Flake’s final fault was that, while he was quick to point out when something was wrong, he never wanted to be part of the solution. He was concerned about how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would add $1 trillion to the deficit, unless Congress addressed exorbitant spending, but voted for it anyway after securing minor concessions that had little to do with the budget. Meanwhile, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced an amendment addressing their own reservations about the bill—Flake introduced no such amendment. Similarly, while Flake decried the separation of families at the border, it was Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who actually attempted to solve the problem by proposing legislation addressing the legal mechanisms behind the separations.

In his tenure, Romney needs to stand tall where Flake slouched. If he wants to the lead the conservative opposition to Trump, then he actually needs to lead. This means introducing amendments to flawed legislation and withholding his vote when the situation calls for it. In other words, Romney has to either put up or shut up. Flake did neither.