October 24, 2017

Complicit No More

Arizona's other Republican Senator, Jeff Flake, announced today he would not be running for re-election. Flake had long been a lightning rod for the Tweeter in Chief,  but in an emotional speech on the Senate floor, he lit into the president like a man who had just found his cojones voice.  

Here are a few excerpts.
...let me begin by noting the somewhat obvious point that these offices that we hold are not ours indefinitely...Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office...
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. 
That we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set up 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 institution, 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... 
...we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal. 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... It instead projects a corruption of the spirit and weakness...
... 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..
Were the shoe on the other foot, we Republicans — would we Republicans meekly accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats? Of course, we wouldn’t, and we would be wrong if we did...
...And as a matter and duty of conscience, the notion that one should stay silent — and 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 we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is...profoundly misguided.
...Leadership knows that most often a good place to start in assigning blame is to look somewhat closer to home. Leadership knows where the buck stops... Humility helps, character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly or debased appetites in us...
... politics can make us silent when we should speak and silence can equal complicity. I have children and grandchildren to answer to.
...To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess that we’ve created are justified. But anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.
There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal by mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle...
We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake...
.. A political career does not mean much if we are complicit in undermining these values. 
Some may say this was a self-indulgent act; some will say it's easy to have cojones a voice when a man is walking away from a re-election fight he was apt to lose, thanks to his enemy in the Oval Office. But even some Republicans applauded Flake's message, not just his leave-taking.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been looking for his own cojones voice since before the election, said this today:
All this stuff you see on a daily basis, on Twitter this and Twitter that, forget about it.

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