Sunday, August 26, 2018

John McCain Forever

72 Days Until Election Day

Tomorrow, I will return to writing about a Senate race, but today is a day to take a pause and reflect upon the life and legacy of a Senator, who was also an American Hero, in every sense of the word.

The family, friends, and colleagues of John McCain have issued glowing tributes in the past 20 hours or so since the news of his passing came forward. I do not know what I can really say to properly add their eloquent words, but it is worth a shot. The senior Senator from Arizona lost his battle with cancer just days before his 82nd birthday, but it feels like we have lost more than a man, or a lawmaker, or a prominent member of a political party. The times we live in require us to devote ourselves to his example and to the realization of what we should be and what our country and world could be.

Nobody ever said John McCain was a perfect man, least alone himself. He had a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to acknowledge and want acknowledged his failings, unlike anybody else in modern politics. He made mistakes in his private and public life and had some personality traits that at times were less than stellar, and he still wanted all that to be part of his story. What a contrast to today's "leaders" , one in particular, who believes he is perfection personified.

Just about anyone who cares about issues will have found reason to disagree with a vote Senator McCain cast or a position he took. While I admired him from when I was quite young, both times he ran for President, I supported another candidate in the primary. When he was nominated in 2008, I was very proud to vote for him, but not without disappointment with some aspects of his campaign and some doubts about what kind of President he would have been on a day to day basis. There would never be any doubt though that John McCain had served his country like few ever had and loved it with all his heart. Through all his imperfections, he put "Country First", and in victory and defeat always kept the perspective of how lucky he was to be born an American and how grateful he was for the opportunity to return home, and appreciate his country even more, after years imprisoned in another.

The books that Senator McCain, wrote together with his longtime collaborator Mark Salter, speak vividly to his experiences, especially "Faith of My Fathers." What he suffered, physically and mentally, in the service of his country, cannot be understated, and of course he passed up the opportunity for early release, before the prisoners taken before him were freed, because to do otherwise would violate his sense of honor. For that, he suffered far more at the hands of his captors.

John McCain returned to America, changed forever physically, but more devoted than ever to the concept of public service. After leaving the United States Navy, he entered the world of electoral politics, where his biography and reputation helped him to never lose a general election and come as close to the ultimate seat in power, as few others have. He could have walked away after his Presidential loss, but felt like he had more to give. He was almost never afraid to speak his mind, criticizing oft allies and political rivals alike, but always still willing to put aside differences and to work with them.

Over the years, Senator McCain, his famous temper well documented, crossed swords with many in the world of politics and made his fair share of critics. The far left, the far right, and as he might say , "libertarians and vegetarians", all found a reason to denounce him or find him lacking. Over the past year, and in the most immediate hours, some of the voices on the left who unfairly attacked him and his intentions during the brief season when he was the standard-bearer of the GOP, now praise him immensely. While they will point to his principled defense of Barack Obama against a ridiculous accusation made by McCain supporter at a 2008 Town Hall or his dramatic vote against a specific effort to repeal Obamacare, the life and career of John McCain was far more, and deep down they know that he has always been a hero and a man of principle, even when they would have found genuine reason to disagree with him. I feel the same way.

Somebody who made enemies of so many of the particular people he did, on both sides of the political debate, must have been doing something right all these years, but that is not what we should be thinking about now. The future and direction of the Republican Party will continue to be fought over in the months and years ahead, but that is not what this is about either. This is about America. This is about standing for causes greater than our own self-interest, as McCain always called upon us to do. This means standing up to any voice that would divide us, be it on the far-left or the alt-right. this is about standing up for freedom and liberty, everywhere in America, and everywhere around the world. This means not quitting, as he refused to see the U.S. quit in Iraq, when things look bleak, or merely to save political face.

The times we live in politically are perilous. Tribalism is running rampant as perhaps never before. Without John McCain in public life, even via Twitter, the task of fulfilling his legacy will fall to others. That will include politicians and candidates, but also regular activists and citizens. Nobody has to agree on every issue but we can all honor John McCain by putting Country First, regardless of the political or personal price.

As widely known, John McCain as a boy fell in love with the Ernest Hemingway novel, "For Whom the Bells Tolls" and immediately identified with the antagonist. He lived his entire life that way. The character stated, "the world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it."

The bells have now tolled for John McCain and despite his wishes, he has left this world, but I believe he was comforted by the knowledge that those who remain will find it within themselves to fight on for what is worthy. To celebrate what is good and to oppose what is bad. All Americans need to remember this, and especially all members of the Republican Party, before it might become too late.

In this endeavor, it is not enough to merely fight to "own the liberals", or to to be "Never Trump", but always to fight to honor the America that John Sidney McCain III served honorably for 60 years. It is always about America and the hope that "the last best hope of Earth" is Forever McCain.


At 8:18 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...



Post a Comment

<< Home