Jeff Flake says farewell to the senate

Thursday morning Senator Jeff Flake took the Senate floor to bid farewell to his fellow senators.

“I rise today to say that it has been the honor of my life to represent my home – Arizona – in the United States Senate, and before that, in the House of Representatives,” Flake said. “I am filled with gratitude. Grateful for the privilege of loving and being loved by those people I just mentioned, and of serving the state and the country that I love as well. Grateful beyond measure, and luckier than I deserve to be.”

Flake, who was born in Snowflake, Arizona, started his political career as a U.S. Representative from Arizona’s first district – which later changed to the sixth district – in 2000.

His time on Capitol Hill was marked by his longstanding opposition to parochial spending projects known as earmarks, which he believed led to profligate federal spending. Thanks to Flake’s doggedness, the practice was eliminated.

In 2012, Flake was elected to the U.S. Senate after Sen. Jon Kyl retired.

“I was pleased to support him as my successor to the United States Senate. He has his priorities right, faith, family and country. Not very many of us have the opportunity to serve from a town named after our own family and that’s how far Senator Flake’s roots go back in the state of Arizona,” Kyl said on the chamber floor following Flake’s farewell. “I want to salute my colleague Jeff Flake as a person, though as much as a public servant and senator. He embodies what’s right about the people of the United States of America.”

Prior to Flake’s time as an elected official, Flake received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in international relations and political science from Brigham Young University and then served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Africa.

According to him, his mission taught him most of what he knows about democracy.

“As the authoritarian impulse reasserts itself globally, and global commitment to democracy seems to now be on somewhat shaky ground, I have been thinking a lot recently about the American commitment to democracy – where it comes from, and how, if the circumstances were right, it might slip away. And this got me thinking back to when I was a much younger man and had the privilege of witnessing the birth of a new democracy in Africa. When I was about half the age that I am now, for my church mission, I went to South Africa and Zimbabwe and fell in love with the people of those countries. I can safely say, though, that I learned more about democracy from the lives of those around me who aspired to it, rather than those who experienced it as a birth-right.”

After returning to the United States, Flake served as the executive director of the Goldwater Institute.

Flake will be replaced by Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema on Jan. 3, 2019.

Flake ended his speech by saying, “As I start a new chapter in the coming weeks, I am grateful for having had the privilege of serving here. It is my sincere hope that those in this body will always remember the words of Lincoln: ‘We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.’ The way forward, he said, ‘is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God will forever bless.’ I yield the floor.”

Emily Richardson

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