Senator Flake’s Luther Moment

Senator Flake’s Luther Moment

When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseam — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.

• Senator Jeff Flake

• • •

We celebrate Martin Luther this week as one of history’s greatest examples of someone standing up publicly and saying, “The emperor has no clothes.” Soon many joined him in decrying the corruption and false doctrines being tolerated and promulgated by the Church in their day.

In our own country, many have been shy to speak the unvarnished truth about how our current leaders and politicians have abandoned any pretense of virtue and public service to advance themselves and made winning and holding power the be-all and end-all of political ambition.

Now, a small group of Republicans is beginning to speak out. And the most impressive has been Jeff Flake, senator from Arizona. Flake told the country yesterday that he won’t be running in the next election, embedding his announcement in a remarkable speech that speaks plain truth with moral authority to power. Though some have criticized him for leaving the battlefield, HERE is an article that takes a different viewpoint. At any rate, in my opinion this extraordinary moment in U.S. history should be captured, and so I give you his speech today.

Here is what Senator Flake said on the Senate floor yesterday.

Mr. President, I rise today to address a matter that has been much on my mind, at a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord and our dysfunction than it is by our values and our principles. Let me begin by noting a somewhat obvious point that these offices that we hold are not ours to hold indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office. And there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles.

Now is such a time.

It must also be said that 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 for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our — all of our — complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.

In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order — that phrase being “the new normal.” But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue — with the tone set at the top.

We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or 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 all been elected to serve.

None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. If we simply become inured to this condition, thinking that this is just politics as usual, then heaven help us. Without fear of the consequences, and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.

Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as “telling it like it is,” when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.

And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength — because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit, and weakness.

It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, “Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up?” — what are we going to say?

Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes 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. By now, we all know better than that.

Here, today, I stand to say that we would better serve the country and better fulfill our obligations under the constitution by adhering to our Article 1 “old normal” — Mr. Madison’s doctrine of the separation of powers. This genius innovation which affirms Madison’s status as a true visionary and for which Madison argued in Federalist 51 — held that the equal branches of our government would balance and counteract each other when necessary. “Ambition counteracts ambition,” he wrote.

But what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency? Were the shoe on the other foot, would we Republicans meekly accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats? Of course not, and we would be wrong if we did.

When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseam — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.

Now, I am aware that more politically savvy people than I caution against such talk. I am aware that a segment of my party believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect.

If I have been critical, it not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience.The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and 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 one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.

A Republican president named Roosevelt had this to say about the president and a citizen’s relationship to the office:

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.” President Roosevelt continued. “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves, and as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party. We can all be forgiven for failing in that measure from time to time. I certainly put myself at the top of the list of those who fall short in that regard. I am holier-than-none. But too often, we rush not to salvage principle but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing — until the accommodation itself becomes our principle.

In that way and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice almost any principle. I’m afraid that is where we now find ourselves.

When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it goes looking for somebody to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society. Leadership knows that most often a good place to start in assigning blame is to first look somewhat closer to home. Leadership knows where the buck stops. Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly and debased appetites in us.

Leadership lives by the American creed: E Pluribus Unum. From many, one. American leadership looks to the world, and just as Lincoln did, sees the family of man. Humanity is not a zero-sum game. When we have been at our most prosperous, we have also been at our most principled. And when we do well, the rest of the world also does well.

These articles of civic faith have been central to the American identity for as long as we have all been alive. They are our birthright and our obligation. We must guard them jealously and pass them on for as long as the calendar has days. To betray them, or to be unserious in their defense is a betrayal of the fundamental obligations of American leadership. And to behave as if they don’t matter is simply not who we are.

Now, the efficacy of American leadership around the globe has come into question. When the United States emerged from World War II we contributed about half of the world’s economic activity. It would have been easy to secure our dominance, keeping the countries that had been defeated or greatly weakened during the war in their place. We didn’t do that. It would have been easy to focus inward. We resisted those impulses. Instead, we financed reconstruction of shattered countries and created international organizations and institutions that have helped provide security and foster prosperity around the world for more than 70 years.

