Jeff Flake gave a political retirement speech for the ages on Tuesday where he criticized Donald Trump and gave the GOP a major wake up call to speak out against the corrupt administration.
The Senator announced on Tuesday that he won't be seeking reelection in the 2018 Senate, but he already detailed his reasons in a book that was published in August, titled: The Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, in which he indicted his political party and Donald Trump.
But Tuesday's speech was a scathing assessment of Donald Trump and a denouncement of the Republican party that CNN called "the most important speech of 2017."
The Senator began by wishing to address a matter "at a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord and our dysfunction than it is by our values and our principles."
Not one to mince words when it comes to the integrity of Washington politics, Flake warned against the "new normal" behavior coming from the White House.
The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, and the flagrant disregard for truth and 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 been elected to serve. None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal.
He excoriated the reckless behavior of the president which is often dismissed as "dangerous to a democracy," and Flake criticized his fellow Republicans for being too passive.
When the next generation asks us, why didn't you do something? Why didn't you speak up? What are we going to say? Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the 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, civility and stability right behind it.
We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.
Taking the cue from Senator Bob Corker's comment that Donald Trump's reckless statements could set the nation "on the path to World War III," Flake warned that Trump's social media interaction could have serious global consequences.
The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters - the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.
He went on to define the meaning of a true leadership.
When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it goes looking for somebody to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society. Leadership knows that most often a good place to start in assigning blame is to first look somewhat closer to home. Leadership knows where the buck stops. Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly and debased appetites in us.
Flake said he no longer wants to be complicit with the president and wisehs to be free from his conscience to better represent the state of Arizona and to better serve the people of this country.
He also urged fellow Republicans to return to its core values instead of going along with demoralizing policies that deserted the people they were elected to serve.
It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has so long defined itself by its belief in those things. It's also clear to me for the moment that we have given in or given up on the core principles in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment.
Whether Flake's powerful words will actually make a difference or not remains to be seen; however, the reactions were loud and clear on Twitter.
You can watch a video of Senator Jeff Flake's retirement speech below.
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