Alan Zendell, December 21, 2019
Because I believe that all Americans have the inalienable right to a roof over their heads, nutritious food on their tables, and access to basic health care, many people “accuse” me of being a Liberal (whatever that means.) Yet, I found a real affinity for the man who was the purest Conservative in the Senate until this year, Jeff Flake. It’s hard to argue with someone who describes the roots and basis of Conservatism as respect for truth and fidelity to the basic ideals and values on which our Constitution rests.
Senator Flake chose not to run for re-election last year because the president’s base was targeting him in the primary election and the polls suggested that Trump would win that fight. I wish Flake had made a different choice, since subsequent events show Arizona going purple and possibly blue, surely not a bastion of Trump support if it ever was. But that ship has sailed.
Republicans and Democrats both have a huge stake in preserving and restoring the Republican Party to what it was. Whether or not you agree with Conservative dogma, drowning it out with lies, racist hate-mongering, and bluster cannot possibly be healthy for our nation. The principles Jeff Flake espouses are essential to who we are as Americans. Policy differences are simply details to be negotiated in a bipartisan manner.
The horror show of the impeachment of President Trump had a clear light shone on it yesterday when Jeff Flake published an open letter to his former colleagues in the Senate. He appealed to them to recall how their better selves would have reacted if not steeped in the chaos created by this president. He reminded them that their duty to the Constitution was to act as Republicans, not as Trump’s lackeys. To me the most meaningful lines in Flake’s letter were:
“…the danger of an untruthful president is compounded when an equal branch [of government] follows that president off the cliff, into the abyss of unreality and untruth.…Call it the founders’ blind spot: They simply could not have envisioned the Article I branch [Congress] abetting and enabling such dangerous behavior in the Article II branch [the President.]”
If the long, drawn out, nearly impossible to watch impeachment hearings and the accompanying political spins have left you frustrated or lost in the weeds, let those two statements remind you what this is all about. The people who wrote our Constitution (Alexander Hamilton, et al,) feared two things above all. One was allowing our young republic to fall back into an autocratic monarchy. The other was our vulnerability to foreign interference.
The two Articles of Impeachment drafted by the House Judiciary Committee address those fears directly. More than half of America believes the president abused his power and that he was willing to put his own lust to remain in power over our national security. I applaud Jeff Flake for taking on the role of Congressional Conscience.
We can debate whether Trump’s actions rise to the level of impeachable, but we cannot sanction Senators openly declaring their political bias and blocking testimony from the people in the best position to tell the truth to the American people. As Flake implied, that would make Congress culpable in undermining the most important provisions in the Constitution. Every American with an open mind must hear what John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney have to say, and presidential privilege be damned.
If Flake’s admonition is ignored, what use are laws and the judiciary? If the Constitution can be flagrantly violated by an egomaniacal, paranoid president with no moral or ethical compass, what becomes of the precedents on which our laws are based? And if Congress succumbs to political blackmail and becomes a rubber stamp for the president…you fill in the blanks.
That’s not the America I grew up in. It’s not the America I want my grandchildren to grow up in. I urge you to read Senator Flake’s letter and give it the honest consideration it deserves. Flake says in the clearest possible terms that whether or not each individual Senator believes the president deserves to be impeached, the notion that he did nothing wrong as the House Republicans unanimously claimed is unsupportable. He doesn’t specifically come down on the side of impeachment, but he decries the possibility of acquitting the president without considering the facts.
The real issue, of course, is next November’s election. Americans need to know who they’re voting for next year. They need to see for themselves what he did so they can decide whether he deserves another term in office.