“Who will save your souls, if you won’t save your own?” singer Jewel famously asked in her hit song. Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has now publicly directed that question toward his former colleagues in the GOP as President Trump faces an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Jeff Flake — the man who nearly derailed the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation in the 11th hour — says that the Republican Party has changed for the worse under President Trump and it’s a party he can no longer identify. But alas, there is still hope, according to Flake, so long as the Republicans are willing to find their souls again and either impeach Trump or abandon him in the 2020 election.
“Traveling overseas I witnessed the damage being done to our standing in the world as a result of President Trump’s fondness for authoritarians and his scorn for allies,” Flake writes of Trump’s influence. “His hostility toward security alliances and trade agreements had placed our long-term security and our economy at risk. His adoption of the tyrant’s phrase ‘enemy of the people’ put journalists in even greater peril, all over the world. His resentment toward refugees and profane description of certain countries were destroying generations of goodwill.”
“At home, I was convinced that his repeated disparagement of the judiciary, antagonism toward Congress and casual disregard for the truth were damaging our democratic institutions, and his persistent crudeness to his political opponents and cruelty toward vanquished foes were degrading our political culture,” he continues.
Knowing that oblivion is at hand, Flake proposes a decision to his former Senate colleagues, urging them to take the testimony of the Ukrainian deal “whistleblower” seriously and either impeach President Trump or lend him no support come 2020. The former option, Flake admits, could prove beneficial to President Trump, so he urges the GOP take the latter option.
We have learned from a whistleblower that the president has abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign government to go after a political opponent. A rough transcript of the telephone call has removed all ambiguity about the president’s intent. In light of these revelations, the House of Representatives has launched an impeachment inquiry and will likely be forwarding to the Senate at least one article of impeachment.
Compelling arguments will be made on both sides of the impeachment question. With what we now know, the president’s actions warrant impeachment. The Constitution of course does not require it, and although Article II, Section 4 is clear about remedies for abuse of office, I have grave reservations about impeachment. I fear that, given the profound division in the country, an impeachment proceeding at such a toxic moment might actually benefit a president who thrives on chaos. Disunion is the oxygen of this presidency. He is the maestro of a brand of discord that benefits only him and ravages everything else. So although impeachment now seems inevitable, I fear it all the same. I understand others who might have similar reservations. The decision to impeach or not is a difficult one indeed.
Since impeachment would be so catastrophic, Flake says that the “easier decision” for the GOP would be simply to not support Trump’s bid for reelection. While Flake understands the consequences could mean being voted out of office, the former senator believes that the sacrifice is worth it.
“I am not oblivious to the consequences that might accompany that decision,” writes Flake. “In fact, I am living those consequences. I would have preferred to represent the citizens of Arizona for another term in the Senate. But not at the cost of supporting this man. A man who has, now more than ever, proved to be so manifestly undeserving of the highest office that we have.”
“At this point, the president’s conduct in office should not surprise us,” continues Flake. “But truly devastating has been our tolerance of that conduct. Our embrace of it. From the ordeal of this presidency, perhaps the most horrible — and lasting — effect on our democracy will be that at some point we simply stopped being shocked.”
Flake finishes op-ed by appealing to Republicans to risk their careers in favor of “muh principles,” arguing that presidents will come and go while principles will die if they don’t “put America first.”
“Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul,” Flake concludes.