Opinion: Trump rallies are like revival meetings . . .

I’m not the first to say this, Trump rallies are like revival meetings, with Trump as the ‘preacher’ . . . spreading *his* particular *gospel* message.

But since Trump is merely a pretty good con artist, his *gospel* is full of lies and half-truths and whatever he thinks will ‘work’ “on the crowd.”  Eventually he will be found out, exposed, but he’s not thinking about that now . . . not when he has so much power and receives so much praise (primarily from varieties of sycophants).

Trump is in love with himself and thinks that you/we should consider ourselves blessed just to be in the same room with him . . . just to be in his presence.  He expects adulation.  Nay, he demands it.  He doesn’t ‘get it’ why 2/3 of Americans passionately loathe him.

People that go to revival meetings are usually not showing up to challenge what they’re about to hear.  They show up because they support the ‘gospel’ being preached.  It’s what they want to hear.  It’s what they came for . . . the whole dog and pony show.  You get out your special shirt or jacket and/or MAGA hat and show up.  And since Mr. Trump is/was a celebrity, and celebrities are worshipped in our world, a certain percentage of people in this country will ‘worship’ him and hang on his every word.  How anyone can get so worked up about ‘any‘ politician is beyond me.  We need to appreciate people without treating them like ‘gods.’  Celebrity gushing is disgusting.  Could he have been elected if he hadn’t been a celebrity?  No way!

Trump himself boasted that he could shoot someone on 5th Ave. in NYC and get away with it.  Why would he think this?  Well, in NYC, for three decades or more, he *has* gotten away with whatever he’s done.  So far, he’s gotten away with what’s he done as POTUS.  He’s gotten away with his NYC antics except for the fact his reputation in NYC was/is in the gutter and he had to go outside the U.S. to find a bank that would lend him money.  Does he owe Russia lots and lots of money?  Some reporting indicates this.

And IF he did cooperate with Russia to win the 2016 election, will he get away with that tooWhy doesn’t the *entire* country, every citizen, want to know the answer to that question?  What is Trump so afraid of?  There has been a ‘cover up.’  It’s ongoing, and that is clear.  The question is *what* does he *not* want exposed and revealed to the American public?  What is he trying to obfuscate?  What’s he trying to protect?  There’s something — it’s self-evident and also the media has been exposing this and that for a year or more.

I’ve been apolitical prior to Trump.  I’ve only been following political news since Nov. 2016 and it’s been a SHOCK.  What I see (mainly) the GOP in Congress doing is thoroughly disgusting and revolting — shocking and alarming!  They appear to have a blatant disinterest and disregard for the TRUTH . . . the ABSENCE of a REAL DESIRE to LEARN what REALLY HAPPENED. 

For me *anyone* doing the things Trump does and has done would get me riled up.  Any grossly unfit person in the POTUS chair would get my back up in the air.  Anyone cooperating with the Russians to win an election in America should be hanged by the neck until dead on TV, for all the world to see.  IF he did work with the Russians to win the 2016 election, that’s precisely what should happen.  Of course it won’t happen, even if he’s found 100% guilty.

IF he is NOT guilty, Americans need to know that, as a fact, independently verified.  IT SEEMS LIKE HE WOULD WANT THAT TOO — TO BE CLEARED.  But he doesn’t behave like an innocent person who has nothing to fear.  He appears to have lots of fears re: this investigation.  If there’s no there there, what is he afraid of?

If we can’t trust a man like Robert Mueller, we can’t trust anyone.  He is a decorated war hero!  In the military he literally took a bullet for his country.  The lap-dogs in the GOP need to leave his investigation alone.  There’s no way Mueller will *fabricate* evidence (that doesn’t exist).  For, unlike Trump, Mueller is an honorable man.  As soon as he learned of any improprieties by someone on his team, they were gone.

Much of the Steele dossier has been provenWhy won’t Congress release the FUSION GPS testimony transcripts?  There was more than ten hours of testimony!  The GOP in Congress clearly want to discredit and/or block the TRUTH.

The GOP in Congress clearly do NOT WANT to know what happened, so long as they can get Trump to sign the stuff they want him to sign.  This is repugnant and known as personal self-interest, and putting self interest above party interests, and party interests above what’s best for the country . . . which puts country last, when it ought to be first.  The GOP seems to have a blatant disregard for the rule of law and the rule of law must prevail.