Now, it seems that we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it.

The implications of this abandonment are profound. And the beneficiaries of this rather radical departure in the American approach to the world are the ideological enemies of our values. Despotism loves a vacuum. And our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this? None of this is normal.And what do we as United States Senators have to say about it?

The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and to our survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics. Because politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity.

I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit.

I have decided that I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles.

To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.

It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party — the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things. It is also clear to me for the moment we have given in or given up on those core principles in favor of the more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment. To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess we have created are justified. But anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.

There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal — but mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican Party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.

We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.

This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better. Because to have a healthy government we must have healthy and functioning parties. We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man and always look for the good. Until that days comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it. Because it does.

I plan to spend the remaining 14 months of my Senate term doing just that.

Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women — none of us here is indispensable. Nor were even the great figures from history who toiled at these very desks in this very chamber to shape this country that we have inherited. What is indispensable are the values that they consecrated in Philadelphiaand in this place, values which have endured and will endure for so long as men and women wish to remain free. What is indispensable is what we do here in defense of those values. A political career doesn’t mean much if we are complicit in undermining those values.

I thank my colleagues for indulging me here today and will close by borrowing the words of President Lincoln, who knew more about healing enmity and preserving our founding values than any other American who has ever lived. His words from his first inaugural were a prayer in his time, and are no less so in ours:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.

84 thoughts on “Senator Flake’s Luther Moment

  1. I have to agree with Vinnie of Tennessee.
    Wow! I used to read IM from time to time to see what others were thinking concerning various theological issues. Now, however (reading comments on this post, or instance), I might as well access the DNC.
    “Bad Trump!” “Bad Trump!”
    Good grief, (apparently) YOUR candidate (even with the cheating DNC behind her) didn’t win. Get over it – and, leave politics alone.


  2. Nah: 52% will abhor him but thanks to the malfunctioning constitution, he will be elected anyway because they are not properly geographically distributed.


  3. I’ve never met a conservative who believed in limited government when it came to weapons or surveillance or one who believed in free markets when a sports team owner wanted to public to build him a new, free stadium.


  4. you sound like the person on TWW who is for no longer believing in any ‘church’ . . . . . she is adamant about being a ‘Christian’, but cannot abide the idea of ‘church’ likely because of the ‘rot’ as you call it, but I would say, more than likely she abhors the abuses of people identified and sometimes enabled by church ‘authorities’ . . . . . and in that, we can all agree with her, that these abuses are terrible, but that is where I can walk away from her hatred of ‘the church’ as institution because my own belief is that the Church is meant to be more than the problems of those who are its broken and flawed members,
    and that satan will always rejoice when people conflate ‘the Church’ with ‘the evil-doers’ who have shielded themselves by covering themselves in ‘self-righteousness’

    for me the Church will always be for those who come in the door and pray ‘Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner’ . . . .

    it may harbor the ones who preen and point at ‘that other sinner’ and claim to be righteous, but these ‘godly’ personages, like their biblical predecessor (the Pharisee) may not know the favor of God

    and in the end, the Church belongs to Jesus Christ,
    not to the pharisees of our day, who point the finger, and look down on ‘the others’, and talk about ‘the lost’ while they themselves speak judgment on ‘those other sinners’

    I cannot support those who would destroy the Church that still that brings in the ones who pray for God’s mercy . . . . the Church belongs the THEM, who seek Christ, not to the Pharisees who need no saving because they are already above all sinners in their own minds

    some thoughts


  5. What is interesting here is not that he “spoke truth to power”, but that he is preferring truth to power.
    I have strong feelings but not yet very clear ideas about power and Christians: Jesus’ example seems to me to indicate that we should stay the hell away from it. That would be my default position, exceptions would need justifying. Jesus divested himself of the power that was rightfully his. Maybe that was inevitable and unique to his incarnation. Or maybe it was a feature and part of the example for us to follow. All of his temptations seemed to be about using power, or not. And he chose not.


