The passing of Senator John McCain paints a symbolic and dramatic shift in our attitude towards public service. The style of politics his legacy represents had become faded in his decades of services with more petty arguments arising between rivals in the chamber. McCain’s attitude within the Senate doors was to pass his he presence he held in the Senate served as a constant reminder of the importance civility holds outside the chamber doors.
McCain showed how friendship and humor can help ease the mind of a public servant who was constantly making decisions that impacted lives across a nation. His motives were pure even when his policies were misguided.
Former Vice President Biden eulogized McCain last Thursday as they shared 22 years together in the Senate. He touched on McCain’s push for bipartisanship, work ethic, and positive attitude that rubbed off on others.
“At those times [the mid 1990’s] it was always appropriate to challenge another Senator’s judgment, but never appropriate to challenge their motive,” said Biden. John strived to hold “regular order” in the Senate.
McCain was a big preacher of bipartisanship. In an interview with Conan back in 2009 McCain expressed the importance of bipartisanship by touching on his relationship with college and friend Ted Kennedy, who passed weeks before that interview.
Former President Obama delivered a similar message, shaming the “insult and phony controversies” often inserted into political life.
“So much of … our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage,” said Obama.
McCain never cared for the insults of character, best shown when he defended Obama as a “decent person” when toning down hateful and racist rhetoric prompted by his supporters at town halls.
“It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy.” – John McCain
McCain was never shy to share his regrets as a U.S. Senator. His first term began with the Keating Five Scandal and later in his career admitted his mistake for supporting the Iraq War. His deep passion for anti-torture policies resonated with his experience as a POW. During the Bush administration, McCain pushed back against the president’s policy on torture. Gambling on
McCain’s final portrait is blurry. His political legacy messy, intertwined with political courage and partisan disobedience. Regardless of policy he left a mark on our politics that is here to stay.