Though remaining in office until 2019, today Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona stood on the floor of the Senate and declared that he will not seek reelection. His reasons seem to be tied to Trump’s divisiveness and Lincoln’s prayer for decorum.
That is, he believes that we should not be enemies with Democrats, and that the current animosity Trump engenders has made Washington so inhospitable, that the distinguished senator from Arizona will not contend with President Trump’s policies or Steve Bannon’s pressure in another election.
His full remarks are as follows:
Much of the speech is empty filler, such as:
We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.
No doubt, he feels the focus of a continued division caused by President Trump’s failure to admit failure in referring to his successes. No doubt he should apologize to reporters of false news reports he called “Fake news” when they turned out to be false. No doubt, he should stop the insufferable counterattack on insufferable members of his own party who refuse to stand with him on issues they claim to believe in.
It is clearly Trump’s fault that the GOP congress rallied against Obamacare for 7 years before his inauguration only to fail every simple repeal vote since then.
It must be Trump’s fault that the GOP has failed to do its job for so many months.
Why Flake’s Fear of Compromise Rings Hollow
The junior senator from AZ fears he will compromise too much if he remains in office with a rude president who tweets?
Where was Jeff Flake’s resignation when then President Obama threatened to sue AZ for upholding federal immigration law?
Where was the senator’s resignation when that same president weaponized government agencies against Republican and Tea Party organizations? How many heads rolled and indictments lead to jail time for those IRS, NSA, FBI and other alphabet agency public servants who abused their public trust in a “new normal” of radical Democrat divisiveness?
Where was the AZ senator’s obligation, “as a matter of duty and conscience,” to criticize the Obama administration and CNN when they ran multiple reports of AZ white guys taking up arms against a black president, when they had clearly cropped the photo of a black man with anAR15?
The answer: he used these talking points for his stump speeches! He used them as vote fodder. He got into office on the Tea Party bandwagon. He no doubt assured his constituents that he had their back, that he would stand against the “personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions.”
Now as a Republican POTUS fights to get this do-nothing congress to pass any legislation, Flake flakes.
Flake Fears Primary Challenges
Flake did not give actual charges, policies or names, but it’s clear what he’s talking about:
When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.
The primary challenge refers to Steve Bannon’s promise to primary every GOP senator up for reelection except for Ted Cruz.
The counter argument is, if you fail to live up to the promises made in your election speeches, you should be primaried for succumbing to the considerations of the swamp.
Flake’s Foreign Challenge
When the United States emerged from World War II we contributed about half of the world’s economic activity. It would have been easy to secure our dominance, keeping the countries that had been defeated or greatly weakened during the war in their place. We didn’t do that. It would have been easy to focus inward. We resisted those impulses. Instead, we financed reconstruction of shattered countries and created international organizations and institutions that have helped provide security and foster prosperity around the world for more than 70 years.
Now, it seems that we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it.
The senator is probably referring to Trump dressing down the UN, pulling out of the Paris Accords on Climate Change, renegotiating NAFTA, refusing to accept Syrian Muslim refuges, and taking an “America first” policy over global cooperation. Those are part of the larger perspective.
This is the wrong forum for a full scale foreign policy debate. All I would say is, just as many Democrats mistake government for their personal expression of charity to the world, the senator may mistake his Mormon missionary fervor for the proper function of the US government.
Many of his views comport more with Obama’s “America last” policy that racked up more US debt than every past administration combined. We can no longer afford such extravagance at the expense of our national interests and debt obligations.
Trump needs to counter-balance Obama’s excessiveness with restraint.
His highlighted Remarks
The section that will be most repeated over the next news cycle is also perhaps Flake’s best example of empty, and empty-headed rhetoric:
We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.
This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better. Because to have a healthy government we must have healthy and functioning parties. We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently, and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man, and always look for the good. Until that days comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it. Because it does.
Trump does not glory in things that divide us. Instead, he’s using Twitter and common parlance to purify the public discourse, as if by fire.
What the distinguished senator from Arizona fails recognize is that we are already divided. Colleges across America decry capitalism and inculcate socialism to our youth.
Antifa, a fascist movement, is actively trying to overthrow the civil society and our civil rights.
The Obama regime set in motion a series of conflicts that continue today, and dog Trump at every turn. Trump has had to fight leaks from every department in Washington.
He has suffered a pussy-hat march for locker room talk he said privately over 15 years ago.
Trump did not call for violence in Charlottesville. He did not demand statues to be torn down, or for the progressive media to invent Russia conspiracy, or for Democrats and the progressive media to take offense at every uttered word and demand his impeachment from day one.
Trump is indeed fighting for shared facts and values, comity and good faith. But that won’t happen if Republicans accept the repeated lies as truth, ignore the knife in our backs, and allow the opposition party, which includes the progressive media, to set the narrative.
The Actual New Normal
America would certainly harken back to an “old normal” if it ever existed; but alas, that’s more fake news.
Remember Burr and Hamilton? The DNC-branded KKK vs the GOP Super Republicans and Carpetbaggers?
If our 140-character present is so odious, and Trump is to blame, where are the modern duels? Where are the bludgeoned representatives? Where are the public invectives that made Harry Reid and Alan Grayson’s rants look like posers?
Unfortunately for the Trump’s Twitter feed obsessed senator, a new normal is coming. George Soros recently donated $18 BILLION to his open society (Antifa, BLM, Occupy) causes. More radical Antifa protests and calls for revolution are coming.
The truth is, Trump did not create, nor does he perpetuate, the “new normal” of divisiveness. He must bring an end to it.
It is indeed “time for the complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.”
We must look to that day Lincoln spoke of, but only after we win.