What’s *wrong* with/in America

An opinion piece.

Perhaps a list will illustrate:

  1. People don’t vote; they must be compelled to.  (See #11)
  2. Baby Boomers must be much less passive and do far more to ‘right the ship’ and keep it away from destruction.
  3. Civic education must be mandated (ages 5 – 95) with periodic testing and demonstration of competency.  People are politically disengaged and uneducated on:
    • relevant issues
    • the voting history of incumbents
    • American history and world history
    • many other relevant things
  4. The Electoral College was created by slaveholders and is an outdated system which should be abandoned.  A candidate for POTUS, subject to Senate confirmation, may win ONLY by obtaining the most votes from American voters.
  5. The Founding Fathers were visionaries but obviously did not conceive of a candidate like Trump.  The U.S. Constitution is weak and extremely absurd in places, for example the qualifications for POTUS.  Amendments are needed, post haste.
  6. Politicians in Congress are all WEALTHY, most of them millionaires and thus out of touch with, and disinterested in, the ‘common man’ (in the lower and middle classes).  They must *prove* (by their deeds, actions, and personal voting record) that they are responding to the needs and desires of their constituents; or, be subject to a special election in their state whereby they will be removed from office and replaced.
  7. Most politicians in Congress put self interest above Party interest and Party interest above the interests of their constituents and the nation.  (See #6)
  8. The government has a lack of transparency.  For example, the Senate spent more than $1.45 million settling workplace harassment and discrimination cases over the past 20 years.  We weren’t told (by Obama, prior to the election) that the Russians tried to hack the 2016 POTUS election and may have had help from the Trump campaign, etc.  If the public becomes aware of significant information suppression, the Congress and POTUS will be held accountable and special elections will occur, as needed.
  9. Our present system permitted a completely unqualified, mentally ill, narcissistic bully, reality show celebrity to become POTUS.  This is prima facie evidence the system needs a tweak and a tune-up.  The requirements for POTUS must be among the highest in the land.  Any POTUS candidate must *demonstrate* an ability to meet the requirements and obligations of the Office of POTUS prior to being permitted to run in a primary.
  10. Voting is cumbersome . . . by design; designed to suppress the will/voice of the People (the average person).  A voting system should be developed online, with necessary safeguards and security, and/or voters in the POTUS and Congressional elections should be able to mail in their vote via the USPS over an extended (perhaps two-week) time period .
  11. Voting in the POTUS and Congressional elections should be *mandatory* with stiff fines and penalties for failing to vote.  The Greeks had a term for those who did not actively participate in their democracy: idiotai.
  12. Gerrymandering and other forms of election rigging and manipulation must be banned.
  13. Negative campaign ads should be banned.  Candidates may only articulate what they plan to do . . . what they hope to accomplish and how.
  14. Our country is controlled by oligarchs.  Every candidate for a federal position should have the *same* dollar amount to spend, *same* amount of publicity.
  15. Powerful families, special interest groups and lobbyists should be prohibited from making any contribution large enough to make a candidate beholden to them.  All contributions must be made a matter of public record, listed/revealed online.  All cronyism and quid pro quo political payback must be curtailed, by law, at every level of government.
  16. The military-industrial complex must be closely monitored and checked, as needed.  The DoD budget must be leaner, covering mainly essentials.  There must be greater accountability of government spending coupled with public approval prior to large expenditures.
  17. Watchdog groups (staffed by the best and the brightest with impressive resumes) should abound (to hold/keep elected officials accountable).  Legitimate media outlets must be highly respected and cooperated with to the utmost.
  18. News programs should be required to report only factual news . . . in contrast with *opinion* programs, and *speculation* programs, which should clearly and frequently remind viewers/listeners that what they are consuming are biased opinions, not merely (occasional) factual news.
  19. The U.S. should lead strong, ongoing efforts toward eliminating nuclear weapons everywhere.
  20. Something similar to the Geneva Convention must be developed and implemented with respect to cyberwarfare.
  21. The POTUS must be subject to the same rules and regulations that any officer in the U.S. military is subject to, including being subject to conduct unbecoming chargesAny *appearance* of conduct unbecoming must be dealt with harshly and immediately by the Congress (as required by law).  The POTUS should be required to conduct himself/herself as a gentleman/gentle lady at all times.  All the ‘boundary violations’ Trump has committed clearly need to be spelled out, and put into the rule of law . . . for without the rule of law, with some people, improprieties will abound.  With Trump it’s as if a school board has appointed the most incorrigible bully the President of the Board.  Naturally this bully will try to destroy as many guidelines, guardrails and traditions as possible.
  22. Any federal government official, including the POTUS, who knowingly lies to the American public must be immediately dismissed from office.
  23. Lifetime appointments to federal courts and/or other federal positions are reduced to six-year terms subject to expert, nonpartisan oversight.
  24. The Senate must *confirm* an elected POTUS, to ensure he/she is truly qualified, enjoys a longstanding good reputation in  his community, is known to be a person of unimpeachable honor, honesty, integrity, etc. with no dubious history and/or checkered past (including illegal and/or inappropriate contacts, associations, and/or help from foreign governments) and/or multiple personal lawsuits and/or personal and/or business-related bankruptcies.
  25. Any candidate for office of POTUS must reveal his/her three (3) most recent tax returns to the American people prior to ‘running’ for office.
  26. No POTUS may be allowed to appoint close, personal friends and/or relatives to any position in the federal government, ever.

