The legacy of John McCain
5 mins read

The legacy of John McCain

In the last year or so, I’ve decided to take a break from politics.

I’ve written several articles that addressed politics in some way. My hope was to offer a point of view that either hadn’t been considered before or reinforce one that I believed to be correct. I further hoped to change some minds or at least start a healthy conversation. To my great dismay, none of these happened.

Comment sections on my articles were less than polite, even a degree a host ility could be felt from time to time. I know for the most part these were just trolls being trolls, but I didn’t need that in my life. With all that being, with the death of John McCain, I feel the need to enter the colosseum one more time.

Before I came to USD, I spent nine months working in the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. During my time there, I had the chance encounter to actually meet John McCain. Of all the Senators I had met, he was by far the most pleasant. We talked about my hometown, Sturgis, a place where he visited during the 2008 Presidential race. We laughed and chuckled, and I could tell I was annoying the reporters standing close by waiting to get a comment from the famous Senator. At the very end I was able to snap a selfie with the man himself. When he passed away late Saturday, I was overcome with sadness.

If there a figure who I think should guide us into the future, it’s McCain. He’s famous for a moment in 2008, when a woman expressed concern about Barack Obama because she heard he was an Arab, he immediately shook his head and said, “He’s a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.” It’s sad to think how things have changed.

We need more McCain and less… well, everything else.

He was known as the Maverick, someone who did things their own way, who thought for themselves. Everyone, not just politicians, should strive to be their own Maverick. There are several events that made McCain known for his political courage. Perhaps the 2008 event is the most salient, but the list goes on.

He voted against the repeal of Obamacare in 2017. While I have my feelings on Obamacare, this moment was a great show of character– a politician shirking the endless party pressure to do something he believed was wrong. True, McCain didn’t like Obamacare, but the way republicans went about the repeal was less than comforting.

If I’m being completely honest, these last few years have made me lose faith in our system.

It isn’t just Trump, it isn’t just democrats or liberals. I find both at fault for our current situations. Republicans appear to be Trump cheerleaders, unwilling to stand up for principles they once stood by. Liberals and democrats seem to be just anti-Trump. Both revolve around Trump, not what is best for the country.

Before he died, McCain wrote a farewell statement. As I said, I’ve lost a fair amount of faith. But his statement has renewed a small flame of hope.

He writes: “Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

It may be because I met the man. It may be because he actually was a figure in my life. But his legacy gives me reason, and hopefully all of us, to continue to fight for what I believe in. I doubt I would have written this article had another public servant died. It would have been much easier to stay silent. But John McCain gave me a reason to speak my mind.

So here it is: we need more McCains, not in policy per se, but in principles. We need the courage to stand up and do what we believe to be right, perhaps most importantly when it’s against our friends and allies. I hope that his legacy will inspire young leaders to follow his example, one of principles, not of pragmatism. Dare I say even our current leaders might find a change of heart. In any case, rest in peace John McCain. You already are missed.