Politics

Historian: GOP Wins Because of ‘Backlash Against’ D.C. Establishment

Davis Hanson says 'ungracious' senators like Jeff Flake don't understand people 'reluctantly voted' for them

Military historian and political columnist Victor Davis Hanson said during an interview Tuesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that Never-Trumper Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) “really shows a lot of ingratitude” for rejecting President Donald Trump and the conservative-populist wave across the country that gave the Republican Party the White House, the Senate, and the House.

Hanson, a Martin and Illie Anderson senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of classics emeritus at California State University, Fresno, noted that Trump was set to conduct a rally in Arizona Tuesday evening in a state where both of its U.S. senators largely stand against him and his political agenda. Both Flake and Sen. John McCain have resisted Trump throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and into his presidency.

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And with the deeply unpopular Flake coming up for re-election in 2018, Hanson said that the senator could do with both a little introspection and a little comprehension of the political landscape that led Trump to victory.

“The reason that [Republicans] have the legislatures now and the governorships and the Senate and the House and the presidency and the Supreme Court was because there was a backlash against [House Speaker] Paul Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and Jeff Flake,” Hanson said.

Noting that Flake never contributed to the Tea Party movement or to “Trumpism” in any meaningful fashion, Hanson warned that the Arizona senator’s failure to gauge the political climate correctly could deliver disastrous consequences for his re-election bid next year.

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“[Flake] really shows a lot of ingratitude because he doesn’t understand that the people who voted for these populists reluctantly voted for him,” Hanson said. “And if they hadn’t been there, he would have lost. And I hope he does lose, because nothing’s worse than being ungracious. And that’s what he is. And he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

In particular, Hanson pointed to Flake’s weak stance on immigration — an issue that deeply concerned Arizona voters. Whereas Trump called for strict border security, a wall on the southern border and a crackdown on illegal immigration and deportations, Flake makes a point of siding with “immigration,” avoiding “illegal immigration” and taking more of an open-borders stance.

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“[Flake’s] very careful in the choice of his words because he didn’t use the word ‘illegal immigration.’ And he did that for a purpose because he wants to conflate the two,” Hanson said. “Trump is making immigration legal, meritocratic and diverse, which is what we want.”

“And I don’t know why he’d want to be on that side of open borders. But that’s, in fact, what he’s for,” Hanson added, noting that Flake repeatedly has denounced Trump for “destroying” both the Republican Party and conservatism. “But Jeff Flake does not also see that his paradigm where he says, ‘we are going to lose the Republican Party,’ has lost the Republican Party.”

But the Republican Party isn’t the only major party struggling to unite around a common message, Hanson noted as he pointed to the Democratic Party’s struggle to placate liberal progressives while wooing the more moderate voters it lost to Trump in 2016. In particular, Hanson warned the Democratic Party against siding too strongly with the progressives clamoring to remove any and all references to Confederate soldiers and slave owners — a topic that deepened in the wake of the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville that left one woman dead and witnessed clashes between far-right and far-left protesters.

“I think it’s a losing issue. I think the polls show that. And [the Democrats] have to ask themselves why 2017 and not 2014 or 2010? What galvanized them suddenly?” Hanson said, adding that “this progressive trajectory is not going to look good if they continue” to push it to the forefront of the party’s campaign platform, instead of economic and national-security issues.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

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