Jeff Flake: ‘Trump Can’t Hurt You. But He Is Destroying Us.’ – NYT

Mr. Flake is a former Republican senator from Arizona.

Credit…Gary Hershorn/Reuters

“Today, in what is meant to be a solemn ritual of democracy, Congress meets in joint session to consecrate the will of the American people and mark the election of Joe Biden as president.

Unfortunately, President Trump refuses to accept the reality of his substantial loss, and so becomes determined to create an alternate reality in which he won. As he crosses that rubicon, Mr. Trump has taken many in my party with him, all of whom seem to have learned the wrong lessons from this anomalous presidency. George Orwell, after all, meant for his work to serve as a warning, not as a template.

How many injuries to American democracy can my Republican Party tolerate, excuse and champion? It is elementary to have to say so, but for democracy to work one side must be prepared to accept defeat. If the only acceptable outcome is for your side to win, and a loser simply refuses to lose, then America is imperiled.

I once had a career in public life — six terms in the House of Representatives and another six years in the Senate — and then the rise of a dangerous demagogue, and my party’s embrace of him, ended that career. Or rather, I chose not to go along with my party’s rejection of its core conservative principles in favor of that demagogue. In a speech on the Senate floor on Oct. 24, 2017, I announced that because of the turn my party had taken, I would not run for re-election: the career of a politician that is complicit in undermining his own values doesn’t mean much.