  6. Good grief, Chaplain! Internetmonk has become a magnet for liberals & Trump-haters. Probably have some flag & anthem kneelers in here, too. What the heck? You’re about as diverse as the mainstream media. Someone needs to put a link on here for psychologists who deal with Trump Derangement Syndrome. These folks need help!


  7. This site has become a politically liberal, pro-Lutheran oasis for the crotchety and dissatisfied. Too darn bad!


  8. What is the rank above which an officer can no longer be questioned? Presumably higher than second lieutenant?


  9. On the other hand, isn’t this just another way of saying that he agrees with Trump on nearly everything, but wishes Trump were less vulgar? Isn’t this just a matter of style over substance?


  10. Those arm-bands and tiki torches . . . . . . why do they keep bring up the images of ‘The Lord of the Flies’ for me? Something in our land has become ‘acceptable’ to a segment of our population that is unspeakable and vile and destructive. And DT has encouraged it. God have mercy.

    “The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.”
    (William Golding, Lord of the Flies)


  11. I can’t add anything more to what you’ve said here. This is hitting the nail o n the head, especially for those who call themselves Christians.


  12. I think Donald Trump is fair game given how many evangelicals embraced him. I also think it shows how evangelicalism is morally and ethically bankrupt. When I write at my blog I lose people over issues about politics or racism. And yet I find it hard to believe that those issues should be ignored as they are issues in the modern church.

    I cried when I watched Flake’s speech. Given my past with Mormonism I find it challenging that many evangelicals would dismiss Flake because he is Mormon. And yet as a Mormon he had the courage and strength to do what so many cannot. I am proud of Jeff and find it a sad day when society has come to this point. Why don’t people care about these topics are beyond me. We have entered a time in history where the only thing that matters is tribalism. You see that in evangelicalism (TGC, Neo-Cals) you saw that in culture and you see that in politics. Grieve and mourn for our society, as this is what is destroying it. Its not the minorities or the gays, or other elements. People get corrupted I think when they want to preserve power at any and all costs.


  13. I haven’t seen any. The rot in christianity to me seems total, the surrender complete.

    And as far as religious leaders talking about this in church, well good on them if they do but most of us on the left won’t be there. We’ve been gone since 2004 at the very latest. You told us back then ‘you need to talk more openly about religion’. “Okay, let me give it a try,” I said, “I don’t believe in religion. Any religion. Or any god. Or any prayers or magic or miracles. There, that talking openly enough for you?” Then I left the church. I will never, ever return.


  14. I am NOT a Pence fan at all;
    however Pence doesn’t appear to be ‘crazy’ about using nukes and starting wars. He may be, and the nation could suffer under him from moving towards a Christian Dominionism;
    but I doubt Pence has been pressured by Putin to abandon NATO and break with all of our valuable (if imperfect) alliances. He seems a little man, a ‘yes’ man, a ‘shill’ for Trump, but he doesn’t seem to be as childish or ‘crazy’ or so needy of praise.

    Would Pence throw us to the Dominionists? In a heartbeat. I guess they are just another kind of fascists.

    My opinion. From what I have seen and heard on Fox News which panders to the Trump and Pence base.

    Has Pence ever done the ‘Russia is our friend’ garbage???? I’m not sure. I hope not.

    Right now, China is rising. The Europeans are no longer looking to Trump’s leadership for anything to be counted on. And Russia is planning its intervention into our 2018 elections full steam ahead. And the top 1 % of our earners are celebrating their huge tax break that is being worked out as we speak. Glad my good father’s generation did not live to this disaster unfold. It means something that the corruption is being done so openly under Trump, and with the tacit approval of so many who had the obligation to country to speak up for the sake of country . . . . but they would not

    John McCain. Honorable remnant of an older generation . . . . . we won’t see the likes of that generation again, I fear. They ARE being missed.

