By far the most popular chant at the Republican convention this week has been "lock her up" — with "her" referring to Hillary Clinton.
Delegates have had a blast calling for the imprisonment of the presumptive Democratic nominee, and the idea has been endorsed from the podium at least four times so far — including by Pam Bondi, the top law enforcement officer in the state of Florida. (Bondi responded to the chant Wednesday night by saying, "Lock her up, I love that!")
So far, most GOP elites have responded either with silence, or by deliberately encouraging the sentiment. The major exception, though, is Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who in a tweet Tuesday night mocked idea that Clinton "belongs in prison" and called it "jumping the shark."
.@HillaryClinton now belongs in prison? C'mon. We can make the case that she shouldn't be elected without jumping the shark.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) July 20, 2016
And on Wednesday night, Flake — who is not attending the Republican convention and has not yet endorsed Trump — reiterated this criticism in a brief post on Medium.
"Republicans are not going to defeat Hillary Clinton in November by insisting that she belongs in prison any more than we defeated Barack Obama by pretending that he was born in Kenya," Flake wrote. "So let’s drop the references to orange pant suits and chants of ‘lock her up.’"
He continued: "These jokes and bromides may play well in rare venues and limited circles, but they cheapen the very real arguments that need to be made to the broader public against a Hillary Clinton presidency."
Flake’s criticisms are framed in terms of electoral pragmatism, but he clearly views "lock her up" as a fringe sentiment that has no place in a major party. Would that more attendees here in Cleveland were willing to openly agree with him.