In announcing that he won’t be running for another term in the Senate, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake gave a powerful speech. It wasn’t just well-written and well-delivered, Flake poured his soul into the speech, calling out the Republican Party in a voice quivering with emotion.
It’s easy to argue that Flake’s words were diminished because, like Bob Corker, he was delivering this words while packing his bags. But it’s not Flake who lost standing. It’s the Republican Party.
Flake may be the one who is surrendering his seat, but he’s doing so because the rest of the GOP has surrendered already. He’s not leaving the Senate because he and his fellow senators have been waging the good fight against Donald Trump’s “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals,” he’s leaving because they’re not fighting. He’s leaving because the United States Senate has already become not just
rubber stamp for Trump, but because …
It must also be said that 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.
But complicity and accommodation are not going to end. Flake’s speech—beautiful as it was—didn’t cause his fellow senators to rise in support. It only caused them to squirm uncomfortably in their seats. It may have sounded like a clarion call to action, it was really the final playing of taps for the Republican Party.
The idea that there’s a division in the Republican Party was true. But it won’t stay true. Trump is now the party.