tv U.S. Senate Sen. Jeff Flake Farewell Speech CSPAN December 29, 2018 5:40am-6:02am EST
unforgettable memories. we have fought and we have cried and we have left together, just like family. you are family and i will miss you terribly. desmond tutu said god stream -- god's dream is that you and i and all of us will realize we are family, that we were made for goodness and compassion. thank you very much. [applause]
>> mr. president. begin by noting that have the people of arizona and america have been lucky. my mother or father would have house of the representatives and senate. everything i know about what matters most i learned at their dinner table, but for many reasons they were otherwise preoccupied raising 11 children, working the land, running cattle to keep the business, serving their church and community daily , and into many other ways to count. my parents were meaningfully occupied in life to the tour to something that can be so previous -- frivolous as politics. so you got their son. i rise to say it has been the honor of my life to represent
arizona in the senate and before that in the house. it has been my honor in life after being deemed cheryl's father.and our kids thought it normal to have their faces plastered on campaign signs. they were dragged to countless events. they were used to having their dad joined them with a choreographed wave on c-span at dinnertime. they spent summers in washington catching fireflies and voting with their dad on the house floor. they served as interns and congressional pages. much they enjoyed, some they endorsed but through while of it they were understanding and
supportive. what -- wascheryl the rock on which her our family is built. her good humor, even when congressional life was not funny , and her belief when disbelief would have been perfectly reasonable, these are but a few of the list of things that leave me awestruck my my wife. all of us who hold these positions oh someone who loves .s a debt we can never repay if they cannot be repaid, they can at least be property recognized. cheryl, that girl i met on a ago, our long wonderful children, my mothers,
sisters, extended family. john mccain joked the only way i got elected to anything was because of my siblings and thousands of cousins. the truth hurts. senator mccain may have been onto something. it was my honor to serve with honor.has been my i am filled with gratitude for the privilege of loving and being loved by the people i mentioned and of serving the state and country i love, grateful beyond measure and luckier than i deserve to be. i leave grateful and optimistic. i will always treasure the friendships that began and the kindnesses shown to me and my .amily by all of you i will forever cherish the work of our country that we were able to do together from the bottom
of my heart. i thank you. as i stand here today, i am optimistic but my optimism is due more to the country might parents gave to me then to the present condition of our civic life. we are testing the institution of american liberty in ways none of us imagined and in ways we never should. my colleagues, to say our politics is not healthy is an understatement. we all know well this is not a normal time and the threats to our democracy from within and without are real. none of us can say how the situation we find ourselves in will turn out. over the past two years i have spoken on the subject from this chamber. there will be times to return to it in other settings.
in the time i have today and with your indulgence, i would like to speak more personally. as the authoritarian impulse asserts itself globally and commitment to democracy seems to be on shaky grounds, i have been thinking a lot about the american commitment to democracy , where it comes from and how it might slip away. this got me thinking about when i was younger, when i had the privilege of witnessing the birth of a new democracy in africa. ands half the age i am now for my church mission i went to south africa and zimbabwe. i fell in love with the people. when cheryl and i were drawn ink years later, we were
february of 1990, when at the moment when much of the world of totalitarianism was throwing off its shackles and the free world united states had led since world war ii was growing, the soviet union was in a freefall, shedding republics by the day and eastern europe was squinting into the light of liberation for the first time in 40 years. free markets and free minds were sweeping the world. out in the breaking southern hemisphere. the country where i was sitting that morning was only days old. in november 1989, the same week -- berlin wall came down, had held its first election as an independent nation, free from south africa.
