I have read in the New York Times today (5 May 2018) that Senator John McCain has been receiving personal and professional friends at his home in Arizona. While the newspaper mentions that the visits were an opportunity for nostalgic recollections of political battles, minus the acrimony common today, it appears clear that the Senator may not be long for this world.
I’ve never met Senator McCain, but know of his senatorial and military career. In all honesty, I’ve come to think lowly of our politicians on the State and Federal level. After 31 years of trying to convince teenagers that our nation is worth all our attention and efforts, I struggle to keep our politicians from undermining my efforts. But, Senator McCain has earned my respect by his actions. My respect for him requires that I make this minor gesture on my small plot of the Internet.
Senator McCain is a flawed person, as we all are. He has made mistakes in his personal and professional life, as we all are apt to do. Therefore, I don’t praise the man for his faults. I have plenty of them myself. Instead, I applaud the man for what he has done despite those flaws.
Exhibit #1: He has refused to play the political game of “Party Politics” that wreaks of elitism and cronyism. In doing so he has earned the ire of Republican Party bosses for most of his career. The wisdom of our founding fathers placed the power to select our representatives in the hands of the People. The good people of the great State of Arizona knew better than party bosses.
Exhibit #2: He refuses to endorse policies that run counter to his longstanding ethics even if doing so diminishes his political lustre. He has stated his position loudly and clearly to his constituents and the nation. His repeated re-elections is because of these positions and his constituents know clearly where he stands. To his credit, he has remained true as consistently as anyone could possibly be in that occupation. Today, this tenacity is not an asset.
Exhibit #3: Most importantly for me, he refused the preferential treatment that his family name engendered and chose to remain a captive in a notorious Vietnamese prison. I’m a veteran myself, but never had to make the sacrifice he did. My father and brother preceded me and I’m glad they were spared as well. I cannot say that I would’ve had the fortitude Senator McCain did if I was in his shoes in Vietnam.
I’m not a registered Republican, I’m not a Christian, and I’m not a resident of Arizona. I’m a private citizen making a simple statement: Senator John McCain is an American patriot by any meaningful measure. He has gone beyond what most citizens have or care to do. His patriotic service is all the more incredible because of his faults. If he was a ‘saint’, lacking the character blemishes that plagues everyone, his contributions would be underwhelming. Instead, he became an example of how we can exceed our limitations and make amends for lapses in judgment. He has done so to the extent that we can continue dreaming that our unique experiment in governance continues for future generations to perfect.
Senator John McCain, on behalf of my students, family and myself, thank you for your service- from one Citizen/ Veteran to another. May divine providence grant you and your family peace and tranquility.