    John Kelly. Hold the fort against the crazy for as long as you can, good servant.


  15. MAGA ?

    The House just voted on a ‘tax plan’ that awards 80% of the benefits to the top 1% of earners. Go figure.
    I guess it works for Trumpworld, though.


  16. Ever heard the one about how Presidential candidates deliberately pick their running mates as Impeachment Insurance?


  17. Flake and Corker realized they were NOT going to win their primary next year. But ironically if they could have won the primary it was likely they would win the general. So by taking themselves out of the races now they can speak their minds and not have their sound bites become election ad fodder.

    So they said they would not run. Now they can say whatever they want. And most likely have more influence.


  18. Flakes speech was NOT about policy. That was CM’s point. (I think.)

    Flake was talking about the HOW not the what.

    I may disagree with Flake’s policies but I’m very much OK with his approach to advocating for them.


  19. Stbndct, I’m sorry to say this, but sometimes it’s simply a matter of how much I’m able to be engaged at any given time in the discussion. When I read your comment, I had some time to participate, but at other times comments may slip by because I’m doing other things, like working. Please don’t take it personally or think I’m picking on you. I’m an imperfect moderator and it rarely has anything to do with “motivations.” It’s the nature of being a blogger while trying to have a life too.


  20. During my time in-country in the Seventies, I observed that Salvation (and your decoder ring as Really a Christian) came as several TRUTH!s wrapped in a single all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it (and have fun in Hell) package deal:
    * Young Earth Creationism
    * Rapture eschatology (any minute now… any minute now…)
    * Altar Call/Sinner’s Prayer salvation/conversion
    * God Hates Sin (like YOU) With Such a Perfect Hatred…
    * That he took out on His Son (Penal Substitutionary Atonement)
    * Sin-sniffing and Witch-hunting (Beware Thou of the Mutant)
    * Spiritual (narrowly-defined) vs everything else – WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

    Since last year, another TRUTH! has been added to the package:
    * Trump is LORD.


  21. Yes, what is that all about? I’ve got a couple of Orthodox cousins in SC like that and read Russia Insider, which is clearly a propaganda site.


  22. Mike, why is everyone else allowed to deflect the question but me. You should really check your motivations.


  23. Trump doesn’t need to hire out of work thugs to harass his political opponents. Steve Bannon is doing the recruitment for him. And he’s doing it for free!


  24. Did you hear that, immediately in the hours after making that fine speech and expressing his intention to resign rather than be corrupted by Trumpism, Senator Flake joined other Republican Senators in nullifying a new law that would’ve given consumers the ability participate in class action suits against banks and other financial institutions? Wells Fargo and Equifax can breathe easier tonight, saved just in the nick of time by Senator Flake and his colleagues.


  25. He won’t though. a touching Trump’s character, Sen. Flake’s other comments are spot on; Trump is a showman and a bully, not a politician.

    He’s also not the five alarm fire Robert F thinks he is. He isn’t hiring out-of-work thugs to harass his political opponents like Lenin did his first week in power. Trump will be remembered by a signally unsuccessful President whose worst crimes were being churlish, self-absorbed, unfashionable and not very bright.

    If the concerns that put him into office are not addressed, however, we will get a thoroughly efficient political technician who will address them. 40% of the country will abhor him. 40% will adore him. 20% will hate the 40% that abhor him enough to put him in office.


  26. These folks know or perhaps better, intuit that they have lost the culture war and are latching onto anything that promises the contrary. They have sold their souls for access and when Trump crashes and burns, assuming anything is left standing, they will go down with him. They have shamed and destroyed themselves.


