Lamar Alexander spoke with the Tennessean on Dec 17, 2018 Nashville Tennessean

Opinion: Vanderbilt historian Joel Harrington outlines Lamar Alexander's long service to the country and Tennessee, and urges him to step forward onto his final stage.

Dear Senator Alexander,
I write to you as a fellow American, a fellow Tennessean and a fellow member of the Vanderbilt family, with gratitude for your many years of faithful service to our country and to our state. 
You have proven yourself a man of intelligence and of conscience in performing that service, and upon your retirement from the Senate next year you will receive many accolades justly recognizing and celebrating your diverse achievements.
But I also write to you with considerable sadness, as I fear that your current silence has put that legacy in jeopardy. 
For the past three years, we have been witnessing the most morally bankrupt presidential administration in the history of our country (and I write as a professional historian). Yet you have steadfastly refused to publicly comment on, let alone criticize, any of this president’s most offensive and corrosive words and actions.
As a fellow student of history, you know how hard-won reputations can be forever tainted or even irreparably damaged by moments of inaction in the face of national crisis. Perhaps you act as one of those genuine patriots who believe it essential to keep a seat at the table so as to mitigate reckless or unethical behavior. 
But, sir, the effects of such moderating influences have clearly been negligible and the time for such hopeful appeasement has passed. The divides within our country continue to be exacerbated and exploited by the current president purely for personal gain.
When I was a high school student learning typing, the first sentence we practiced was “now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”  Senator, I choose to believe that you are one of the good men who is willing to stand up because now is the time that we need you. 
Please speak up for common decency and against this president’s abuse of our fellow Americans and his imperilment of our country’s civic culture.  Your legacy, likewise imperiled, demands you to display the political courage which has otherwise been your hallmark. 
You have the choice to be remembered as one of this republic’s fiercest defenders or as a tacit enabler of the most toxic chief executive in its history.  Please come to the aid of your country, before it is too late.
Joel F. Harrington is Centennial Professor of History and past chair of the department at Vanderbilt University.