I realize much of the above has about as much chance to happen as requiring, by law, that politicians everywhere MUST tell the TRUTH or be removed from office.




USA Today says Flynn’s ‘guilty’ plea is a BIG DEAL

WASHINGTON — Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty Friday to a charge that while serving in the White House, he lied to FBI agents about prior contacts with Russia’s ambassador.

Here’s why that is such a big deal:

Flynn’s plea represents the first time that the Russia investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, has penetrated Trump’s inner circle.

Flynn was a close adviser to President Trump, both in the White House and as part of the Trump campaign. The president cannot dismiss Flynn as a low-level aide or as someone he hardly knew.

Flynn served as the president’s national security adviser until he resigned in February after admitting that he misled Vice President Pence and other White House officials about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Before becoming national security adviser, Flynn was a top adviser and high-profile surrogate for Trump during his presidential campaign. He famously led attendees at the Republican National Convention in a chant of “lock her up” — referring to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

 The only other person to plead guilty so far in the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign that Trump dismissed in a tweet as a “low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar.”  Papadopoulos, like Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Unlike Flynn, Papadopoulos never worked in the White House.

In addition to Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign associate Rick Gates have been charged in connection with Mueller’s investigation, but not for actions taken while working for Trump. The indictment against them alleges that the pair worked for the government of Ukraine from at least 2006 to 2015 but did not register as lobbyists for a foreign government as required by law. It also alleges that they laundered money that they received for their work as lobbyists. The two men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

 Flynn’s guilty plea is an ominous sign for the White House, because it means that he is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation and could be giving prosecutors evidence against others.

Prosecutors said in court Friday that Flynn had agreed to cooperate with authorities.  However, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said Friday that nothing about Flynn’s guilty plea “implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”

Flynn says he coordinated with the president’s transition team

At least some of Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials had been coordinated with a “senior official of the presidential transition,” according to court documents Flynn signed.

Trump, like all incoming presidents, created a transition team to advise him between the Nov. 8 election and his Jan. 20 inauguration.

 Prosecutors charged that Flynn lied to agents about a Dec. 29 conversation with Kislyak about how Russia might respond to sanctions the U.S. government had levied over its election meddling. Shortly after that call with Kislyak, Flynn placed a call to a “senior official of the presidential transition” at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort, one of Mueller’s prosecutors, Brandon Van Grack, said. Then Flynn called the Russian ambassador again, prosecutors said.


Flynn is being prosecuted for lying about something that happened after Trump was elected president rather than something that happened during the campaign. 

In the court filing made public Friday, prosecutors allege that Flynn “did willfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to FBI agents during a Jan. 24 interview about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office.

Flynn has admitted he falsely told FBI agents that he did not ask Kislyak to delay a vote on a pending United Nations Security Council resolution when the two men spoke in December — when Trump was the president-elect. Flynn’s interview with the FBI agents came just four days after Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

According to court documents, Flynn and Kislyak discussed an upcoming U.N. Security Council vote on whether to condemn Israel for building settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. Flynn asked Kislyak to delay the vote even though the Obama administration, which was still running the government at the time, was planning to allow it to take place.

Trump allegedly asked former FBI Director James Comey to back off an investigation of Flynn.

Flynn, whom Trump continued to praise even after firing him, was so important to the president that Trump asked Comey to drop an investigation of Flynn’s ties to Russia, according to Comey’s public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June.

Comey said he was fired after he continued to pursue the investigation against Flynn as part of an overall probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Trump has denied Comey’s accusation, but Mueller is reportedly looking into it as part of an investigation into whether Trump may have committed obstruction of justice.

Contributing: Brad Heath, Gregory Korte


12/01/17 –> Flynn pleads GUILTY

(Reuters) – Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first U.S. national security adviser, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.

Here are five facts about Flynn:

Flynn was national security adviser for just 24 days, from Jan. 20, when Trump took office, to Feb. 13. Flynn was fired following disclosures that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with Sergey Kislyak, Moscow’s U.S. ambassador, and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

On Feb. 14, Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey in an Oval Office meeting to end the agency’s investigation into ties between Flynn and Russia, according to news media reports. Trump, who fired Comey on May 9, later denied making such a request.

Trump had named the former Army lieutenant general to the national security post despite red flags about Flynn’s Russian contacts and advocacy for warmer U.S. relations with Moscow, which has been under U.S. economic sanctions for years. Outgoing President Barack Obama had warned Trump not to hire Flynn, who had been fired by the Democratic president in 2014.

Flynn was an early and vociferous Trump supporter during the New York businessman’s 2016 White House run. He made vitriolic appearances on the campaign trail, notably leading the Republican National Convention in chants of “Lock her up,” referring to Trump’s Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In addition to Flynn’s contacts with Russia, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible ties between the Trump election campaign and Moscow has expanded its probe to include Flynn’s paid work as a lobbyist for a Turkish businessman in 2016, people with knowledge of the inquiry have told Reuters.

Compiled by Jonathan Oatis; editing by Grant McCool

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The U.S. Constitution is woefully inadequate re: POTUS requirements

There’s something extremely wrong when the POTUS is exempt from the ordinary (basic, fundamental) rules and regulations anyone else in the country *must* follow and obey.  Anyone else in the country would be fired if they grossly misbehaved and/or daily demonstrated their ineptness, incompetence, and inability to do the job they were hired/appointed to do.  The POTUS is shielded (to the detriment of all U.S. citizens) from the ordinary, normal, logical, natural consequences anyone else in the country would suffer (for incompetence and/or egregious behavior).

Any person, in almost any job/position, would’ve been dismissed if they did a fraction of what this POTUS has done since being installed by the bogus Electoral College.  Anyone else in the country would have had to demonstrate competency prior to getting the position.  

The U.S. Constitution is woefully inadequate.  As smart and savvy as the Founders were, they apparently could not envision a Trump . . . they would not believe the country would EVER permit an unscrupulous scoundrel to occupy the POTUS chair.

The Electoral College, created and designed to benefit slaveholders, failed to do its job when it put Trump into office.  They were supposed to protect the nation from all charlatans, madmen, and would-be dictators and make sure they could *not* be elected.  

The fact Trump is unfit, unqualified, and a menace to world peace, stability, and a safe, prosperous, United States is self-evident.  The Constitutional requirements for POTUS pertain to age and citizenship and nothing else!  Therefore, essential safeguards to protect the country from a man like Trump are deplorably absent.  If ever there was a time for Amendments to the Constitution to fix this most serious problem, NOW is the time.

Just as anyone (tacitly) expects any parent to keep their young children from playing in the middle of a busy street . . . the Founders apparently didn’t think it was necessary to state the obvious — only the fit and qualified should be elected.  If the Founders were still around they’d scream for Amendments (to the Constitution) to address their lack of vision and foresight.  Since they are *not* here . . . WE, the PEOPLE, must SCREAM.  

If you are ‘friends’ with Trump . . .

We can’t be friends if you are friends with Trump

In my opinion, Trump has found the loopholes, the weak spots.  Like a wild critter, he’s found a way to get in!  And like a wild critter he’s destroying things . . . vitally important things!  He’s exploited existing weaknesses in our political systems and in a way has hijacked them.  

I believe he cares ONLY about himself and treating the United States of America like his personal toilet paper doesn’t bother him in the least.  He never apologizes — I think he’s incapable of remorse.  This, ALONE, makes him UNFIT to *be* the POTUS . . . or be placed in ANY POSITION of RESPONSIBILITY . . . but ESPECIALLY the Office of POTUS.  

Instead of making any wise, creative, intelligent, diplomatic, energetic attempt to unite the country and improve the world he tries his best, daily, to be the antithesis of wise, creative, intelligent, diplomatic.  

What’s important to DT, from his POV, is winning.  That is what his father pounded into his head (while simultaneously withholding the love and affection that young Donald needed to grow and develop properly into a mature, compassionate, empathic, mentally fit, complete human being).  He said he is all about winning — has nothing but contempt for losers.  Winning, for him, means Donald Trump, personally, wins/benefits.  It’s all about him.  I hold these truths to be self-evident.

If confronted he’d say something like, We’ll I may be a nightmare, a madman, a chronic liar, smug, destructive, boorish, inept, disgusting, bellicose, dishonest, divisive, odious, crude, rude, contradictory, illogical, specious, ridiculous, hypocritical, crass, low, mean, mean-spirited, petty, insecure, unrefined, obnoxious, toxic, sick, despicable, offensive, uppity, inappropriate, delusional, clueless, pompous, asinine, vulgar, undignified, revolting, ignorant, stupid, unprecedented, wicked, devilish, self-serving, racist, full of toxic hubris and destructive narcissism . . . but what I do (that you know about so far) ain’t illegal.  And, by the way, WHO is the POTUS?  Who suffers zero consequences for his misbehavior and flagrant ineptitude  (so far, at least)?”  

He’s correct.  He is basically showing the world, by his behavior, what he would vocalize if he’d be completely honest: Gotcha!  Caught you with your pants down didn’t I!” He would certainly boast of it.  Many of the things he has broken (norms, decorum, standards, conventions and the like) should have been more explicit, AND put into law, to SAVE US from the likes of Trump — a scoundrel.  (His past, and his past behavior, speak volumes re: how he is and who he is.  The fact he’s a scoundrel is beyond dispute.)  

It’s been a while, but I am familiar with the saying, He’s just one of those people you have to spell everything out to or he’ll try to work the system and/or otherwise try to take advantage of you.  He 100% just out for his own enrichment, his own pleasure — more wealth, more power, more prestige, more pleasure, more worship from the public, etc.  Ya know, give him an inch and he’ll try and take a mile?  Ya know, completely unscrupulous.”  I believe such is our Mr. Trump.  He is insatiable.  What he’s trying to satisfy can never be satisfied.  He’s a human black hole.  In the future I would not be surprised to read this headline: Doctors say former President Donald J. Trump is an incorrigible sociopath.  He is dangerous!  Wait a minute . . . that’s what they’re saying NOW.  

Therefore, IF you are for Trump, then, in my opinion you are in favor of the above, and I’m against it.  I’ll say it again . . . what you are for, I’m against.  You would enable him and be an accomplice to his evil, wicked ways.  I desire to see him removed from office asap and punished severely if convicted of heinous crimes.  

What fellowship can rain have with trying to dry clothes outside (on a line)?  None.  They are at cross purposes.  They do not go together.  You are trying to *fill*, I am trying to *drain*.  We’re not going to be able to get along.  

To state it more simply, if you like Trump, our beliefs and values conflict so much that maintaining any kind of harmonious friendship would be an impossibility.  Unless . . . unless we tried to pretend that we are not, in part, political creatures.  But I don’t think we could maintain such a pretense.  

Apart from that this is about much more than politics; it’s about what it means to be a decent, honorable, caring human being and how Trump is not even attempting to do that.  The tragic thing is that I don’t believe he is capable . . . of doing that.  And that is something basic.  It’s How To Be A Decent Human Being 101.  In  other words, if he can’t crawl, he for sure won’t be able to run.  

Flake speaks for many, while many remain silent.


Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was one of President Trump’s first GOP critics. Rather than tamp down his criticism of the president to run for reelection next year, Flake announced Tuesday he’s retiring. And it’s entirely because of Trump. Flake gave a remarkable speech on the Senate floor that amounted to a heavy-hearted takedown of Trump the president, Trump the philosophy and Trump the man. The Fix has annotated Flake’s retirement speech using Genius. Click on the yellow highlighted text to read, and sign up for an account on Genius to add your own.

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 nauseum – 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 heathy 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.

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 Philadelphia and 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.