Sen. Jeff Flake: ‘It’s time we all say: Enough’

After announcing that he will not run for reelection on Tuesday in a dramatic Senate floor speech, Senator Jeff Flake follows up with an op-ed in the Washington Post simply titled Enough:

As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch.

On June 9, 1954, during the Army-McCarthy hearings, Welch, who was the chief counsel for the Army, famously asked the committee chairman if he might speak on a point of personal privilege. What he said that day was so profound that it has become enshrined as a pivotal moment in defense of American values against those who would lay waste to them. Welch was the son of a small prairie town in northwest Iowa, and the plaintive quality of his flat Midwestern accent is burned into American history. After asking Sen. Joseph McCarthy for his attention and telling him to listen with both ears, Welch spoke:

“Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness.”

And then, in words that today echo from his time to ours, Welch delivered the coup de grace: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

The moral power of Welch’s words ended McCarthy’s rampage on American values, and effectively his career as well.

After Welch said his piece, the hearing room erupted in applause, those in attendance seemingly shocked by such bracing moral clarity in the face of a moral vandal. Someone had finally spoken up and said: Enough.

By doing so, Welch reawakened the conscience of the country. The moment was a shock to the system, a powerful dose of cure for an American democracy that was questioning its values during a time of global tumult and threat. We had temporarily forgotten who we were supposed to be.

We face just such a time now. We have again forgotten who we are supposed to be.

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.

I have been so worried about the state of our disunion that I recently wrote a book called “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.” I meant for the book to be a defense of principle at a time when principle is in a state of collapse. In it, I traced the transformation of my party from a party of ideas to a party in thrall to a charismatic figure peddling empty populist slogans. I tried to make the case for the sometimes excruciating work of arguing and compromise.

This was part of the reason I wanted to go to the Senate — because its institutional strictures require you to cross the aisle and do what is best for the country. Because what is best for the country is for neither party’s base to fully get what it wants but rather for the factions that make up our parties to be compelled to talk until we have a policy solution to our problems. To listen to the rhetoric of the extremes of both parties, one could be forgiven for believing that we are each other’s enemies, that we are at war with ourselves.

But more is now required of us than to put down our thoughts in writing. As our political culture seems every day to plumb new depths of indecency, we must stand up and speak out. Especially those of us who hold elective office.

To that end, and to remove all considerations of what is normally considered to be safe politically, I have decided that my time in the Senate will end when my term ends in early January 2019. For the next 14 months, relieved of the strictures of politics, I will be guided only by the dictates of conscience.

It’s time we all say: Enough.

Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee have questioned the president’s fitness for office and warned that his actions presented a danger to the nation. ‘Dangerous,’ ‘utterly untruthful’: Two retiring GOP senators sound alarm on Trump.

Of course the always insecure egomanical man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief lashed out at Sens. Flake and Corker. Trump punches back at Flake and Corker, claims a ‘love fest’ of support in Senate.

History will judge us by how we stand up to Trumpism, the new American fascism.

12 responses to “Sen. Jeff Flake: ‘It’s time we all say: Enough’

  1. Interesting op-ed by Senator Flake, he makes some valid points.

    But something tells me that Flake’s impending departure from the Senate is not going to be the catalyzing event that starts the revolution. I’m not even sure who Flake’s supporters are. It appears that the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress really do support Trump. And Flake has dutifully voted with them almost 90 percent of the time. I’m not even sure what worries him other than Trump’s outrageous, despicable behavior and his fear that this is the new normal. So Trump is not a “decent” man, he is unfit for the office, and what else?

    What if the GOP president happened to be a nice, distinguished man like Mitt Romney for example? Would Flake and them still be trying to “repeal Obamacare” and deprive tens of millions of Americans of healthcare? Would they vote to decimate Medicaid? Would they craft a bill to further concentrate massive wealth and call it “tax reform”?

    What exactly is “decency” in the minds of those who protest Trump’s lack of decency yet support a radical, anti-populist agenda that destroys the last 85 years of Democratic achievement and sets the nation on a backward course?

    Flake says, “…I traced the transformation of my party from a party of ideas to a party in thrall to a charismatic figure peddling empty populist slogans.” What ideas is he talking about? Oligarchy? White supremacy? Imperialism? Militarism? Social injustice? Environmental destruction?

    In his own party, Flake may find himself between the overwhelming majority of Trump lovers and the few dissidents. On the left, there will be those who hope that Flake’s baring of his soul is actually some kind of spiritual transformation and he will spend the next 14 months opposing his own party. I suspect they will be very disappointed.

    I think it’s great that Jeff Flake is speaking up now that he has decided he doesn’t want to go through an election with such an uncertain outcome. That’s just great.

