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The Death of John McCain

August 30, 2018
Emmetsburg News

"I've often observed that I am the luckiest person on Earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I've loved my life, all of it."

This is an excerpt from John McCain's last speech, penned shortly before his death.

Senator McCain will be remembered for many things. He was held six years prisoner and tortured at the notorious Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. He was a six-term senator for Arizona. He ran for president in 2008.

I will remember McCain as the antithesis of Donald Trump. I will remember McCain as an unshakeable force in U.S. politics. But mostly I will remember McCain as a species of public servant that is becoming extinct.

John McCain placed his country before his politics. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell places the Republican Party before all else. McCain was not afraid to call out his peers, this president and anyone else he believed was not working for the betterment of the American people. McConnell invokes the phrase "American people" so often and so disingenuously the words fall rank from his lips. I will grant McConnell this: he is the consummate politician.

Senator John McCain gave his life for this country. The Vietcong could not kill him, and he simply refused to allow this president or his party's mindless minions to kill off his independence and his singleness of purpose serving this country.

Service is lost on today's politicians. The men and women who serve as Congressmembers and Senators do not serve us; rather, they are indentured servants. They are bought and sold by political action committees. They fear going against party dogma lest they become political exiles. They are not forged in the mold that produced McCain. Thankfully, Iowa boasts two exceptions: Chuck Grassley and David Johnson.

The death of John McCain casts into frightful contrast the life of Donald Trump. John McCain was a true American. By which I mean, he loved this country. He fought for this country during wartime and during peace. He was volatile, stubborn and hotheaded. But he was also a selfless human being who did not waiver in his convictions. I did not agree with McCain on many issues, but I respected him for his beliefs.

Donald Trump is un-American because he places himself before the welfare of this country. He is a petty, megalomaniac whose policies and behavior are harming this nation. Donald Trump is un-American because he is incapable of selflessness. Donald Trump does not understand that to lead, a president must be humble. To govern, a president must be just. To care, a president must sacrifice. John McCain was all of these; Donald Trump is none.

I fear for this country because men like Donald Trump, Paul Manfort, Steve Bannon and Michael Cohen believe everything is for sale. They believe rules do not apply to them. They believe the American people do not deserve the absolute finest from their president and the people around him.

These men believe it is okay to lie, to cheat, to bully, to defame and to operate in a haze where ethics are malleable and integrity has a pricetag.

I fear for this country because it has stopped producing public servants like John McCain. I fear for this country because the American people are not rising up in rebellion over this fact.

Goodbye, Senator McCain. Goodbye, true American.



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