  27. Guess that’s why we have state news, powered by Fox.

    Did you hear what the Republican led FCC did today? The Federal Communications Commission today eliminated a decades-old rule that required TV and radio stations to maintain studios in the local communities they serve. So good news! All local stations can be programmed by their fair and balanced masters.


  28. You can exclude some Russian Orthodox, who seem ready to start painting (or writing, to use the correct theological term), Putin Icons. Like Evangelicals with Trump, Putin can do no wrong in their eyes.


  29. Excellent speech by Senator Flake. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

    Does President Trump have ears to hear? Here is a sampling of his Twitter account from yesterday and today:

    Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts….

    Corker dropped out of the race in Tennesse when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!

    Isn’t it sad that lightweight Senator Bob Corker, who couldn’t get re-elected in the Great State of Tennessee, will now fight Tax Cuts plus!

    Sen. Corker is the incompetent head of the Foreign Relations Committee, & look how poorly the U.S. has done. He doesn’t have a clue as the entire World WAS laughing and taking advantage of us. People like liddle’ Bob Corker have set the U.S. way back. Now we move forward!

    So nice being with Republican Senators today. Multiple standing ovations! Most are great people who want big Tax Cuts and success for U.S.

    The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected. Now act so hurt & wounded!

    The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!

    Jeff Flake, with an 18% approval rating in Arizona, said “a lot of my colleagues have spoken out.” Really, they just gave me a standing O!



  30. Rupert Murdoch has admitted that he speaks with Trump several times a week. This was in an interview with Hollywood trade journal The Hollywood Reporter.


  31. a strange phenomenon: the evangelical support/worship of Trump

    honestly, what exactly is going on there?


  32. If that’s the case, moderates will probably end up in the Democrat party. Maybe we can pull it back to the commom sense center.


  33. Can y’all calm down a minute? I don’t know if anyone noticed, but Sen Flake’s speech carried within it the key to understanding the Trump phenomenon: It’s the policies

    It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party — the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things.. Wow, thanks Sen. Jeff.

    Now ask yourself. To which of these three positions was the Democratic party opposed. Well, the first, kinda. It has become painfully clear that the Republicans are the Big Business branch of the Cheap Labor party, and the Democrats are the Big Government branch of the Cheap Labor party.

    As soon as Trump announced he was going to do something about illegal immigration, I realized he’d win the Republican nomination, Only 20% of Americans benefit from “free” trade. 40% have been shellacked by it. Rubio, after having been hoodwinked by Lucky Chucky Shumer into supporting the 2014, had no shot at the nomination. Ted Cruz should have jumped on that dropped ball in January and sucked the air out of the Trump campaign. No way Jeb would ever say a peep against immigration.

    Trump could go to 45-50% by declaring a moratorium on ALL immigration for the next six months and dedicating himself to REAL immigration reform, based on determining what kind of immigrants our country needs and how many, and yes, promoting assimilation.


  34. I understand and agree almost all the way with you, and yet…there’s something that nags me in all this. I think this statement might capture it:

    –> “If we cannot talk in these terms, then Christianity has nothing to say to governments.”

    I’m not sure Christianity is intended to talk to governments. Jesus said almost nothing about the Roman empire. He didn’t even challenge the slave culture. His mission was directed at people and their need to change. Maybe as I re-read Flake’s statement I can see he’s addressing that in a nuanced way, but I’m still having trouble not seeing this as too political for this blog site.

    But others feel strongly that it’s okay, so…Okay! 😉


  35. Adam, I appreciate and agree with your statements almost all the time, but be careful of echo chamber statements such as these:

    –> “I think the difference/contrast is pretty stark. I fail to see how one could be mistaken for the other – and if someone else cannot see the contrast…”


  36. I predict the Republican Party will continue to bend in the direction of Trump and Trumpism, as it is at this very moment, until its platform and leaders are completely transformed into the image of the new political movement. I further predict that the opposition among Republican Congresspeople who want to keep their positions, who want to be reelected, will not grow in the least.


