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On December 11th 2014, Senator Tom Coburn gave an emotional farewell address on the Senate floor. In his speech, Coburn reflected on his time as a congressman, explained his worldview, gave advice to colleagues and gave thanks to those that helped and supported him.
Coburn, a three term Representative, was elected to the Senate in 2004 and then re-elected in 2010. However, at the beginning of 2014, he announced he would be retiring at the end of the year. His farewell address on Thursday would be his last speech on the Senate floor.
The speech started off with a sentimental thank you list to many of his staff members. Occasionally unable to hold back his emotion, Coburn thanked his staff members and his chief of staff saying, “We’re only able to function because of all the people who enable us to do it.”
He then began to reflect on his time in Congress. “To those of you, through the years, who I have offended,” Corburn said, “I truly apologize.” He mentioned that no offense was intended; it was merely the result of his worldview that placed liberty and the constitution above all else.
“I believe our founders were absolutely brilliant. Far smarter than us,” Coburn explained. He said we would not begin to solve our country’s problems until we once again accept the instruction of the constitution and restore individual liberty to everyone. “But I don’t believe we can if we continue to ignore the wisdom of our founding documents,” said Coburn.
Today, the state of the country is in bad shape, according to Coburn. He said the struggling economy and loss of freedom has created a country that his father would not recognize. Corburn attributes these problems to a centralized government that is too involved in decision-making instead of leaving it to the power of the free market.
He stops short of blaming his colleagues of opposition though when he said their intentions were not bad. “The intentions are great. The motivations of the people in this body are wonderful. But the perspective of how we do it, and what the long-term consequences of how we do it really do matter,” said Coburn. These intentions don’t prevent unintended consequences, however.
To prevent the occurrence of these unintended consequences, Coburn stands by specific principles. When reading legislation, Coburn determines if it may negatively impact life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He then makes sure the bill is consistent with the oath congressmen take when sworn into office.
While giving words of advice to his colleagues, the Senator took the time to read the oath in full. “Your state is not mentioned one time in that oath,” Coburn said to his fellow Senators. He told them their goal was to defend liberty and the constitution, not to pursue benefits for your individual state.
At the closing of his speech, Coburn began giving thanks again. He thanked his family for their sacrifice and he thanked his staff. He then gave thanks to his fellow Senators, who he said were “working for a better country for us all.” The Senator then yielded the floor to a standing ovation.