Just an idea: It might be unreasonable to think about printing an entire speech verbatim, but if the BCR ever did so, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake’s recent speech in Congress would qualify in my book.
Although many of us disagree about politics – and I disagree with many of Sen. Flake’s positions on federal policy – as citizens, we can all benefit from the call to decency that Flake put so eloquently in that speech. He talked more about character, civility and humility than he did about votes and legislation.
He directed his comments especially to Republican Party politicians, voters and government appointees who support the style and substance of the current administration. But politicians and pundits of all stripes would be wise to hear Flake’s message. That includes Democrats, and others who are frustrated by those who profess to lead us.
Sadly, some of political commentary about Flake’s speech has referred to it as a “morale crusade” or a “partisan spat.” They miss the point. While the White House distracts us, the House and Senate are entertaining legislation that profoundly damages the American dream and realities for millions of people who are already being victimized by the disparities in wealth and freedom.
To his credit, Sen. Flake stood up and said what needed to be said, and now needs to be done – stop accepting the unacceptable actions of leaders who should know better. Consider the consequences of acting out of resentment. Realize that life is much more complicated than what we too often reduce to liberal-vs.-conservative dogma, protecting “us” against “them.”
To me, the importance of Flake’s message is that it is applicable not only to the behavior of the president of the United States but to those who tolerate that behavior, excuse it, support it, and help implement the policies that result. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”
Having been raised in a Republican household and now living in a community served by the Bureau County Republican, I share Sen. Flake’s appraisal of the sad state of the party of Abraham Lincoln. If we are to thrive as a democracy, we need to pay attention – and do better.