Yesterday, Senator John McCain of Arizona made a momentous decision for himself, his party and the future of the country. The 81-year-old senior senator decided to go against his party and one of his best friends in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, by deciding that he’s going to vote “no” on the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill. The bill was widely seen as the last, best chance at repealing the Affordable Care Act that was passed and signed by President Obama; and there was a belief among some (myself included that Senator McCain would vote yes) for Mr. Graham’s sake.
Here was the statement put out by Senator McCain on his decision to vote no. It says, in part: “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”
The reaction by people was vicious, cruel, unwarranted, and downright wrong. Callers on the radio here in Houston were howling that McCain should just turn in his GOP card and caucus with Democrats from now one. People on social media were hoping that the glioblastoma (a type of brain cancer Mr. McCain has) would kill him quickly. People were questioning his love of his country, and his place in it. Here, is John McCain’s place in history: the man has served in the Senate for thirty-one years, before that he spent four years in the Arizona House of Representatives, and before that he spent twenty-three years in the Navy. He’s been awarded the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Legion of Merit Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and others. The man’s plane was shot down during a bombing raid during the Vietnam War, both his arms broken as he ejected from the cockpit. He almost drowned during that incident, only to be pulled out by some North Vietnamese fighters who crushed his shoulder with the butt of a rifle, while others stabbed him with their bayonets. After that, he was taken as a POW for five and a half years, two of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was beaten constantly in an effort to give up information or to make anti-United States propaganda videos. Yet when he was given the opportunity to be released he refused to do so unless all of the other men who were also POWs were allowed to be set free as well. That’s what leadership looks like. That’s what a hero does.
No, yesterday didn’t change anything about the way anyone should think or feel about John McCain. He is and always has been a maverick, who doesn’t always vote down party lines. He’s a man of character and integrity, who voted based on his conscience. He is a man that more people in our government should strive to be like. Senator Graham holds no ill will towards his friend, saying the following: “My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is. I respectfully disagree with his position not to proceed forward on Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson.”
It doesn’t matter whether or not you agree or disagree with his decision yesterday, one thing should be painfully clear after taking a brief look into John McCain’s life; he is a hero and he always has been. He would have been a hero even if he decided to vote for Graham-Cassidy and he is now even though he’s not voting for it. The call of those who wish him dead soon is by the worst people our society has to offer, and who should be left to the devil that possesses them. Those whining that he’s a RINO, should be ignored for their ignorance that not every Republican need to vote the same way one hundred percent of the time. One thing though is beyond obvious though: and that is that when you live the life that John McCain has lived, nothing can or should take the title of being a hero away from you.