this had come to pass because of leadership from the united states, through the united nations. days earlier, a document had been drafted a few blocks away from where i sat, a new democracies founding constitution. the inspiration for which had been the marvel of free people and those who aspire to be free, the united states constitution. i was in africa working for the foundation of democracy trying to ensure the country emerged from the process is a democratic country. my role -- in my role i , theelized for democracy benefits of which have been a given for me for my life. i can say i learned 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 in a new african democracy, i read the speech the playwright a new president of had justzechoslovakia delivered before a joint session of the united states congress. just across the way. who had spent much of the previous decade and a communist dungeon, and whose last arrest had been months before, was astonished to find himself president of anything, much less the country of his oppressors. i sat in africa and read his , a love letter to america , literary and inspiring. i was overcome. there is nothing like a sensation of having someone who has been stripped of everything but his dignity reflecting the
ideals of your own country back that you such a way see them more clearly than ever before, maybe for the first time. that man knows your country better than you know it. i can only imagine how surreal must have felt for him as he stood before the congress, the president, his cabinet, diplomatic corps, staff , the vicebefore him president at speaker of the house behind him, all standing in aand, a deep respect from the oldest democracy in the world to the newest, whose leader has been a political prisoner season earlier. he poured out his gratitude to the united states for the sacrifice our country had made in liberating europe again and for the moral example of its
leadership around the globe in opposing the soviet union. the country he said that gave people nightmares. he gave appreciation to the values too many of us might take , the power of the american example to the world. the humbling responsibilities that come with that power, it is no exaggeration to say his degradation on democracy before congress was a turning point in my education. he caught up to the world from washington on that day with , but and without rancor for one mistake in prophecy, ,hat to me reads tragic especially in the context of the now. felle time, as the walls
in the soviet bloc, it was vogue among historians to declare the end of history, that the big questions had been settled, that liberal democracy was triumphant and an example and the decline of the impulse to enslave countries was in a durable. freedom had one --won. before -- theere year before, was much in demand. hear how can the united states of america help us? my reply is as paradoxical as my life has been. if you helped the soviet union on its complicated 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. after directing a village for democracy for an agonizing decades, the russians thrust forward a strong man amid the toos, a man determined reassemble the pieces of a broken umpire in a process strangling russian democracy. vladimir putin would go on to be president and he is president still and just as he hijacked democracy in his own country, he is discernment -- determined to do so everywhere. the denial of this reality will not make it less real. this is something staring us in the face as we gather today. as we america during this moment of political dysfunction and the contemplate the
conventions and norms of democracy, we must remind ourselves none of this is permanent, that it must be fought for. civilization and the victories of freedom, history itself are not a matter of once achieved, always safe. the lovers of democracy live this. our children, whose rights and prerogatives have never been in doubt are for the most part unaware but we are being reminded how delicate all of it is now. the stability of tested alliances and the consistency of words and deeds sum up the best war consensus on foreign policy. it might seem all of this has been tossed around like pieces on a board. it is important to remember we
have seen two months before lt before.t --tumu what struck with me that day is how vital a beacon of the 90 states is and has always been to the peoples of the world, both to those who are free and those who suffer in tierney. -- tyranny. let us recognize from this place that the shadow of tyranny is enveloping parts of the globe and let us recognize as ism reasserts itself, that we are by no means at the end. i recognize i have had the fortune to have been surrounded ,y smart and dedicated staff
some of whom have worked for me my entire 18 years in washington. haveiefs of staff supervised the legislative team that included people like kiefer,donnelly, chris sarah tolls, emily nelson, blake hammett -- chance hammett, james lane, andrea many, gary burnett and so others who drafted legislation and crafted consequential amendments that have been signed into law. my schedulers, office manager and press have been asked to explain a lot, including my
pension for ruining myself on deserted islands. people like senator martin heinrich were forced to explain why i have been chased by elephants with senator chris coons. people like celeste gold, megan , christine to greet, , jason chris kelly word --winisten when nward. they have kept me out of controversy is not out of elevators during my time in office. haveated case workers helped with matters of immigration to social security. airportslly stopped in
-- frequently stopped in airports and grocery stores and thanked for the good work done. thank you mike nelson, jeremy farnsworth, and so many others for dedicated constituent work. to all who have served in my office, i will miss your counsel but most of all your friendship. thank you. i would also like to say word of thanks to the institutional officers that serve the senate ably, the clerks, parliamentarians, floor staff, the pages, the sergeant in arms and the capitol police who keep us safe and at times on distant baseball fields. i owe my life to them.
thank you. mr. president as i give this last speech i cannot help but look to my maiden speech i gave six years ago. i talked about how 12 new senate freshmen were invited to the national archives and taken to the legislative vault where we viewed the signed copy of the bill enacted by congress, as well as other landmark pieces of legislation and memorabilia. witnessed by general washington, documents and artifacts, related to the civil war in segregation, women's suffrage and the civil .ights movement were on hand i noticed it was an affirmation to me of the tumultuous sees --seas our ship has sailed for more than 200 years with many inspired individuals at the helm
, along with personalities ranging from mediocre to that our system of government has survived them all. i noted then and i ago today seriously -- serious challenges lie ahead but by and we will note that we have confronted and survived more daunting challenges them we now face. hours is a durable and resilient system of government designed to withstand the foibles of those that sometimes occupy these halls including yours truly. chapter in thew coming weeks. for grateful, most of all, 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
mainly lose the last best hope -- arth, the way forward way which if followed the world will forever applaud and god will forever blessed. i yield the floor. [applause] mr. heller: mr. president, i rise today with gratitude to address my colleagues and members of my staff to reflect on one of my life's great honors, and that is serving the people of the state of nevada. i would like to thank them for allowing me to represent nevada in the united states congress for 12 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