  37. Trump is winning; more importantly, Trumpism is winning; by getting out of the way, Flake and Corker are making their total victory more likely. We need principled Republican politicians to stay in place and take a stand against it, not make eloquent speeches, or issue cutting Tweets about adult daycare centers, then cut and run. The Gettysburg Address was eloquent, but its eloquence was accompanied by strong resolve and action; that made all the difference.


  38. Flake made a fine speech about resisting Trumpism, and then he announced that he would resign from the place where he might most effectively take that stance. How exactly is he going to resist? I read the linked article in the post defending Flake’s choice, but it doesn’t convince me. Sure, it will be unpleasant for Trump to have Flake and Corker speaking their minds while they await the end of their terms, but, as Trump knows, he is more popular than either Flake or Corker among the Republican electorate that counts. All he has to do is bide his time, and harp on his mantra that they are losers who quit because they had no chance of winning; and, if he’s lucky, which he seems to be much of the time, they will be replaced by Bannon-annointed candidates who will be total Trumpists. No, Flake should have fought for reelection, even against the worst odds, and told the truth, and resisted, while doing so. As it is, he made a fine speech, has a little more time to speak while people may still be listening, and then he will go to political pasture, where no one will pay him much attention any longer.


  39. I don’t get the trump fanaticism among evangelicals either, but I do know it’s peculiar to America. Christians in other parts of the world are almost universally able to see that the emperor has no clothes. That tells me it’s more about what American white evangelicalism has become culturally, socially and in terns of ethnicity than it is about any real faith or orthodoxy of belief.

    Personally, I think they’ve been making bargains for power since the start of the culture wars, and this particular time they made a bargain with the devil for a shot at ultimate (in their eyes at least) power. Fear and racism/xenophobia have also played a part. It’s a weird mix, none of it good.

    As for end times yearning, Jim Bakker has said a lot of crazy stuff like that and it’s on youtube, but I can’t think of any mainstream evangelical who has gone public with that argument.


  40. And btw, no mere civilian has the right to question the veracity of a military man like General Kelly, according to White House Press Secretary Huckabee Sanders. You’d best listen up, civilian!


  41. You are not supposed to question the POTUS, or his functionaries. What they say is truth delivered from on high. The “fake news” and “liberal press” are liars because they contradict him and his people. No other reason is needed for those with their heart in the right place.


  42. Australia’s democracy is different to USA. We have a parliamentary system, with the guy at the top being the leader of the party that wins the election, he is called the Prime Minister. Having said that, we also have issues with the same type of problems outlined in the Senator’s speech. Of course given our position in the world it has a lesser effect internationally. But I can tell you the average Aussie is fed up with the political shenanigans and coarseness of behaviour in our parliament. Oh for someone like the Senator to speak to our situation! We’re looking for statesmen but all we get are politicians.


  43. I predict that the Republican led Congress will never take steps to impeach the POTUS. We are watching the Republican Party morph into a new form right before our eyes. It will become the party of Stephen Bannon, Roy Moore, Joe Arpaio, and those like them. The pieties of conservatism for the last 30 years will go the way of the dodo.


  44. In my mind most discord is caused by fake news and the liberal press.

    As opposed to the state press and real facts? I’m really going to need a source to back up this fake news and “liberal press” complaint.


  45. I’m glad he Tweets. We get a view directly into his soul almost every time he does, and that’s good, because we need to see how disturbing it really is.


  46. Trump supports use Clinton to excuse his behavior. Trump is POTUS and many so called “evangelicals” have embraced him. If one looks at how Trump treats others and then you come that behavior with the Sermon on the Mount, you find a Trump is not acting in a Christian manor to put it mildly. Trump treats others in a manor that is the opposite of Christ Like.

    Many Trump supports have put up with behaviors that they were extremely critical of with Pres. Clinton. I guess power is more important than righteousness for many so called “evangelical” Christians.


