John McCain, Senor Senator from Arizona, died approximately one year after being diagnosed with brain cancer. His passing was the death of an exceptionally worthy citizen; one modeled after the optimistic conceptions of our Founding Fathers, in their formulations of our democratic republic. He was an intelligent and independent thinker who, irrespective of party affiliation, put his own perception of the country’s welfare above considerations of party politics; inarguably, a singular trait in the contemporary political arena. In a television interview, which took place subsequent to the bleak diagnosis, he stated that he “wished to be remembered as a person who served his country.” This, he emphatically did, both in his military and civilian life, and indeed, will be so remembered.
In earlier posts, we have sadly lamented the disappointing demise of what we have termed “civic amity” between citizens who hold divergent political views. Rather than respecting the right of others to differ in opinion, and cordially engage in constructive debate, as intended and foreseen by our founders, many have banded together in separate, insular groups, socially professing identical opinions and mutually sharing a “loyal” antipathy toward other like groups, holding disparate views.
John McCain, by bright and admirable contrast, was an avatar of friendly and respectful recognition of points of view which differed from his own. Rather than attempting to disparage those whose view of policies or solutions to problems varied from his, he would, in good fellowship, attempt to win over the divergent party by appropriate debate in the halls of the Senate. Whether one agreed with him or not concerning specific issues he was sure that McCain’s mature and professional stand was always based upon his personal principles and his perception of rectitude; one not necessarily governed by the direction of his party’s leaders.
McCain’s independent analysis and spontaneous positions regarding issues coming to the Senate, in contrast with the customary, party line, group-think of his party, earned him the somewhat radical title of “maverick.” That reference to McCain was, in our view, an unintended, but accurate, admission of irresponsible “tribal” criteria, motivating the decision-making of other Senators of his party. In the context of contemporaneous politics, the title amounted to another deserved medal (among the many) awarded to the Senator; this Medal of Honor would be awarded for conspicuous exercise of individual judgment, in the face of general and self-serving irresponsibility on the part of others of his political party. He opposed the tactical and false “birther movement” and, typically, other matters he saw as unjust. Senator McCain demonstrated consistently exemplary performance as an elected legislator. It has been reported that, unlike most other elected politicians, he did not consult the polls before taking a position on a question. His motto was “straight talk,” the latter being more emblematic of whom he was, than the self- incriminating and politically revelatory, “maverick.”
The wisdom of the ancient Greek statement,” Character is destiny,” has been amply confirmed in the life of John McCain. The nation will miss you. Rest in peace.