Arizona senator Jeff Flake launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump and fellow Republicans on the Senate floor, in which he bemoaned his colleagues giving up on core principles “in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment”. He didn’t stop there. “It is time for our complicity and our accommodation for the unacceptable to end,” Flake said. “There are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.” He announced that he would not seek re-election.
“We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that that is just the way things are now,” he added. “We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal.”
Flake characterised Trump’s governing style “reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior” which has become “excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.” A key argument by supporters of the president is that his behaviour is merely “telling it like it is”, from openly degrading Muslims as an inherent Da’esh 5th column to glorifying sexual assault.
Flake made a passionate appeal to his fellow Republicans in the House and the Senate. “When the next generation asks us: ‘Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? What are we going to say?’” Mainstream media outlets were quick to cover Flake; CNN described him as having given “the most important speech of 2017”. The Atlantic portrayed the speech as a disaster for Trump, “one more straw upon the camel’s back”. Other outlets are predicting upcoming electoral success.
Flake’s acclaim skyrocketed overnight; media outlets on all sides of the aisle put him in the spotlight. Liberals, Clinton Supporters and Republican opponents of Trump have made Flake into a hero, acclaiming his passionate condemnation of Trump and the far-right leanings of mainstream Republicanism.
These commentators constantly airbrush the fact that Flake passionately advocated the launch of the Iraq war in 2002. The war culminated in the deaths of millions of innocent Muslims, was launched on completely false pretences and increased support for al-Qa’eda due to resentment of America’s actions.
Flake, ever the heroic people-person, once wrote a touching letter to the mother of a shooting victim in the days before a vote on gun control, vowing to fight for its implementation. When the vote came, Flake voted against it and gloated that doing so was “the beauty of a 6-year term”, becoming the most unpopular senator in America.
On March 7, 2017, Flake introduced a bill to dismantle FCC Internet privacy rules; his bill would allow service providers to sell users’ browsing history without consent. Flake described privacy rules as “innovation-stifling regulation” and took $22,700 in donations from tech lobbyists. The legislation passed in April. “You sold my privacy up the river.” sneered an angry constituent.
The lavish praise of Flake isn’t merely an isolated mistake, it’s a cynical, calculated stance deployed by the “progressive” left and “centrists” again and again throughout American political history and illustrates just how little they care for supposed social justice.
Obama was frantically cheered into office as a fresh, anti-establishment face – despite his biggest contributor being Goldmann Sachs, and despite supporting the Afghan war. Clinton was enthusiastically supported too, despite constantly shifting stances on Iraq & involvement in Obama’s widely condemned Syria strategy as Secretary of State (as well as his drone programs). Accusations of harassment of women accusing her husband of sexual assault was also overlooked – ironic, given that she based much of her campaign rhetoric on Trump’s behaviour towards women.
Flake’s recent applause from liberals and supposed centrists is yet another example of how completely hollow their posturing is. The conclusion is inescapable – they’re not against Trump because of what he does, they’re against him for making them look bad.
Flake has used recent publicity to draw attention to his new book, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that he decided to speak up precisely when his approval rating is at its most dismal (which Trump sneers is a mere 18%).
Flake’s stances should be taken for what they almost certainly are – an attempt to gain political clout before the 2020 primaries. The Republicans harnessed bigotry to win big after 9/11. Trump is the result of their rhetoric, the result of Jeff Flake.