It’s tough,” explained Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) after announcing his retirement last week. “I’m competitive. I like to fight these battles. But I also know that I couldn’t run the kind of race that I would be proud of and win in a Republican primary at this time.”
I know Jeff Flake just a little bit and I like him. But it is time for him to go.
Not because polls indicate he would lose, though. A loss might hurt the senator’s pride, but it is time for him to exit for a more substantial reason: because spending a career in power in Washington doesn’t appear to improve a person’s soul.
Or help the country, either.
I cannot forget that, years ago, Mr. Flake broke the self-imposed term limits pledge he had made to voters when first running for Congress. Now, having spent the last 17 years in Washington, a victory next year would have meant at least 24 uninterrupted years in power. And then six years down the road, a lease on six more, of course . . . and so many multiples of six to follow . . . for the rest of his life.
Today, instead, I’m confident that Citizen Jeff Flake will accomplish more for his fellow man than he has been able to as a national legislator.
It’s not all Mr. Flake’s fault, however. He would have accomplished more in less time if there had been mandatory term limits on Congress. Not self-imposed ones, which are self-renege-able, but constitutionally imposed.
Imagine a Congress where people came from our communities to serve in Washington and then, instead of parlaying their service into a near permanent place in the capitol, they returned to our communities after a couple terms. Imagine a Congress where there wasn’t an entrenched incumbency more concerned with re-election than with the risks of setting policy.
It’s something Americans overwhelmingly…