Jeff Flake's clarion call: Republicans must hold Trump accountable

To a packed room Tuesday, Senator Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeThe Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force Flake asks Daily Show where he can get a blanket emblazoned with his 'meaningless tweets' MORE (R-Ariz.) delivered a historic speech on the Senate Floor that will shape the upcoming election cycle.

With Congressional colleagues looking on, Flake announced his retirement from Congress at the end of his term. While Flake’s retirement was a surprise to many, it was what Flake said pursuant to his retirement announcement that ignited a firestorm on social media and cable news networks alike. In no uncertain terms, Senator Flake delivered fervent condemnation of President Trump and his administration that has lit a match which is guaranteed to disrupt the political landscape for months to come.

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In just under six minutes, the Congressman from Arizona delivered the speech that every self-respecting Republican should give. As if using terms such as “dangerous,”, “reckless,” and “undignified” as descriptors for a sitting U.S. president were not enough, Flake sealed his envelope of condemnation with eleven words that are destined to be the battle cry for the 2018 midterms:

“Unquestionable support and loyalty to our president are unpatriotic and servile.”

With this statement, Flake, a sitting Republican lawmaker put the president and Republican Party on notice that the time for complacent and unwavering politics has come to an end. Such direct language from a member of the Republican party directed at the president is exactly what is missing from the political discourse of today. What our country has experienced under the presidency of Donald J. Trump is not normal, yet Republicans have worked in overdrive to not only normalize his behavior but have also declined to hold the 45th president accountable of wrong-doing.

For those of us keeping notes, our country has witnessed the president attack a gold star family (both during the campaign trail and off the trail), disavow the free press when the media coverage is not in his favor, berate numerous members of Congress, and countless other transgressions never seen from the highest office in the land.

As a nation, what makes our republic great is our ability to agree or disagree with our elected officials without repercussion. However, under the Trump administration, anything that has contradicted their belief has been labeled fake and demonized without impunity. This is not normal and Senators Jeff Flake, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainKevin McLaughlin tapped to serve as NRSC executive director for 2020 Kasich on death of 7-year-old in Border Patrol custody: 'Shame on Congress' Arizona governor eyes several possible Kyl replacements MORE (R-Ariz.), and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerThe Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end The Hill's Morning Report — Trump maintains his innocence amid mounting controversies Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force MORE (R-Tenn.) have had enough.

Republicans can no longer sit around idly while watching a member of their own party take our country in a downward spiral. Republicans must speak up against acts that not only harm the American people but harm the very fiber in our democracy that soldiers have lost their lives fighting to protect. Our country is better than this and we must send a clear message to the residents at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that we have had enough.

Under Trump, the United States has become more divisive than ever and along the way, a narrative has been created that in order to be a conservative, you have to be angry and anti-Left. While Democrats and Republicans have different viewpoints on how we want to go about changing policy, it is ludicrous to believe that an undying hatred must also follow. However, it is difficult to consider bipartisan camaraderie feasible when you have the leader of the Republican party calling Democrats “losers” and “clowns.” Republicans can no longer be complacent while our government is in peril. Ask yourself this, would Republicans accept the same behavior from Democrats? If the shoe were on the other foot? If the answer is no, then Republicans are obligated to put politics aside and led with the principle and integrity afforded to an elected official.

The political price for honesty is steep, but the loss of self-respect and honor is even steeper. If Republicans have any chance at salvaging the reputation of their party, unquestionable support and loyalty to the president can no longer be a part of the GOP playbook. Republicans are faced with two choices, hold the leader of their party accountable, or walk the halls of Capitol Hill blindfolded. Whatever decision lay ahead for the Republican party, one thing is certain: History never forgets and neither does the American electorate.

Wendy Osefo, Ph.D., is a political commentator, Democratic strategist, and professor. She is the former director of Family and Community Engagement for the Obama administration's Anti-poverty Initiative, DC Promise Neighborhood (DCPNI). Wendy regularly appears on Fox News and TV One as a political analyst. Follow her on Twitter @WendyOsefo.