Jeff Flake

Jeff Flake: America 'By No Means Immune' to Authoritarianism

"The road to democracy is not irreversible-not in Moscow, not in America, not anywhere."



In his farewell speech from the Senate floor today, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) warned of rising authoritarianism. "Let us recognize from this place here today that the shadow of tyranny is once again enveloping parts of the globe," he said. "And let us recognize, as authoritarianism reasserts itself in country after country, that we are by no means immune."

The speech was often personal in nature, including anecdotes about Flake's time in Namibia and his appreciation for Václav Havel's 1990 address to the U.S. Congress. "I learned more about democracy from the lives of those around me who aspired to it," Flake said, "rather than those who experienced it as a birthright."

Flake said he was "optimistic about the future of America" but noted that his "optimism is due more to the country that my parents gave to me than it is due to the present condition of our civic life."

"We of course are testing the institutions of American liberty in ways that none of us likely ever imagined we would—and in ways that we never should again," Flake said. "The threats to our democracy from within and without are real, and none of us can say with confidence how the situation that we now find ourselves in will turn out."

Flake denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "strongman" who "hijacked democracy in his own country" and "is determined to do so everywhere." Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Flake noted, liberal democracy did not win out in Russia. "The road to democracy is not irreversible—not in Moscow, not in America, not anywhere," he said.

"As we in America, during this moment of political dysfunction and upheaval, contemplate the hard-won conventions and norms of democracy, we must continually remind ourselves that none of this is permanent, and that it must be fought for constantly," the senator said.

Flake frequently criticizes the president, and in the past he has linked Trump to the autocrats of other nations. Today, however, he refrained from directly using the word Trump, though he did note that "over the past two years" he has broached the topic of "the threats to our democracy" from the Senate floor. "And there will be time enough later to return to it in other settings," he added.

Bonus link: Matt Welch on "Jeff Flake and the Hated—Yet Vital—Libertarian Center."

NEXT: Taxypayers Off the Hook for Sex Harassment Settlements in Congress: Reason Roundup

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  1. In his farewell speech from the Senate floor today, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R?Ariz.)

    Now that’s some good news right there.

    1. True dat. No abutiere patientia nostra fer shoor!

    2. Now that’s some good news right there.

      For stale-thinking, authoritarian bigots, sure!

      1. Oh I just knew that would draw one of your typically stereotypic insults. You are such a willing troll.

        1. If you didn’t like predictable insults, you wouldn’t be here.

          1. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|12.13.18 @ 3:16PM|#
            “If you didn’t like predictable insults, you wouldn’t be here.”

            You, either, asshole.

            1. Second, you and I know damn well that if Arty ever met any of us face to face he would be groveling before us in fear.

              Just a weak, stupid, unoriginal gutless punk.

          2. Check your own narrow-mindedness and bigoty, slaver!

    3. Is that because he doesn’t suck Trump and Putin’s dicks?

  2. Double negatives are not unconfusing.

  3. authoritarianism reasserts itself in country after country”

    when have all these other countries not been authoritarians and just because some European countries claim to be democracies does not mean they aren’t authoritarians.

    1. What about the People’s Democratic Republic of East Germany, with its Antifascister wall?

    2. If you think western European countries are authoritarian then you really have drunk to much Trump kool-aid. I hope you at least got the grape flavored kind.

      1. Charlie Gard’s parents thought they were authoritarian as they begged to take their dying child to a doctor they believed could help, but were instead forced to watch him die. Ashya King’s parents certainly thought they were authoritarian as they took their child and fled across Europe to prevent their State from strapping their kid down and burning out his eyes, his ears and his brain (he is fine now, by the way, without the medieval treatment). There is no doubt that Karina Hansen in Denmark felt they were authoritarian when they busted into her home and dragged her out screaming (‘They are killing me’ she was later heard to say). Sophia Mirze certainly felt they were authoritarian when they forced her into a mental hospital before she died — of nerve inflammation in her brain and spinal cord according to her autopsy — her decline possibly a consequences of the authoritarian acts perpetrated upon her against her will. If you think western European countries are NOT authoritarian, then you have not been present or aware in the last few decades, or perhaps you do not read the news. Meanwhile, in Europe, it is a CRIME to say that The Prophet is a pedophile for having married a nine year old girl and CONSUMMATED THE MARRIAGE. A bastion of freedom, Europe is NOT. If you cannot even talk about child rape, it is much more difficult to stop it.

