Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, announced on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in 2018. He delivered a statement from the Senate floor.
The following is an excerpt of those remarks, as prepared by The New York Times.
“We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.
This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better. Because we have a healthy government, we must also have healthy and functioning parties. We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man, and always look for the good.
Until that day comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it, because it does. I plan to spend the remaining 14 months of my Senate term doing just that.
Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women. None of us here is indispensable nor were even the great figures of history who toiled at these very desks, in this very chamber, to shape the country that we have inherited. What is indispensable are the values that they consecrated in Philadelphia and in this place, values which have endured and will endure for so long as men and women wish to remain free.
What is indispensable is what we do here in defense of those values. A political career does not mean much if we are complicit in undermining these values. I thank my colleagues for indulging me here today.
I will close by borrowing the words of President Lincoln, who knew more about healthy enmity and preserving our founding values than any other American who has ever lived. His words from his first inaugural were a prayer in his time and are now no less in ours.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break the bonds of our affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely as they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.”
Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona