tv U.S. Senate Sen. Jeff Flake Farewell Speech CSPAN December 28, 2018 8:45pm-9:07pm EST
desmond tutu, a very wise man, said, god's dream is that you and i and all of us will realize that we are family. that we are made for togetherness, for goodness and for compassion. thank you very much. i yield the floor. [applause] >> the senator from arizona. president, ir. would like to begin today by noting that the people of arizona and america have been very lucky.
my mother and father would have served in the house of representatives and the senate. everything i know about what matters most in life, i learned first at their dinner table. they wereeasons, otherwise preoccupied raising and feeding 11 children, working the land, running cattle to keep the business going, serving their church and community daily, and in too many other ways to count, my parents were too meaningfully occupied in life to detour to something that could be so frivolous as politics. you got their son instead. i rise today to say that it has been the honor of my life to represent my home, arizona in the united states senate. before that, in the house of representatives. it has been my honor and life chery'sing their son, husband, and a father.
through 18 years in washington, our kids grew up thinking it was normal to have their faces plastered on campaign signs along the roadside whenever campaigns rolled along. they were dragged to countless fundraisers and campaign events. debris used to having their dad join them, sort of, with a choreographed -- they were used to having their dad join them, sort of with a choreographed wave on c-span at dinnertime. and served as interns congressional pages. much of it they enjoyed, some of it they endured. but through all of it, they were not just good sports, but were extraordinarily understanding and supportive. cheryl is a rock on which our family was built. her strength and endless patience and love, her good
humor, even when congressional life was not always funny, and her belief when disbelief would have been perfectly reasonable. these are but a few of the long list of things that leave me simply awestruck by my wife. i think all of us who presume to hold his positions hope someone who loves them, at that we can never repay. if it cannot be repaid, they can at least be properly recognized. cheryl, that girl i met on the our wonderfulago, children, my brothers, my sisters, my extended family. john mccain often joked that the only way i ever got elected to anything was because of my hundreds of siblings and thousands of cousins. the truth hurts, i reckon. senator mccain may have been onto something there.
it was my honor to serve with him, as it has been my honor to serve with senator kyle. today, i am filled with gratitude. privilege of the loving and being loved by those people i mentioned. and of serving the state and country i love so well. grateful beyond measure and luckier than i deserve to be. i leave here grateful and optimistic. i will always treasure the friendships that began here in the kindnesses shown to me and my family by all of you, my colleagues. will forever cherish the work of our country that we were able to do together. from the bottom of my heart, i thank you all. as i stand your today, i am optimistic about the future, but my optimism is due more to the country that my parents gave to me then is due to the present condition of our civic life.
we are of course testing the institution of american liberty in ways none of us ever imagined we would and in ways we probably never should again. to say that our politics is not healthy is somewhat of an understatement. i believe that we all know well that this is not a normal time and that the threats to our democracy from within and none of us real, and can say with confidence how the situation we now find ourselves in will turn out. over the past two years, i've spoken a great deal on the subject from this chamber. there will be time enough later to return to it in other settings. in the time i have here today, and with your indulgence, i would instead like to speak somewhat more personally. as the authoritarian impulse reasserts itself globally, and global commitment to democracy
seems now to be on somewhat shaky ground, i've been thinking a lot about the american commitment to democracy, where it comes from and how, if the circumstances were right, it might slip away. this got me thinking about when i was a much younger man. when i had the privilege of witnessing the birth of a new democracy in africa. when i was about half the age i am now, and for my church mission, i went to south africa and zimbabwe. i fell in love with the people in these countries. and i were drawn back to southern africa for a namibia ine in february of 1990 at the very moment much of the world enslaved by totalitarianism was thrown off its shackles and the free world that the united states has led since world war exponentially.
the soviet union was in a glorious freefall, shedding day.lics seemingly by the eastern europe was squinting out into the light of liberation for the first time in 40 years. free markets and free minds were sweeping the world. freedom was breaking out in the southern hemisphere as well. the country where i was sitting, just that very morning, was itself only days old. in november of 1989, the same week the berlin wall came down, namibia had held its first election as an independent apartheidee from the administration of south africa. in noad come to pass small part because of leadership from the united states through the united nations. just days earlier, a document had been drafted a few blocks away from where i sat. a new democracy's found the
constitution, the inspiration for which had been the marvel of free people everywhere and those who aspire to be free, they united states constitution. time, i was in africa working for the foundation of democracy trying to ensure that namibia emerged from the process of gaining its independence as a democratic country. i role at the foundation, evangelized for democracy and democratic values. the benefits of which have been a given for me for my entire life. that i learnedy more about democracy from the lives of those around me, who aspired to it than those who experienced it as a birthright. as i sat there in a brand-new african democracy, i read the speech that the playwright and new president of the newly democratic czechoslovakia had just delivered before a joint session of the united states
congress, just across the way here in the house chamber. he has spent much of the previous decade and a communist dungeon, and his last arrest had been mere months before, he was quite astonished to find himself president of anything, much less the country of his oppressors. i sat there in africa and read , a love letter to america, literary and inspiring. i was overcome by his words. there is nothing quite like the sensation of having someone who is been stripped of everything but his dignity, reflecting the ideals of your own country back at you. in such a way that you see them more clearly than ever before, maybe for the first time. in some ways, that man knows our country better than you know it yourself.
i can only imagine how surreal it must have felt for him as he stood before the entire congress, the president, his cabinet, diplomatic corps, joint chiefs of staff assemble before him, the vice president and speaker of the house, all standing in a sustained ovation, a deep respect from the oldest democracy in the world to the newest, whose leader had been a political prisoner just a season earlier. he soberly poured out his gratitude to the united states for the sacrifice of our country had made in liberating europe once again and for the moral example of its leadership around the globe in opposing the soviet union, the country he said that rightly gave people nightmares. his odd appreciation for the values that too many of us might take for granted brought home to me an american in my mid-20's
sitting there in africa, the power of the american example to the whole world. and the humbling responsibilities that come with that power. it is no exaggeration to say that his disquisition on democracy before congress that point 1990 with a turning in my civic education. he similarly called out to the whole world from washington on that day with grace and without rancor, but with one mistaken prophecy that to me, now we just tragic, especially in the context of the here and now. felle time, as the wall in the soviet bloc that had been , the bign stalinism questions have been settled, that liberal democracy was andmphant and inexorable
the decline of the impulse to enslave whole countries was also inexorable. freedom had one, it was said -- won, it was said and forever. it was likely that he would have been inspired, which might explain this passage from a speech. he said i often hear the question, how can the united states help us today? paradoxical as my whole life has been. you can help us if you help the soviet union on its road to democracy. of course, history was not over. the road to democracy is not a reversible. not in moscow, not in america, not anywhere. a village ofg democracy for an agonizing
decade or so, the russians brought a strong man strangling russian democracy in its cradle. vladimir putin would go on to become president and as president still. just as he hijacked democracy in his own country, he is determined to do so everywhere. denial of this reality will not make it any less real. is something that is staring us in the face right now as we are gathered here today. as we in america during this moment of political dysfunction and a people contemplate the hard won conventions and norms of democracy, we must continually remind ourselves that none of this is permanent. that it must be fought for continually. similar station and the victories of freedom, history itself are not a matter of once
achieved, always safe. the president of czechoslovakia whosethis, our children, rights and prerogatives have never been in doubt are for the merce part -- most part, unaware of this. we are being reminded how delicate all of it is right now. the stability of tacit alliances sum up thelliances best of the consensus on foreign policy. it might seem that all of this has lately been tossed around like pieces on a board. it is important to remember that we have seen such tumult before, and it is a genius of the architects of our liberty that we can withstand it and reemerge the stronger for it. what struck me in namibia that they with such force and has stayed with me ever since is how vital a beacon they united
states is and has always been to the peoples of the world. both to those who are already free and those who still suffer in tierney. mr. president -- tyranny. let us recognize that the shadow again around once the globe. s an authoritarian reasserts themselves in country after country -- i'm reminded of my time in the senate. some staff who have worked for me for my entire 18 years in washington. have ablyof staff supervised the legislative team sot included over the years
christine,egan, jason, lihris, jacob, z, dan, jonathan, elizabeth and many more. they have kept me largely out of controversy, if not out of elevators during my entire time in office. dedicated caseworkers in my inte offices have helped many issues. i am frequently stopped as i'm sure many of my colleagues are in airports and grocery stores and thanked for the good work done by my staff. mary,you to buchanan, julie, melissa, mike, michael, elizabethke, chelsea,
and so many others for such dedicated constituent work over the years. to all who have served in my office, i will miss your wise counsel, but most of all your friendship. thank you. i would also like to say a word of thanks to the institutional officers that serve the senate so ably. the clerks, the parliamentarians, the floor the sergeantges, at arms and his employees, and the capitol police who keep us safe here in the capital and at times on distant baseball fields. i quite literally all my life to them. thank you. -- owe my life to them. thank you. speech, ithis last cannot help but look to my maiden speech i gave here six years ago. 12 it, i talked about how
newly elected senate freshman in 2012 were invited to the national archives and taken to the legislative vote were reviewed the original signed copy of the first spell ever enacted by congress as well landmark pieces of memorabilia. the oath of allegiance signed by revolutionary war soldiers, documents and artifacts related to the civil war and segregation, women suffrage and the civil rights movement were also on hand. i noted that it was an affirmation to me as the seastuous sees the ship -- the ship has sailed for more than 200 years with many individuals at the helm along with personalities ranging from mediocre to malevolent, but our system of government has survived it all. also noted then and i will cut today that serious challenges lie ahead.
we will note that we have confronted and survived more daunting challenges than we now face. ours is a durable, resilient system of government, designed to withstand the foibles of those who sometimes occupy these halls. including yours truly. i start a new chapter in the coming weeks. all forteful most of the privilege of having served with all of you here. it is my sincere hope that those in this body will always remember the words of lincoln who said we shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. the way forward, he said is plain, peaceful, generous, just. the which, if followed, world will forever applaud and god will forever bless.
i yield the floor. [applause] sen. heller: madam president, i rise with gratitude to address my colleagues and members of my staff enter effect on one of my life's greatest honors. that is serving the people of the great city of nevada. i would like to begin by thanking them for giving me the profound honor of representing the state in the united states congress for 12 years. and then in the united states senate for almost eight years. nevada, thank you for granting me the privilege of working every day for a state that i am