      2. Note to foreign readers: this is a textbook example of the Argument from Intimidation. See

  4. Flake made a bet on challenging Trump for the nomination in 2020, and it was a bad bet. I suspect Trump’s support mostly had to do with the Republicans doing well enough in the 2018 primaries–and that was mostly about the economy.

    It’s a perception vs. reality thing.

    Whether people supported Trump’s deregulation and tax cuts isn’t the issue. You can poll on those issues, and they may even come back unpopular. When it comes to deregulation and tax cuts, however, perception doesn’t really matter over a two year period. The reality is that deregulation and tax cuts made great things happen to the economy on Main Street (rather than Wall Street), and how the voters feel about the economy is what translates into votes.

    Slick Willy was right. It is the economy, stupid. You can boink the intern on the Oval Office desk, lie to the American people about it, burn women and children to death, leave the Rwandans to hack each other to death–and it doesn’t matter at the polls if people feel good about the economy.

    I guess you can make all kinds of crazy tweets, pay off porn stars, and do all the crazy shit Trump does, too, Mr. Flake. It’s all about the economy. Trump was smart about two things: tax cuts and deregulation, and now his most likely Republican challenger looks like he has a snowball’s chance in Arizona.

    1. “a snowball’s chance in Arizona”

      Did I ever tell you about the booster who said all Arizona needed was water and plenty of good people?

      A cynic replied, “that’s all Hell needs.”

      1. Snowball’s do okay up in Northern Arizona. Today’s high in Flagstaff is 40 degrees.

        1. Snowballs do not do okay at 40 degrees.

          1. That’s the high. The low is well below freezing. It’s colder there today than Boulder.

            1. Must be all those progressive potheads sparking up in Boulder. Don’t they know that they are causing a net increase in CO2 emissions and that this is directly causing their local heat wave? Don’t they think of the children?!

              On the other hand, libertarian potheads know this is bullshit. We could all use fewer progressive potheads in our fight against reality climate change.

            2. Must be all those progressive potheads sparking up in Boulder. Don’t they know that they are causing a net increase in CO2 emissions and that this is directly causing their local heat wave? Don’t they think of the children?!

              On the other hand, libertarian potheads know this is bullshit. We could all use fewer progressive potheads in our fight against reality climate change.

      2. Hell’s got plenty of good people. Haven’t you heard? It’s Heaven for the weather, and Hell for the company.

    2. 2016 was not about the economy. Trump touched a nerve that other politicians were scared to death of — political correctness run amok. No matter how much he is worth, or how many $100K escapades he had, he sneered at the political correctness which so many people hate, the hypocrisy and shallow thinking that put political correctness, gender identity, anti-religion faddishness, green-spotted salamanders, and expensive “clean” energy over ordinary every-day life and bills to pay.

      People don’t get to choose which parts of a campaign or a politician they agree with. They vote for the person, because that’s all they can vote for. In 2016, enough of them voted against politically correct Hillary to put Trump in the White House.

      Economy my ass. It was doing well enough by just crawling along, and people were used to it just crawling along and doing well enough. Political correctness was the winning factor.

      1. “2016 was not about the economy.”

        Not so sure about that.

        Trump won because swing voters in rust belt swing states (Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, western Pennsylvania) felt like they’d been left behind economically.

        Surely you don’t think that the reason those blue-collar states turned their backs on the Democrats and Hillary was entirely unrelated to their economic performance under Obama.

        1. Not so sure about that.

          You can win an election on more than one issue. It’s allowed.

          Also, while not explicitly stated, the “It’s the economy, stupid.” isn’t about attaining the Presidency as much as retaining the Presidency once attained.

          1. I’ll buy that although Clinton won after the economy slumped during H.W.’s term. The economy made H.W. weak at the ballot box.

            1. If Perot had not run, HW almost certainly would have beaten Clinton.

          2. Agree it was both. I didn’t vote for the guy but got a kick out of him verbally abusing the PC squishes.

            It came down to rust belt swing voters believing he’d act on the protectionist rhetoric and Hil wouldn’t despite using the same tack when she bothered to show up in the rust belt.I’d say they were right.

