Former Sen. Jeff Flake talks extremism in U.S. politics at ASU

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake speaking at the 2018 John J. Rhodes Lecture hosted by Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University at the Galvin Playhouse in Tempe, Arizona./Gage Skidmore/Flickr

By Emma Greguska | PinalCentral

For the second time in less than a year — a tumultuous one for a number of reasons, politically, socially and economically — former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake spoke to the ASU community, fielding questions on the recent rise in anti-democratic violence in the U.S., the Capitol insurrection and the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

The March 15 virtual discussion was hosted by Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies, with American government expert and Senior Lecturer Gina Woodall serving as moderator.

Woodall introduced Flake, who joined ASU in December as a distinguished dean fellow with The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a role that involves conducting seminars, visiting classrooms, giving public lectures, meeting with students one-on-one and more.

During Monday’s discussion, Flake reflected on his political coming-of-age in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” mantra and Sen. Barry Goldwater’s “rugged individualism” inspired him to align himself with the Republican Party. But by the time Flake got to Congress in 2001, he said, the party’s interest in such ideas was already beginning to wane.

“I would argue that today … it’s changed very much. It’s more … about culture wars,” Flake said, and less about the traditional ideas that used to define the Republican Party, such as “limited government, economic freedom, free trade (and) strong American leadership.”

It’s that shift that Flake argued has resulted in the party losing power.

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