The Weddington Witness

Losing an American Hero

Photo taken by Gage Skidmore

Photo taken by Gage Skidmore

Photo taken by Gage Skidmore

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John McCain, maverick, war hero, senator, presidential candidate, husband, and father passed away Sunday evening at the age of 81. The tragic news comes after his family announced that McCain had halted treatment for the cancer he had been fighting for over a year.

No person embodied the phrase “American Hero” better than John McCain. During the Vietnam War, he was shot down and taken prisoner of war for over five years. His time as a POW left him with injuries he would keep for the rest of his life. After finally returning home, McCain represented Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives, and later in the Senate. He sought out the presidency in 2008, losing to political newcomer Barack Obama. John McCain went against his advisers, refusing to attack his opponent on the basis’ of race and ethnicity. At one point in the campaign, a woman suggested that Obama couldn’t be trusted because he was “an Arab”. McCain, adhering to a clean race his family could be proud of, responded: “[Obama is] a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” Before McCain’s death, he requested that Barack Obama, alongside George W. Bush, give a eulogy at his funeral.

Another idea John McCain was known for embracing was bipartisanship. Shortly after his diagnosis, McCain gave a speech warning his republican colleagues that “(The Senate has) been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.” In the political community, people like John McCain were often described with the word ‘maverick’. This means that they aren’t afraid to clash with their political party’s policies if it means doing what they believe is right*. Many politicians choose to stick to their party’s values strictly, in order to avoid controversy and keep themselves in office. McCain was a man who wasn’t afraid to put his career on the line when his beliefs conflicted with popular republican stances. John McCain put his country before his party, and that’s an idea voters will sorely miss.

It seems today that all our lawmakers desire is more time in office. Seldom do we ever see senators and representatives vote against the party they support. Republicans side with the President on every issue, attempting to stay in his good graces. Democrats shoot down every republican bill to “resist” Trump’s growing influence. McCain never hugged party lines to stay in power. He made the tough calls that had to be made, even if he lost a few votes, for the greater good. In one of his last visits to capitol hill, John McCain was the deciding vote in the Republican effort to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as ‘Obamacare’. Republican heavyweights like Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lobbied McCain for his support in one of the current administration’s top legislative priorities. In a dramatic and highly symbolic move, after days of debate on the Senate floor, McCain gave a thumbs down: ‘Obamacare’ would stay. This move was inspired by more than just his opinion on the current state of healthcare, as McCain hoped both parties could work together in finding a new solution all Americans could get behind.

Why was McCain such a fantastic public servant? Why am I so sad to see him go? He was a man all Americans could get behind.

*During his 2008 presidential race, McCain strongly considered Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Lieberman, a democrat, conflicted with McCain on many key issues, including abortion rights. McCain believed that a two party ticket would help heal American divides and restore trust in public office.

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