      2. What the fuck is going on in the comments today… “THAT’S NOT THE REASON, THIS IS THE REASON TRUMP WON”. It wasn’t a single issue win. He had appeal to all republicans because he was a republican, and that’s all they need. He appealed to enough independents because he wasn’t an old school politician and they wanted something, anything new. Plus there is the whole issue of gerrymandering being heavily republican leaning because the R’s were smart enough to push to win local and states elections so they got the magic marker to redraw districts while D’s were in the corner circle jerk celebrating with each other.

      3. You make a very good point.

  5. “…and I did all I could to help it along!”

  6. One’s view on the current state of authoritarianism really depends upon one’s point of view. Japanese Americans , Black Americans, women, Catholics, Irish, Italians, etc. All have been on the the recipients of institutional discrimination at one point or another during the golden years of American liberalism.

    1. Correct. There has already been an American President who put American citizens in concentration camps.

      Liberal Democrat and progressive icon Franklin Roosevelt.

      The dark cloud of fascism is always descending upon Republicans but it always turns out to be composed of progressives and Democrats.

      1. If we’re trying to shoehorn the term fascism into today’s political climate, I’d argue that both sides embrace some fascist principles. But being socialist doesn’t make leftists fascist any more than being nationalist makes conservatives fascists. But that won’t stop the partisans from either side from using the term as a cudgel against the other.

          1. Makes sense that centrists would be likeliest to be open to both the progressive and conservative flavors of authoritarianism. But I’d still contend that while fascism is a form of extreme authoritarianism, all authoritarians aren’t necessarily fascists. Fascists differ from communists, for example, in that fascists rejected the egalitarian motives of communists (as did Stalin). Both use government force, and both suppress individualism in favor of the state, but their underlying philosophies are different.

            1. Fascism is based on national solidarity communism is based on class solidarity. The fascists generally used to be international socialists who found that class identity is a weak motivator compared to national identity and abandoned it accordingly. They then marketed themselves as a barrier against the communists. Both thought classical liberalism was a dead letter.

          2. It might be time to take another look at how we’re defining “centrism,” then.

            1. Some of the questions are a little vague. But mainly I think they’re identifying that the vast majority of what would be considered “centrist” are purely pragmatic. No particular ideology drives them, just how they’re doing in their person life.

        1. Read Hitler’s intro to the Enabling Act (Wikipedia, several languages) and the NSDAP platform. These are clearly Republican xenophobic coercion claiming to be on a mission from God. This fits the Republican and Prohibition parties to a tee-totalitarian. Original sources trump hearsay every time.

          1. Original sources trump hearsay every time.

            So the only way to know would be to ask Hitler rather than relying on your hackneyed heresay.

            1. You know who else wanted to ask Hitler?

            2. 1. The real mad.casual could spell hearsay. 2. The NSDAP platform and Enabling act speech are public documents familiar to all but Republicans.

          2. This fits the Republican and Prohibition parties to a tee-totalitarian
            A pro-choice, pro-gun control, anti-smoking, pro-drug, race-baiting, corporatist vegetarian leading an army of homosexuals (SA), sounds like a DNC fantasy candidate to me.

        2. Using an economic model so close to the Fascist one that FDRs cabinet and Mussolini had a mutual admiration society in the mid thirties might have something with why that description is appropriate.

        3. Republicans can be shittty, but they aren’t pure evil. Progressives are truly evil creatures.

      2. Abe Lincoln put people in concentration camps first.

        1. Wha’d he do after that? Fricasee them?

    2. White Americans currently

      1. Pull my other one.

  7. >>>”the threats to our democracy” from the Senate floor.

    included Jeff Flake.

  8. Did he wear a toga while he was jabbering?

    1. Was he playing a fiddle? Was Rome burning in the background?

      1. At least Caligula appointed the whole horse to the Senate, not just the back end.

        1. Fiddling while Rome burned was Nero, not Caligula.

          1. I’m altering the metaphor. Pray I do not alter it any further.

  9. Democracy and Freedom are two entirely different things. Unrestrained democracy is authoritarianism. Jeff’s too dumb to see it.

  10. Jeff should know about his totalitarian buddies and former co-looters. It’s a useful rule of thumb that DEM and GOP looters seldom lie about each other, but always lie about the real competition–the eternally vigilant, non-aggressing, burgeoning LP.

    1. They never even mention the LP. So WTF are you jibber jabbering about?

  11. Flake denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “strongman” who “hijacked democracy in his own country” and “is determined to do so everywhere.”

