Sen. Flake speaks here ahead of Kavanaugh vote



Flake’s involvement in the controversial appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court attracted a big media presence when he spoke at Saint Anselm Oct. 1.

Amadou Bah, Crier staff

Amid the drama circulating the Senate confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Sen.Jeff Flake, R-AZ, found time to visit Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics on Oct. 1 to speak on “After the Deluge: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.”

The speech focused on the nation’s current state of politics, the way in which U.S. politics used to be conducted, and how political activity can return to the standards and customs of a more civil time.

Flake prefaced his speech by making light of the fact that unlike other places he visits, Saint Anselm’s general population is “reasonable,” and “level-headed.” His joke was meant to compliment the class and civility of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, and criticize the lack of civility in other places.

Recently, it has become commonplace for conservative politicians to be run out of restaurants, or to be approached in casual settings about the decisions that they either have made or are contemplating making.

As a matter of fact, on Sept 28 Sen. Flake was approached outside of an elevator by a tearful woman who wanted to persuade the senator to vote not to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

Despite the praise he gave Saint Anselm’s general population, he decided not to take questions. Though not confirmed, the incident that occurred outside the elevator between Flake and said female may have contributed to his decision to avoid questions from the crowd. As a result of these latest forms of protest, there is now a debate on whether or not public officials should be susceptible to these sorts of protest.

The beginning of Senator Flake’s speech focused on the rampant tribalism that he believes is tainting the party he grew to love as an adolescent. “I thought about titling this speech, ‘What happened to Reagan’s party?’” Senator Flake claims that the party he grew up believing in promoted democracy, and refused to cozy up with dictators who stripped their citizens of their civil rights.

To the naked eye, this statement was meant to refute President Trump’s idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin can be seen as an ally to the United States. He stated later in his speech his disgust for the way in which Republicans have lost their way. With dismay, he acknowledged that his party was now the party of President Donald Trump.

As he spoke on this he would go on further to say, “My message here today is tribalism is ruining us.” The reasonable conclusion is that this sentiment was not meant for Republicans alone. This can be assumed by this statement by the senator, “There is a sickness in our system, and we have infected the whole country with it.”

He believes the entire political system is at fault. In his opinion, the first step to mending this wound is to approach it with a certain degree of honesty, “The only way we’ll get through this period is to be honest about it.” Essentially, he saying that all facets of politics from the media, to the individuals who participate in it, contribute to the growing tribalism that his slowly replacing reason with fanaticism; and the only way to prevent the spread of tribalism is to identify their own tribalistic actions as well as others.

Towards the backend of Senator Flake’s speech, he offered up an example of how he chose decency over tribe. He talked about a Democratic representative by the name of Gabby Gifford. On January 11th, 2011, Congresswoman Gabby Gifford was shot by a political fanatic during a constituent meeting held in a supermarket parking lot.

She was badly injured and upon her recovery, and eventual return, Congressman Flake planned to sit next to her during the State of the Union address. In his speech, Senator Flake noted that he was doing this in order to support his colleague whenever she needed help to stand and clap during the State of the Union. He knew how it would look being the only Republican standing alongside Democrats who applauded then President Obama’s speech.

He did it despite knowing exactly what kind of political repercussions the image presented because, “Government is hard, democracy is hard, decency shouldn’t be.” Senator Flake’s gesture lacked difficulty because he understood that it was simply the right thing to do. His speech was a call for civility, and a refutation of tribal politics. He wrote his speech in order for people to understand that at times it can be possible to put the politics aside and simply do what is right.