Since Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, there have been signs of a Republican Party in turmoil. Many critics and supporters alike have held out hope the president would pull back from his tweeting, feuding and bullying members of both parties.
Behind the scenes, the GOP has been roiled in rumors of in-fighting. The first cracks in the veneer resulted from the public battle between President Trump and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). The apparent divide between pro and anti-Trump advocates widened as Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) took the Senate floor Tuesday where he dropped a rhetorical bombshell.
Sen. Flake made his feelings known about the current state of politics in Washington.
“I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret of the compromise of our moral authority, and by our — all of our — complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs.”
Near the end of his dramatic speech, Flake issued a more shocking statement: “I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.”
The announcement took members of both parties by surprise, and many observers speculated it could signal the beginning of true opposition to the president within the GOP. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Flake’s Arizona counterpart, John McCain, however, both lauded the first-term senator for his courage.
“I have seen Jeff Flake stand up for what he believes in knowing full well that there would be a political price to pay,” McCain said on the floor following Flake’s speech. “I have seen him stand up for his family. I’ve seen him stand up for his forbearers.”
Although Sens. Corker and Flake have taken a public stand against the president, there are doubts there will be a revolution any time soon. The common thread here is that both senators are not seeking reelection and will not face political backlash which would harm those who intended to remain in office.
For now, it is too soon to see if there will be any real fallout. Those wanting change may have to wait until the mid-term elections in 2018.
[CNN] [The Hill]