McCain’s Service Of Honor Shapes Us All
A great example of serving with honor passed away this past Saturday. Senator John McCain died at the age of 81 after living a very full and active life, always serving his country.
Stephen Colinson of CNN notes Senator John McCain’s passing. He points out that the senator was a naval fighter pilot, prisoner of war, a proverbial giant in the U.S. Senate, and a two-time contender for the presidency of the United States.
McCain’s Sense Of Fairness In Service Was Resolute
John often claimed that he was a lucky man getting to serve the country he loved. McCain wrote in his memoir Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir, of this passion stating:
In prison, I fell in love with my country.
That may sound odd but he points out that these United States is not so much a place as it is an ideal. Suffering as he did as a prisoner of war for five and half years brought this sense of freedom home to him. It seemed to cement a sense of fairness in him that guided his thoughts and actions while in the political arena.
Against, probably, the advice of Republican strategists, Senator McCain impressed the public as he defended Obama, his opponent, while seeking the presidency. While making a political speech and taking questions, he pointed out that Obama deserved respect and that he was a good and decent man. (See the video: McCain defends Obama) Few politicians, especially today, can claim this kind of dignity and magnificent appreciation for how to respect others.
McCain Was As Complex As He Was Simple
There are many monikers regarding the senator. John was known as one who laughed easily, enjoyed a quick joke, and listened to others well. He was known as a maverickbecause he didn’t always go where others went. John was a war hero not because of dire imprisonment but because of his support for his fellow comrades. He was a hero to many on both sides of the congressional political aisle because he always served with honor.
John was also known to be humble. He was quick to admit when he was wrong and would apologize to those he felt he had wronged. Pride did not cripple him.
He was determined and steadfast. His friendships were long enduring.
John Was Appreciative
Reflecting on his own life, Senator McCain said:
“It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make peace. I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I’ve enjoyed the company of heroes. I’ve suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation.
“I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”
McCain Urged Others To Follow
Not only did Senator McCain exemplify how a politician should comport him or herself, he admonished his peers to serve better. In a speech of some urgency in July of 2017, he encouraged his fellow senators to set aside partisanship in order to serve better. USA Today published the full text of John McCain’s speech to the Senate in July of 2017. There you’ll read him saying:
“Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve 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. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.
“We’re getting nothing done.”
Senator McCain’s constituents were not simply Arizona republicans. All Arizona citizens were his constituents. More, all Americans were his constituents. And, as he engaged in any legislation, he always considered it long-term and far reaching consequences.
The spirit of working together and listening to others and the employment of civil discourse were hallmarks of Senator John McCain’s leadership and service. It was a badge of honor he wore well.
Guidance was provided for all of us in Senator McCain’s farewell statement:
We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.
Let’s do him honor and adhere to such wisdom.
McCain’s Sense Of Inclusiveness Is Needed In Our Elections
As we soon will begin to consider yet another presidential election in 2020, the need to consider the ballots of all voters (all constituents) will once again emerge. Equal Voice Voting is the most viable approach being offered today to make every vote count and every state matter.
The winner-takes-all approach (not a part of the Electoral College) is our common foe. With it in place, the validity of your vote will be dependent upon which state you call home. This travesty is not in keeping with our democracy and representative governance.
Let’s adopt a page of governance from Senator McCain’s book of leadership and be more inclusive as we vote. Let’s recognize that we, all of us, must reach across the aisle and listen to each other. We must encourage that every presidential ballot be counted regardless of political party.
If we can be so inclusive, perhaps we, too, in this small way can realize we’re serving America well. Perhaps we can claim we are voting with honor.