John McCain: one of America’s greatest public servants


Photo courtesy of Flickr

Former Arizona Senator John McCain worked in government for 35 years and was a POW in Vietnam for over five years. McCain passed away on August 25 after a long battle with brain cancer.

Senator John McCain represented a dying breed of courtesy, statesmanship and cooperation in American politics. The quality of political discourse is at such an all-time low that one of America’s greatest public servants’ terminal illness didn’t give him a break from the verbal battlefield. President Trump has been a huge factor in killing McCain’s honorable breed of politics, which is discreetly shown in the way the President has treated McCain as of late.

It’s the long standing tradition that dying public figures receive a benefit of the doubt in a way; people highlight their accomplishments and celebrate their service to the country. Even President Richard Nixon who resigned disgracefully after the Watergate scandal, received respect and dignity in his final days. On the other hand McCain, who had been in public service for 36 years and was a POW in Vietnam for over five years, received an extremely unfortunate amount of harsh criticism in his final days.

To give you an idea today of how President Trump and his administration have broken this chain of respect, here’s a brief history of the President’s feud with Senator McCain. In 2015, Trump bombastically claimed that McCain was in fact not a hero for his actions in Vietnam. McCain endured over five years of torture, and never confessed any US intelligence to the enemy. President Trump, the self-proclaimed hero, unfortunately got a deferment from the draft because of “bone spurs” in his heels; he never got the chance to show how great of a patriot he really is. In May, White House official Kelly Sadler stated that the administration shouldn’t care about McCain’s position on what was the nominee for Director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, firstly because “it doesn’t matter anyway, he’s dying.” Most shockingly, the President rejected an official statement his aides drafted to praise McCain after his death. Trump stated that he preferred a brief tweet, which stated that he was sympathetic to the family and respects McCain. The President couldn’t bring himself to praise or make any sort of amends to an American war hero and very well-respected Senator.

In today’s political climate, where hurling insults to people who disagree with you is commonplace, McCain’s passing is of great significance. McCain’s style of respect, bipartisanship and humility; once normal in American politics, is now becoming an outlandish art form. Famously, in a CNN town hall debate during the 2008 presidential election campaign, a woman had a worry about Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The woman worried that Obama couldn’t be trusted because of his alleged Arab background. McCain promptly defended Obama, stating how he’s a great citizen, family man and American; they just disagree on some issues. In today’s world, this moment of unity exhibited by a Presidential candidate towards a political foe would truly surprise Americans.

Defending and even complimenting an opposing candidate would be considered insanity in the elections America has seen as of late, and most likely those in the near future. Candidates would lose support and be called weak. McCain represented a time, barely a decade ago, where politicians were labeled as honorable and trustworthy for defending fellow politicians from polarizing, untruthful tirades from the mouths of their base.

Placing respect and decency ahead of obtaining votes, a tried and true principle of our democracy, is going to waste at the hand of President Trump. For this reason, Americans like Senator McCain desperately need to be remembered and admired for their heroism, honesty and ability to work with fellow Americans. If America loses touch with these values, who knows what’s next.