    I wouldn’t spend so much time criticizing conservatives and Republicans if more of them could be as principled as the likes of Jeff Flake and David Frum and Max Boot. It’s encouraging that Flake mentioned Putin by name. As has been thoroughly documented by now, Putin personally approved a Russian plot to hack our election so they could install a puppet President who may have been a Kremlin asset since 1987. Now we patriotic Americans are counting on Robert Mueller to unravel the greatest conspiracy in world history and get us out of this mess.

    1. Patriotic Americans are more looking forward to running out the clock on the Goober King and his uneducated, downscale, gullible followers than expecting Mr. Mueller to do much beyond illuminating the sketchy character and conduct of the Trump campaign and administration.

      1. You have a lot of great insights, but you’re wrong here. We committed members of #TheResistance are counting on Mueller to remove Putin’s Puppet from office before he completes a full term. In the absolute best case scenario, Hillary Clinton will then become President.

        1. You don’t understand America’s educated, accomplished, liberal-libertarian mainstream.

          1. You don’t understand sarcasm. Or anything for that matter.

          2. Arty, you’re debating with a parody account, you dumbfuck dropout progtard.

      2. Only 6 more years!

  12. “The road to democracy is not irreversible?not in Moscow, not in America, not anywhere.”

    You say that as if it’s a bad thing.

    1. I think it usually is. There aren’t a lot of examples of societies moving away from democracy and towards more respect for individual liberty.
      But the idea that more democracy is always a good is not a good one either.

      1. Moving towards democracy is a step away from individual liberty.

        You want to use democratic methods, but you don’t want to be a democracy. Democracies lead to tyranny.

  13. While the president he decries as an authoritarian returns federal land to state control, signs tax cut legislation, appoints commissioners who kill net neutrality, pledges to cut two regulations for every new regulation implemented, advocates criminal justice reform and promises to sign legislation reducing prison sentences, and so on. Just the changes in “Waters of the U.S.” regulations announced this week represent a substantial rollback of federal power. Jeff Flake is retarded. Stop pretending he isn’t. Donald Trump reduces the power of the executive branch every week, while a chorus of babbling idiots howl about authoritarianism. It’s pathetic. Stop it.

    1. That cherry-picked list — nothing about the wall, tariffs, Saudi Arabia, statist womb management, Guantanamo, the drug war, executive orders, increased military spending, bigoted and cruel authoritarianism with respect to immigration, the death penalty, military belligerence — resembles the work of a rural evangelical striving to defend Pres. Trump before a gullible audience.

      Carry on, clingers. Without the support of libertarians.

      1. Come on guys, the Libertarian Central Committee has issued its directive, remember your oath to strictly follow the Party line. It’s what libertarians are famous for, after all.

      2. The death penalty? What are you gibbering about? Name the people Trump has executed.

        As for the rest of the list, Trump has made it pretty clear that increased tariffs are a negotiating tactic aimed at convincing other countries to lower their tariffs so American goods can be marketed overseas. His goal is a low-to-zero-tariff world, and his tactic is to punish countries with punitive tariffs. You mistake a tactic for a principle.

        Guantanamo? Dear god, yes, that was totally Trump’s idea. That bastard. “Military belligerence.” Are you really this silly? Start here, and compare:

        Reality exists. Embrace it.

        1. Trump is a huge fan of the death penalty, you half-educated bigot. He’s roughly as libertarian as Elizabeth Warren is, you superstitious rube.

          1. Name the people who have been executed by the federal government during the Trump presidency. Not much on facts, are you?

        2. “As for the rest of the list, Trump has made it pretty clear that increased tariffs are a negotiating tactic aimed at convincing other countries to lower their tariffs so American goods can be marketed overseas.”

          The real world result of Trump’s tariffs has been almost the polar opposite of what he aimed at.

          “Reality exists. Embrace it.”

          Try it yourself.

          1. And time has stopped, and the negotiations and maneuvering have permanently ended, right? Notice that your response doesn’t dispute that Trump’s declared intention is to push other nations to lower their tariffs, or that his ultimate goal isn’t to live in a low-tariff world. I agree that his effort may fail, or even backfire and worsen the situation he intends to correct. But the argument here is about authoritarianism. Trump trying to and failing to force other countries to lower tariffs can be evidence of failure without being evidence of authoritarianism.

