Picture of Complicity. Getty Images here and front.
The blistering anti-Trump speech by Arizona's Sen. Jeff Flake announcing he will not seek re-election was a multi-sided affair, a "defiant surrender" both eloquent and empty. Flake rightly called out the evils of the day, decrying the "indecency of our discourse," the "coarseness of our leadership," and the "compromise of our moral authority." He went on, "We must never regard as ‘normal' the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals...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." "Politics can make us silent when we should speak," he said, "and silence can equal complicity. I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit."
Except, alas, he is and has been. Like Tennessee's Bob Corker, another anti-Trump Republican fleeing the scene of their party's crimes, he is giving up because his party has already given in. They now own Trump, and Flake doesn't want to. (Also, he'd likely lose his upcoming primary battle to the kind of die-hard wingnut that's taken over his party.) His action might work for the good: The resulting Senate will now remain nominally GOP-controlled, but strewn with iffy votes - Flake, Corker, McCain, Paul, maybe even Collins - and in 2018 the wingnut could help flip the state to Democrats. Still, despite his terrific words, Flake has to own his actions. He voted with Trump over 90% of the time, including voting to strip health care from millions of Americans - and, late Tuesday along with Corker, to strip consumer protections in a move dubbed "a wet kiss to Wall Street." He failed to denounce the decades of GOP hatred, corruption, pettiness, partisanship, fear-mongering and greed that inexorably led to the creation of Trump. And now, rather than stay and fight, he's quitting. Oh, how we wish we all could.
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