What took place on the U.S. Senate floor this past Tuesday, October 24, could go down as one of the most shocking events in U.S. political history. In a speech on the Senate floor, Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced that he would not seek re-election to the Senate in 2018. However, the crazy part of all this is that the majority of Flake’s lengthy speech concentrated not on himself, but on someone else: President Donald Trump. The vast majority of Flake’s speech was a scathing attack of Trump and what the Republican party has become under Trump, saying among many things, “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.”
At the core of Flake’s speech was the theme of principles over party, the belief, held by Flake that a person’s principles, values, and morals should come before a person’s political allegiance, and that people should not be complicit to such unusual behavior. One of Flake’s most memorable moments came when he said, “”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. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.”
Another theme of Flake’s speech was the assertion that what is happening in American politics today is not normal, saying, “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.” Flake placed an emphasis on the fact that the American people should not accept this kind of behavior, and that they should not settle for anything less than the best from their leaders.
While Flake will not seek re-election for another term, he will still stay in the Senate until his term expires in January of 2019. As far as anyone can see, Flake is not going away anytime soon and could continue to cause headaches for the Trump administration. Aside from his outspoken criticism, Flake’s critique of Trump could hurt Trump’s chances of achieving major legislative victories, including tax reform.