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Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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“Conscience of a Conservative . . . is a thoughtful defense of traditional conservatism and a thorough assault on the way Donald Trump is betraying it. . . . Flake is in most ways an ideal public servant. He is an ideological purist but a temperamental conciliator. On spending and free trade he takes lonely principled stands; on immigration he’s crafted difficult bipartisan compromises.”—David Brooks, New York Times
“It’s striking how many influential figures in this slim volume he manages to impale with a stick and then lightly spit-roast. . . . He offers a despairing, unsparing indictment of everyone in Congress who went along with Trump’s election.”—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
“No major elected Republican has provided a comprehensive critique of Trumpism itself. Until now. Sen. Jeff Flake’s new book, Conscience of a Conservative, is a white-hot indictment of Republican cowardice in the face of a hostile ideological takeover. It also represents the single largest act of political bravery of the Trump era.”—Michael Gerson, The Washington Post
“He presses his colleagues to call out Trump’s various attacks on conservatism, democracy, and reason. In this respect, Conscience of a Conservative may be the most clear-eyed and righteous takedown of Donald Trump from a Republican in office. . . . Conscience of a Conservative is a lucid look at what ails the Republican Party.”—New Republic
“Flake is correct that the market for the politics of inclusion and expansion has shrunk, and that Trump represents a singular threat to it. With this book, he has put his political career on the line in an attempt to expand it.”—USA Today
“The book attempts to reckon with what conservatism means in the age of Donald Trump, and its power comes from Flake’s probing of his party’s complicity in Trump’s ascendance. . . . It remains true that for all the denunciations of Trump, it isn’t yet clear how rising conservative politicians will map a future in opposition to Trump, and what form a Republican resistance to the drift of the Party might take. Flake’s book is a start.”—The New Yorker
“Flake, a NeverTrumper from the start, has written by far the toughest anti-Trump critique yet to be delivered by a Republican politician currently holding high office.”—New York
“Flake is taking a stance only a few conservatives are willing to take publicly.”—Forbes
“In the most remarkable example of public Trump-bashing, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is taking aim at the president.”—Time
“Flake is channeling his state’s rich tradition as Western outsiders.”—Los Angeles Times
“Flake’s 136-page manifesto pulls no punches. . . . There are humanizing elements and personal reflections throughout that give a glimpse into how his upbringing and faith have shaped his conservative worldview.”—NPR
About the Author
Jeff Flake is the junior United States senator from Arizona. He is a fifth-generation Arizonan who was raised on a cattle ranch in Snowflake, a town named in part for his great-grandfather. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Flake served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013, representing the East Valley. Jeff Flake and his wife, Cheryl, live in Mesa and have five children.
Top customer reviews
He was forced by his conservative principles and by his worries about his own party, the GOP, which has abandoned these principles eventually paving the way for a populist president who defies conservative values in favour of narcissistic ambitions. However, Flake analyzes that the GOP's alienation from its former core values has begun earlier, when the party's primary goal was not pursueing a conservative political agenda anymore but simply obstructing president Obama's policies. So, Trump was not an accident, but rose from an ideological vacuum that was created by the Republicans themselves.
Flake writes in a decent, soft-spoken tone which is not bragging but often self-critical and thoughtful.And he is a constitutionalist. He strongly believes in the US Constitution which had stood the test of time for two centuries. The constitutional institutions of government, the checks and balances, even the often-despised filibuster (Flake himself voted to go "nuclear") are of higher value than short-sighted political goals, tactical manoevers, personal interests and key figures.
As I have said, it is a soft-toned book and leaves it to the reader to draw the final conclusion. And with respect to the sitting president, this conclusion is unambiguous. Maybe, future historians will say sometimes, it was this book that started the landslide.
It appears that this review was the very first one which was published here on amazon.com. In the meanwhile, several critical reviews have been posted as well as critical comments to this review. The main argument of the critics is that they say that Jeff Flake is not conservative enough (or even a RINO).
Firstly, when reading such reviews, I get the impression that the critical reviewers have not read the book are are therefore not getting how Flake defines conservatism. Secondly, it is an argument ad hominem and not against the book. One reviewer said that Flake DID vote for Trump several times. Yes, he did it out of loyalty to the GOP, but his doubts are rising and he is not the only Republican with rising doubts. Therefore, he is extremely fair to the GOP by publishing his thoughts. GOP should take the book as an alarm bell.
And thirdly, paradoxically, these critical reviews prove the point that Flake makes in his book: that Trump supporters are moving away from conservatism by radicalizing it. The "Flake is not conservative enough"-argument reminds me of the typical reasoning of radical groups: the more radical, the better. And Flake says in his book, if the Republicans radicalize conservatism and if they focus on single persons (like Trump) and symbolic positions they will (1) divide the nation, (2) divide the conservative movement, (3) divide the GOP (think of the senators voting against Trump's bills), and (4) finally will drive the GOP into a minority position. Trump's public approval scores are desastrous. And every Republican congressman facing midterm elections will think twice about publicly siding with Trump.
Still, many Republicans, including Flake himself, are supporting Trump and even voting for bills which they do not accept completely. Still, they are convinced that the conservative agenda is more important than single issues. But this book is the writing on the wall that this may change.
My strong recommendation is to read the book BEFORE saying Flake is not conservative enough. IMO, Flake writes about good, old, traditional conservatism that does not mean nationalism, mercantilism and xenophobia. Conservatives have always been fighting FOR free trade, for the sake of prosperity. Have so many conservatives forgotten about David Ricardo's comparative advantages?
Though my voting record would likely identify me as a liberal, I read "Conscience of a Conservative" with an open and eager mind. Senator Flake is experienced in Washington and has a solid understanding of both international politics and international trade. I learned much from his description of the negative effects of nationalism and withdrawal from trade relationships. I would say that I have a clearer understanding of some major issues after reading this book.
Nonetheless, 3 stars is all I could give the work. Mr. Flake fails this reader and, I think, fails his conservative cause, but failing to explain how his conservative philosophy addresses some of the current problems that plague our democratic system. While he casually mentions the "pay to play" nature of Washington influence, he offers no suggestion about how a principled conservative would deal with it. Additionally, he fails to mention at all, the huge amount of money at the disposal of the Senate Majority Leader and associated super-PACs which bind loyalty through massive control of campaigns. He never explains how his principled conservatism would address the 2nd and 3rd generation poverty and hopelessness that permeates so much of the South and Midwest industrial states. Finally, after stating that when a legislator has the opportunity to protect many people and protect them from great harm, he failed to vote with his fellow Senator from Arizona against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Apparently, protecting 25-40 million people was not enough motivation to challenge the will of his wealthy backers. While I consider myself to be conservative, meaning I favor smaller and more limited role for governments at all levels, I'm not persuaded that Mr. Flake's conservatism is for me.