As Senate Republicans pick up the pieces of an embarrassing Obamacare repeal defeat, one that was self-imposed, those up for re-election in 2018 are grappling for an explanation.

Like other’s before him, Arizona’s Junior Senator Jeff Flake says returning to traditional conservatism is the GOP’s only hope of success.

Joining Face the Nation Sunday, Flake said the Republican Party has “lost its way.” Flake is also peddling his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle”.

CBS Reports:

Sen. Jeff Flake says the Republican Party has “lost its way,” and is urging members to turn back to what he calls “traditional conservatism” — after a particularly contentious week in Washington.

“We’ve given in to nativism and protectionism. And I think that if we’re going to be a governing party in the future and a majority party we’ve got to go back to traditional conservatism,” Flake said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

In his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle,” the Arizona Republican — who will likely face challenges in his race for reelection next year — outlines some of his differences with President Trump.

Flake writes in his new book, “When we excuse on our side what we attack on the other, then we are hypocrites. If we do that as a practice, then we are corrupt. If we continually accept this conduct as elected officials, then perhaps we shouldn’t be elected officials.”

Asked whether he believes Republican leaders are complicit in this notion if they don’t call out the president, Flake responded, “I do think so.”

“The last thing you want to do is wake up every morning and see a tweet… You know, 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,” Flake added. “And you’ve got to stand up and call — whether it’s the White House or other elected officials — to task when they’re– 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 said the 24-hour news cycle and impact of social media is, in large part, helping drive the Republican Party apart.

“I think certainly the modern media culture values those who yell the loudest,” Flake said. “And so the tougher path is frankly to have the kind of demeanor that some people might call boring.”

There’ve been plenty of GOP post-mortems following Trump’s ascendancy to Republican Party leader, and many prescriptions for riding the populist wave back to dry ground (some much better than others).

But Flake’s calls for a return to conservatism ring as hollow as all those before. In 2016, voters made abundantly clear that they’ve little interest in conservatism or boilerplate platitudes masquerading as Buckly Jr.’s brainchildren.

Reagan conservatism was fantastic in the 80s and perfect for that decade, but thirty years later, we’re surrounded by a populace largely disinterested in anything politically or socially conservative.

Blaming social media will not fix the Republican party. That beast is here to stay. Releasing a book and rebranding as a card-carrying Buckley conservative just in time for re-election is not only tired and trite but in no way does it advance the cause of conservatism nor the Republican agenda.

As long as Republicans continue to look backward rather than forward to the road ahead, they’ll never be the governing party. And as long as Republican politicians choose to blame others while ignoring the changing landscape before them, earnestly engaging in societal and political evolutions, they’ll continue to be dull and ineffectual.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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