Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced Tuesday afternoon that he will retire at the end of his current term and, thusly, not seek re-election in 2018.
“It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret,” Flake said in an address on the Senate floor. “Regret because of the state of our disunion.”
The Arizona senator then launched into an attack on the current state of political discourse.
“It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end,” he began.
“We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve.”
Flake continued to say that the conduct of the executive branch has proceeded “without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable" and that "we must stop pretending that [they] are normal.”
“They are not normal,” he stated.
“Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough,” Flake said plainly. “We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal. With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner. A return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that.”
Flake then claimed that if he has been critical of the president, he has done so because he believes “it is my obligation to do so, and as a matter and duty of conscience.”
Touching on the president's Twitter habits, Flake said:
“The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters, the notion that we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavioral is ahistoric, and I believe profoundly misguided.”
“Too often we rush to salvage — not to salvage principle but to forgive and excuse our failures so we might accommodate them and go right on failing,” Flake continued. “In that way, and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice any principle. I'm afraid that this is where we now find ourselves.”
Flake then pointed to his children and grandchildren as a reason for his decision to retire.
“I will not be complacent or silent,” he said, “I decided I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscious by freeing myself of the political consideration that consumed far too much bandwidth and forced me to compromise too many principles.”
Flake then ended his lengthy speech by quoting President Abraham Lincoln.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. So 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,” Flake said, quoting Lincoln's first inaugural address.
Watch Flake's speech above, via CNN.