With the passing of Sen. John McCain, our nation is mourning the loss of a war hero and patriot who served in public office for more than three decades. Reports are filled with stories of his heroism and his political record. Whether you agree with his votes or party affiliation or not, any reflection on his legacy must highlight his candor.
When Republicans and Democrats faced off over the repeal of President Obama’s health care law, the Senate Republicans needed just one more vote to pass. Long-time Republican McCain stood in front of the Senate and presented a thumbs-down no-vote, which not only shocked his fellow Republicans, but ended the chance for repeal and ruined one of Trump’s top agenda items. What’s most notable about his no-vote isn’t because he didn’t support repeal. In fact, he did. He could not support this repeal because it had not gone through “regular order,” the process by which new legislation is presented through hearings for mark-up and budget considerations. McCain was adamantly against the undisclosed information and secretive, dishonest process.
Defending Obama & Facing Trump
When confronted by a woman at a Minnesota town hall event who criticized then-candidate Barack Obama as an Arab and therefore non-American, Sen. McCain defended President Obama as “a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues…” McCain had the clarity to understand that despite differing opinions, we are all still humans and deserve respect and the truth. Further, McCain refused to engage in President Trump’s attack on his character. Simply put, McCain noted he’s faced “tougher adversaries.” McCain stayed focused on what he deemed important and relevant.
Straight Talk Express
During the 2000 election season, McCain attempted a fresh approach to campaigning – The Straight Talk Express bus tour, which stopped at town hall meetings throughout New Hampshire and encouraged open dialogue with voters. Unscripted, sometimes awkward and often amusing, the bus tour was seen as refreshing and helped constituents see the authentic and candid side of McCain.
While environmental concerns like conservation and climate change tend to be on the liberal agenda, McCain had great admiration and concern for the environment and was not afraid to stand up for his beliefs. He traveled with fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins (ME) to both the Arctic Circle and Antarctica to learn more about climate change and how it is affecting our world.
Flawed, yet Frank
Sen. McCain was not perfect; he admitted his mistakes and found humor in poking fun at himself. Following his cancer diagnosis, he delivered an impassioned speech to his colleagues asking them to ditch the severe partisanship that has caused the standstill on Capitol Hill. Perhaps if more politicians followed his example by demanding open information, finding respect even for those with whom we disagree, and standing by our principles regardless of which party line they cross, we would find ourselves with a much more forward-thinking, stable, and healthy nation.