  47. Stbndct, if that happens, I will applaud the victory of truth and integrity. That is not what this post is about. Do not deflect the discussion from the real issue here. Senator Flake’s speech is neither fake news nor is it from the liberal press. It is a thoughtful, historically informed, and eloquent speech by one of the most conservative members in the government who recognizes an emperor without clothes when he sees one.


  48. Rick, you certainly haven’t heard a lot of “railing against” Trump here. I’ve consciously avoided that. But these are words by a genuine Conservative Republican, a Mormon by faith, who has an excellent grasp on what it means to hold to high ideals and to conduct oneself with dignity. This address to the Senate about a sitting president is unprecedented in my lifetime and as well-written a speech as I’ve read in a long, long time. He advocates the kind of moral, ethical, and behavioral high bar that I believe Christians should hold public officials to, no matter what their political leanings. This is not about left or right, Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive, one political position or another. It is about moral sanity. It is about attempting to restore a measure of respect to our public institutions. If we cannot talk in these terms, then Christianity has nothing to say to governments.


  49. Don’t forget Corker. He and McCain got this ball rolling. I predict that opposition will grow the closer to Trump’s first anniversary in office. After that, the Russia investigation will be used as leverage against him. If he wants it to go away, he must go away.


  50. In my recent experience, every lecture about “THE CLINTONS! THE CLINTONS! THE CLINTONS!” gets immediately followed by the “TRUMP CAN DO NO WRONG!” lecture. It’s like some sort of Multiple Derangement Syndrome that starts a canned rant.



  51. Trump also needs to get off Twitter.
    Every time he Tweets, he becomes his own worst enemy.


  52. In my mind most discord is caused by fake news and the liberal press. Let’s now look at the DNC, Clinton, and how the Russia collusion will now come right back on the Democratic heads. The Clinton Foundation, Comey, and even Mulller participated in some shady dealings. Think it’s lies. Just wait and see.


  53. What gets me is how a guy like Trump can inspire such levels of religous fanaticism among Born-Again Bible-Believing (white) Evangelicals. Whether it’s Kingmaker Dobson pronouncing Trump a Born-Again Christian to Jeffers prophesying over him as God’s Anointed to the more usual Trump Can Do No Wrong types I keep running into.

    It reminds me of all the End Time Prophecy types smugly tsk-tsking about all those who Take the Mark of the Beast after the Rapture (and seeing nothing out of the ordinary happening at all) In Christian Apocalyptic fiction, taking the Mark instantly makes the markee utterly and fanatically loyal to The Beast. This was usually explained with a Verse: “God Shall Send Them Strong Delusion That They Shall Believe a Lie (tsk tsk).” Yet these Christians are acting toward the Trump EXACTLY like the Trib Beast Worshippers they sneered at.

    In a related vein, I’m trying to track down a source of what might be a Christian Urban Legend. Someone (I don’t remember who) related running into Christians immediately after the 2016 election who said they voted for Trump BECAUSE he would start a nuclear war and thus jump-start the Rapture/Armageddon checklist. (This is very much a reboot of the “Christians for Nuclear War” attitude I encountered during my time in-country during the Cold War.) I’ve eliminated the possible sources except for something I may have read on the Web. Does that anecdote ring a bell with anyone here?


  54. Mueller will have enough proof to bring before the public that will enable the Congress to take measures to remove DT from office legally.

    I’m sure they’ll have grounds to start proceedings AFTER the nuclear exchange…

    Until then, we’ll have to put up with Born-Again Evangelical Trump Worshippers.

    “I give Donald Trump praise and adoration.”
    — ChapmanEd over at the Wondering Eagle comment threads


  55. Listen to men like General Kelly? After the Wilson/Johnson episode, specifically his misrepresentations of Rep. Wilson’s past remarks, which he refuses to apologize for even though video of the event in question proves that Kelly was either wrong or lying, it seems that General Kelly is as truth-challenged as his boss. No, Kelly will not save the day; he has become like his master.


