Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced on Tuesday that he would not be seeking re-election in 2018—and he did so in historic fashion.
Flake’s speech, which comes amid the senator’s ongoing feud with President Donald Trump, was a full-throated push back against the president and his form of politics, an attempt to urge the Republican Party not to become complicit in an “alarming and dangerous state of affairs” under Trump.
Here are some of the highlights from his speech:
In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order—that phrase being “the new normal.” But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue—with the tone set at the top. 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.
Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as “telling it like it is,” when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength—because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit, and weakness
Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes normal. With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.
Flake also wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post titled “Enough” that underscored much of what he said during his speech on the floor of the Senate.
In the op-ed, Flake continued to rail against Trump and the current state of politics, writing that he will be guided by his “conscience” until the end of his term.
Here are some highlights:
There is a sickness in our system—and it is contagious. How many more disgraceful public feuds with Gold Star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced? How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off? How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it? How much more damage to our democracy and to the institutions of American liberty do we need to witness in silence before we count ourselves as complicit in that damage?
Nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal, and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing, to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say, loudly and clearly: Enough. The outcome of this is in our hands. We can no longer remain silent, merely observing this train wreck, passively, as if waiting for someone else to do something. The longer we wait, the greater the damage, the harsher the judgment of history.