    But here’s the thing. If you’re going to stake the moral high ground, you have to own all of it. Otherwise, you’re another wolf howling in the night, perhaps to be vindicated at a later time, but the only ones listening right now are those who stay up late.

    Sorry. I wish I could be more excited, but my general reaction is that we should just put the lid on the barrel and let the rats have at it.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Flake was a lobbyist prior to running for office and he swore on his momma’s grave that he’d only serve one term.

      When questioned about that after running again, and again, he joked “I lied”.

      Haha! So funny!

      Some of his lobbying work included the government of South Africa.

      During apartheid. He has very low standards. Remember when his son was caught online gaming under the screen name ‘n****rkiller’?

      What the hell goes on in that household?

      He always votes the Trump line, and his most recent bit of anti-American work was to pass a law allowing your Internet Service Provider to sell your web history.

      Flake made you into a product your ISP can sell for profit and you get nothing.

      It would take me too long to explain how freakin’ evil this is. They’ll be selling your info to political campaigns, insurance companies, your employer, your bank. They’ll use that info to charge you more, decline coverage, give you poor credit scores, and manipulate your political decisions.

      I guarantee no one in Arizona asked for that. Let’s see where he ends up next.

      So that’s the guy who said he couldn’t support Trump. Think about that for a second. That’s how nasty Trump is.

      Good for him. The downside is now I’ll probably have to do something I’ve never done before, even though she’s my rep, and vote for Sinema.

      I may hate Flake for that more than anything.

      Now let’s watch while the rest of the GOP continue to bathe in their own filth and tell us all how good it is for the skin.

      • SMH. Flake’s voting record certainly doesn’t set him apart from the rest of the GOP which, IMO, has plenty of moral issues aside from Trump. Trump is just their sad but very logical conclusion.

        And we will live with the knowledge that it didn’t have to be this way. In this country, there was always enough to go around. What has been so recklessly squandered is just extraordinarily sad. And it’s anyone’s guess how this ends, or whether its a setback or an entirely new landscape. I don’t even know what to expect when I wake up in the morning.

    • “What if the GOP president happened to be a nice, distinguished man like Mitt Romney for example?”

      If the GOP had run Romney instead of Trump, Hillary would now be President. But for the sake of argument, let us say Romney was President. People like Flake would not have to take any stand on anything because Romney would have rolled over and gone along with whatever the democrats wanted, and not do anything the conservatives in the Party wanted done.

  2. bruce.desertrat

    “And are you disagreeing with what Flake actually said?”

    Talk is cheap. Actions are what matters, and Flake still votes with the Trump Agenda 90% of the time.

    What did Jeff say in 2004 when the GOP rank and file were wearing purple heart bandaids, mocking a decorated US veteran in support of a pampered REMF like Shrub?

    That’s no different at all from how Trump treated the Khans or Ms. Johnson.
    He’s been soaking in and benefiting from the very things he’s decrying his entire political career.

  3. Serious Shade

    Uh, Steve. You’re twisting it around and misdirecting again as usual. Where did he say the thought he was Welch? And are you disagreeing with what Flake actually said?

    • “Where did he say the thought he was Welch?”

      He didn’t say in so many words, “I am like Welch.” It was implied when he talked about the courage of Welch in standing up to McCarthy and then went on to talk about his standing up to Trump. He wants people to associate him with Welch in standing up to a bully. Anyone who buys into that comparison is ignorant of McCarthy and the damage he did to a lot of people, particularly in the entertainment industry. It is comparing a mouse to an elephant.

  4. Frances Perkins

    So many people I know voted for Trump because he was a “tough,” talker. I am constantly amazed at the number of older military veterans who think a tough talking, draft dodging, blowhard is just great. Many people I know voted for Duterte in the Philippines for the same reason. Loud mouth, narcissistic, blowhards both. Skilled businessmen, not really, skilled in policy, none, skilled in diplomacy, none, skilled in legislative processes, none, respectful of alternative views, none. Likely disasters? Certainly. I first voted for George McGovern, a real war hero, skilled diplomat, intelligent and humble. Right as rain on Vietnam from an early point. Demonized and blasted in the 1972 election. Now you can’t find anyone who voted for Nixon. In 10 years you will not find anyone who voted for Trump. Mark it down.

  5. For Sure Not Tom

    Ouch! Trump fires off some sick Twitter burns at Flake and Corker!

    That’s the GOP base’s idea of a tough guy. Name calling, lies, and insults.

    You GOP folks must be so proud.

  6. “As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch.”

    So Flake thinks he another Joseph Welch, huh? I don’t know if Flake is just clueless or is trying hard to make his quitting sound noble. Either way he is no Joseph Welch.