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John McCain’s Last Vote

I cannot help but wonder if last night’s vote (or I guess this morning) was the last one Senator McCain will cast in the United States Senate. Certainly, I hope that the senior senator from Arizona not only survives the treatment but that he returns to work in Washington, however, glioblastoma is evil and it does not treat war heroes any differently than noncombatants. Similarly, Senator Mazie Hirono from Hawaii is battling stage 4 kidney cancer which has obviously metastasized to the bone and yet she too was on hand for the health care vote last night. Both Senators are needed and I hope that they each have successful recoveries.

I did not vote for McCain in 2008. The Republican platform makes it easy for me because I disagree with almost everything in it. Add to it his VP pick and of course, the Democratic nominee and well, it was a no brainer. But last night, he did something for me that I desperately needed. For the last 8 years at least, Washington DC has been polarized and while non-partisanship exists, it is actually punished by donors. Therefore, it is kept under wraps.

John McCain represents the august and noble body of the Senate. He represents why most people – and honestly – why most people in the well of the Senate last night – got into politics. Public service. Patriotism. The belief that they have something to give back. Yes, ego weighs in; of course, it does. But for most people, it’s not about power and position. It is about service; service to a country that frequently falls short of its ideals but one that strives to do better.

McCain knew it was a bad bill. But all the Republicans knew it was a bad bill. I think McCain voted no for another reason. I have absolutely no insight into his thought process and have never spoken to the man. Perhaps my speculation is entirely wishful thinking.

I think McCain realized that the political forces at play today – specifically, that the over powering need by the President, the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader, to get a “win” would ultimately lead to a bill emerging from conference that could easily be worse than doing nothing. Even scarier, the ‘skinny bill’ could get passed via the House and become law. So in short: I think McCain voted ‘no’ because he did not trust the leaders of his party.

And while I take great issue with Mitch McConnell’s actions and tactics and Paul Ryan’s pathetic leadership abilities, I understand and sympathize with where their heads were last night. After seven years of promising repeal and months of constant brinkmanship and strategic moves, they were unable to stop, assess and ask, “What are we trying to solve? Is this the right problem?” Moreover, they did not want to. I think McCain knew this and knew that in desperation, GOP leadership combined with this empty shell of a President would pass a bill that would literally destroy the private insurance markets.

In voting no, McCain served the public good. Senators Collins and Murkowski did too. I am sure that the conservative media and defenders of the President are ripping him to shreds, indicating that he voted ‘no’ out of ego or a desire to have a “last stand.” They will say that this was retaliation for Trump’s comments during the campaign. But that is bullshit. McCain and his two GOP colleagues finally said ‘NO’ and they used the tool available to them to protect the minority from the whims of the majority.

To quote the senator, “My friends” that – THAT – is the wonder, the ugly sausage making, contentious, nonsensical, awe-inspiring and wondrous institution that we call the United States Senate.

I do not want last night’s vote to be McCain’s last. I want to see him on Meet the Press and Face the Nation talking about ISIS, Russia and how Obama’s foreign policy left us weaker in the eyes of the world. I want to see McCain give dozens of more floor speeches, cast hundreds of more votes and inspire others to pursue public and military service.

But most importantly, I want John McCain to continue to demonstrate that the “establishment” is not the problem. That the “swamp” is not the problem. Instead, McCain represents the solution. The plea to return to regular order and bipartisanship. The indictment AGAINST brinksmanship and ‘win at all costs’ maneuvering. The public rebuke of obstructionism. Last night, the establishment scored a victory and in the long run, so will America.

Amy, from the Facebook Archives

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