This is wrong.’

“There are truths that are self-evident. And you’ve got to stand up and call — whether it’s the White House or other elected officials — to task when they’re not doing what they should. And I do think that we bear the responsibility, if we’re elected officials, to do that.”

Flake wants to see an improved demeanor in Congress that can serve as a model for young children.

He hopes that the recent health care “skinny repeal” vote that failed at the hands of fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain can lead to more productive discussion.

“I was disappointed when it died last week,” Flake said. “Having said that, I’m glad to see that now we’re talking about sitting down with our colleagues, going back to committee, going back to what we call regular order, and letting the committees and the experts deal with it, and bringing the public in more than we have before.”

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