Friday, July 28, 2017

John McCain: Profile in Courage

"I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us."

"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."

"What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We're not getting much done apart. I don't think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn't the most inspiring work. There's greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don't require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people."

Above are three excerpts from John McCain's impassioned speech to the United States Senate on
Tuesday, July 25, 2017.  McCain's speech was a much-needed plea for civility and decency in American politics.  His was a welcome voice in the terrible Age of Trump.  This 80-year-old man, recently diagnosed with brain cancer, stood before the American people and renounced the polarizing politics of President Donald J. Trump.

Then, in the early hours of Friday, July 28, 2017, McCain and two female Republicans senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, combined to defeat a pared-down bill to repeal the Affordable Health Act, commonly known as Obamacare.  They rebelled at the way this so-called "skinny repeal" bill was being rammed down the throats of Americans with little consultation and bipartisan input..  They refused to succumb to threats and bullying.  As, a result, much to the disappointment and consternation of Tea Party Republicans, the bill was defeated by a vote of 49-51. It was a dramatic moment and a crushing defeat for Donald Trump and his politics of intimidation.

John McCain is a conservative American and I am a Canadian of mostly liberal persuasion.  I was pleased when Barack Obama defeated him for the presidency of the United States in 2008.  However, Senator McCain did something heroic and courageous on July 28 and I admire him for it.  Unlike some spineless Republicans, he did not put partisan politics about the national good.

McCain, a naval aviator, was shot down during the Vietnam War.  He was a prisoner of war and held captive for five years in Hanoi.  He refused early release despite being beaten repeatedly.  Yet Donald Trump had the unmitigated gall to say, "He's not a war hero.  He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."

Even the most vocal opponents of the war in Vietnam can see that John McCain has the courage of his convictions.  This is a man who endured five years of torture as a POW.  No wonder he refused to be bullied by the likes of Donald Trump.  Toward the end of his speech, McCain turned to criticize Trump.  He declared that the Senate was not to bow down to a  Republican president. “Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president's subordinates. We are his equal,” he said. Alluding to to Trump’s campaign mantra, he said, “We don't hide behind walls. We bridge them.”

Obamacare may be flawed, but it is far superior to the bill cobbled together by a group of wealthy white GOP males.  It's time that Republican work together to improve Obamacare, not repeal and replace it.  The repeal of Obamacare would mean that millions of Americans, especially the poor, elderly and vulnerable, would lose their health care coverage.  No one should have to choose between putting  food on the table and paying medical medical bills.

Now that many Americans have enjoyed the benefits of public health coverage, they will not let it slip away easily.  They will not be intimidated.  Most Canadians, including myself, treasure our public health care coverage.  We would never willingly relinquish our government health insurance cards.

- Joanne