Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) blasted President Trump on the senate floor today as he made his official announcement that he will not seek re-election in 2018.
Flake’s departure from Congress is bound to be a major development in the Republican Party’s civil war between pro-Trump factions and more traditional conservative politicians. The senator seemed to acknowledge this as he spoke about his regrets for deteriorating political discourse, American leadership, and the country’s moral authority on the world stage
“There are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time. It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our – all of our – complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs.”
Flake went on to say that Trump’s “reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior” presents a danger to democracy that must not be accepted as a political normality. He also lamented the decline of political decency and behavior, as well as the GOP’s failure in calling out Trump’s missteps for the sake of party interests.
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
Flake continued to tear apart the Republican Party’s handling of Trump, noting how certain segments think absolutely loyalty to the president is the only acceptable conservative platform. The senator said it was an “obligation” to be critical when necessary, and that people must not accept “the personal attacks, threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions.”
Flake has been a vocal critic of Trump’s rhetoric for months, and he acknowledged the electoral pressure he faces by saying that the path of the traditional conservatism “has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party.” Nonetheless, he warned against regressive populism and the urge to reject America’s core values in favor of division.
“Despotism loves a vacuum. And our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this? None of this is normal. And what do we as United States Senators have to say about it? The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and to our survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics. Because politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity. I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit.”
Watch above, via C-SPAN.
[Image via screengrab]
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