      3. Here, let’s also address your mindless gibbering about Trump’s dangerous authoritarian use of executive orders. Like Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.”

        Reducing regulation! That’s authoritarian!

        Babbling mindless child. Orange man bad! He doinged a execative orders!

        1. Do you believe fairy tales are true, Chris Bray? I’m trying to gauge the value of your advice.

          1. If your comments get any dumber, I’ll suspect you of actually being Jeff Flake.

            1. Jesus Chris, Arty is a ducking retard, but that would be galacticly stupid.

      4. Carry on, clingers.

        So sayeth the Reason Gecko.

  14. “Trump administration’s Waters of the United States rule gives power back to states.”


    “Shortly after he took office, Trump issued an executive order directing EPA and the Army to review and replace, as appropriate, the 2015 definition with one that restores the rule of law and the role of states and landowners in managing their land and water resources.”

    My god, it’s chilling. It’s like watching Hitler’s rise to power!

  15. Sorry Jeffrey, the Orange Man so far has been the least authoritarian president in action in recent history. He may not be the most polite but I’m hard pressed to see where he’s done much to add to the existing authoritarian infrastructure that Flake seems to be perfectly fine with, examples of subtraction from that infrastructure though seems to be numerous.

    1. “…the least authoritarian president in action in recent history.”

      Exactly that. It’s remarkable to watch the disconnect between Trump’s actions and the howling of the Orange Man Bad media.

  16. Good riddance, asswipe, and don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.

    I just can’t wait to see who Welchie Boy and his junior grade fugazi clones adopt as their new favorite fake republican come next year.

    1. Any replacement of a Republican senator by a Democratic senator is, in current conditions, to be applauded.

      1. If you’re a slaver piece of shit like you, then yes.

        Not if you’re a real human.

  17. Christ, what an asshole.

  18. Right message, wrong messenger.

  19. I’ll miss Jeff Flake but…

  20. I completely forgot that mindless cunt was leaving.

    There is a Christmas after all.

  21. Since he was in the Senate since 2012, and the House before that, is he really that slow a learner, or was he just not paying attention?

  22. Considering all the people Jeff Flake has pissed off I have to admit I like the guy.

    1. That puts you with some pretty awful company.

      1. Good I will fit right in then.

  23. Flake really can’t drop dead fast enough to suit me.

    The Obama administration was the most corrupt ever, and the Deep State is engaged in a coup. Silence from Flake.

    But Orange Man Bad.

  24. What a woos. He makes Gary Johnson look positively manly by comparison.

    1. Flake is angling for a TV gig. He wants to be the next Joe Scarborough. Flake is certainly a big enough scumbag sellout.

  25. Never was there a more fitting name for a man.

  26. This is funny coming from a guy who gives aid and comfort to America’s authoritarians.

  27. Flake is right that America is not immune from authoritarianism, but the gravest threat is from the globalist left, who continue to follow the Russian KGB playbook as outlined by KGB defector Bezmenov: foster decadence (drugs, pedophilia, loose morals); foster demoralization (denounce the founding fathers and their principles, especially their efforts to protect against tyranny); create social chaos (promote identity politics and denounce the idea of human brotherhood); instigate a civil war or revolution (finance revolutionary groups); and plan a quick and savage coup. All these ideas are supported by the globalist left, who want to bring the old USSR to America.

  28. Flake is such a tool. Most of the so called authoritarianism he is whining about is… Democracy in action!

    He doesn’t like the fact that normal working people don’t agree with the bullshit ideas the globalists elites have planned for them… So they have voted in people who are actually nationalists, who actually want to do what is right for their people. That is not authoritarianism. That’s democracy, or populism in some of the cases around the world.

    Democracy and populism are not ALWAYS good things… Nor are they always bad things. But the current resurgence of nationalism is a much needed counter balance to over exuberant globalism that has been running rampant, thanks to being relentlessly pushed by the elites for decades, even when it has NOT been liked by the majority of normal people in their countries.

    Some aspects of globalism are inevitable, and not bad in the least. But this whole no borders, nobody is allowed to retain a culture of their own shit… Well that’s NOT needed, and NOT a good thing.

    Good riddance Jeffy boy, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out!

  29. The libertarian hero Jeff Flake is ending his career in the Senate by introducing a carbon tax bill. Punishing economic activity with state appropriation is very libertarian, don’t you think?

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