  56. > Christian blogs talked openly about the Trump disaster

    To their credit many do. Mere Orthodoxy comes to mind – as far far far as I am from their author’s political positions they have no equivocated in the slightest, for which they should rightfully be admired and congratulated.

    What is needed far more desperately is **pastors** to talk openly. Speaking as a community organizer and activist – what moves people across partisan divisions is person to person conversations; the balm for these rifts is not online, or in ‘the media’, it is in our local communities, including our churches. People have to talk to people – talk as in talk – with words in person.


  57. I don’t think Michael was shy about saying what Christianity should and should not stand for or agree with in the public square, and I can’t see him being silent about Trump any more than he was silent about malfeasance and misbehavior anywhere else. Add to that the fact that white evangelicals became part of the public conversation when they voted 80% for Trump, and I think the topic is entirely appropriate.

    I’m not even a Republican (registered independent), and I certainly would not agree with most of his policy positions, but I thought Flake’s speech was good, honest, morally courageous and very much needed. The kind of commitment it articulated to higher principles and morals is something that needs to encouraged and fostered by the church. Instead, what we’ve seen is a strong majority of white evangelicals supporting one of the most vile, untruthful, mean-spirited, petty and unstable individuals ever to hold high office in this land. I will stand right beside anyone who seeks to remedy that and raise things out of the gutter.


  58. > blogs we criticized when they railed against Obama

    I think the difference/contrast is pretty stark. I fail to see how one could be mistaken for the other – and if someone else cannot see the contrast between the conduct of these administrations I doubt Mr. Flake’s comments were well received.

    As stated: “Flake’s critique is not based on political or policy differences; it is a denunciation of moral and ethical bankruptcy…”


  59. I hear you, I really do, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but think we’re now not much different than the Christian blogs we criticized when they railed against Obama.


  60. I think it’s about time all Christian blogs talked openly about the Trump disaster.

    I await the courage of the Republicans in the USCongress to get a grip and take a stand against the crazy. ‘Normalization’ of Trumpism? Never. No. No way.

    The man is a liar. And it is about time someone stood up and said that the emperor has no clothes.

    Very proud of John McCain. And am appreciative of both Corker and Flake speaking up.

    DT is NOT a conservative or a Republican, no. He’s in a class by himself. I’m over it. I do respect the Executive Branch, and that is why I appreciate those who are speaking out against the abuse of its power.
    One hopes DT will stop the nonsense and listen to men like Gen. Kelly, but it all continues. Maybe in time, Mueller will have enough proof to bring before the public that will enable the Congress to take measures to remove DT from office legally. It cannot happen fast enough because of all the tensions with N. Korea. Very stressful days, these.


  61. Rick, sorry but I heartily disagree. If Jesus-shaped spirituality does not speak to conduct in the political realm, then what were the prophets doing? Why did John the Baptist criticize Herod? Why did Jesus call Herod a fox? Why do the NT epistles foretell the triumph of God’s kingdom over the pagan nations? Why does the Book of Revelation call Rome Babylon and portray God’s judgment on the empire?

    Flake’s critique is not based on political or policy differences; it is a denunciation of moral and ethical bankruptcy, the betrayal of dignity and ideals, and the vicious tactics and language of those who see politics as warfare.

    He was right to speak against that. A blog like ours is right to commend him for doing so.


  62. While I agree with what Senator Flake said, I think this kind of post is more suited for the iMonk community on Facebook than here at a site intended for “continuing Michael Spencer’s legacy of Jesus-shaped spirituality.” Now some may see Jesus sprinkled all throughout this speech, but others won’t. It reminds me of some of the criticism I hear from folks here about pastors who bring politics into their Sunday messages. Just because we agree with the stance doesn’t mean we should be okay with it being done, or else we’re just being hypocritical by saying “Awful” when we don’t like the stance and “Bravo” when we do.


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