72 Days Until Election Day
Tomorrow, I will return to writing about a Senate race, but today is a day to take a pause and reflect upon the life and legacy of a Senator, who was also an American Hero, in every sense of the word.
The family, friends, and colleagues of John McCain have issued glowing tributes in the past 20 hours or so since the news of his passing came forward. I do not know what I can really say to properly add their eloquent words, but it is worth a shot. The senior Senator from Arizona lost his battle with cancer just days before his 82nd birthday, but it feels like we have lost more than a man, or a lawmaker, or a prominent member of a political party. The times we live in require us to devote ourselves to his example and to the realization of what we should be and what our country and world could be.
Nobody ever said John McCain was a perfect man, least alone himself. He had a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to acknowledge and want acknowledged his failings, unlike anybody else in modern politics. He made mistakes in his private and public life and had some personality traits that at times were less than stellar, and he still wanted all that to be part of his story. What a contrast to today’s “leaders” , one in particular, who believes he is perfection personified.
Just about anyone who cares about issues will have found reason to disagree with a vote Senator McCain cast or a position he took. While I admired him from when I was quite young, both times he ran for President, I supported another candidate in the primary. When he was nominated in 2008, I was very proud to vote for him, but not without disappointment with some aspects of his campaign and some doubts about what kind of President he would have been on a day to day basis. There would never be any doubt though that John McCain had served his country like few ever had and loved it with all his heart. Through all his imperfections, he put “Country First”, and in victory and defeat always kept the perspective of how lucky he was to be born an American and how grateful he was for the opportunity to return home, and appreciate his country even more, after years imprisoned in another.
The books that Senator McCain, wrote together with his longtime collaborator Mark Salter, speak vividly to his experiences, especially “Faith of My Fathers.” What he suffered, physically and mentally, in the service of his country, cannot be understated, and of course he passed up the opportunity for early release, before the prisoners taken before him were freed, because to do otherwise would violate his sense of honor. For that, he suffered far more at the hands of his captors.
John McCain returned to America, changed forever physically, but more devoted than ever to the concept of public service. After leaving the United States Navy, he entered the world of electoral politics, where his biography and reputation helped him to never lose a general election and come as close to the ultimate seat in power, as few others have. He could have walked away after his Presidential loss, but felt like he had more to give. He was almost never afraid to speak his mind, criticizing oft allies and political rivals alike, but always still willing to put aside differences and to work with them….