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Does John McCain’s death signal the end of the old Republican Party?

John McCain John McCain August 29, 1936 - August 25, 2018
Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash. Your picture in the paper nor money in the bank, neither. Just refuse to bear them.”   — William Faulkner, “Intruder in the Dust”


A mighty oak has fallen. With the passing of Arizona Senator, John McCain, America has lost a great statesman and the United States Senate has lost one of its wisest and most treasured lions .

Senator McCain was a patriot and true hero. A man with deep Mississippi roots, unfailing integrity, and uncommon political courage, Senator McCain spent a lifetime making his country proud. Brutally tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, he demonstrated enormous courage and exemplary character by allowing the torture and captivity to continue, rather than accepting an offer to be released before his fellow prisoners.

As a member of Congress, McCain was always a voice of civility and reason. He was always an unambiguous voice for the rule of law, US military superiority, and American exceptionalism around the world.

Senator McCain possessed two traits that seem in scarce supply these days: integrity and dignity. He was a tough-as-nails fighter for what he believed, and all members of the Senate attest to his worthiness as a debate opponent. Yet, he would often reach across party lines and embrace policy positions that were not politically expedient. McCain, unlike most others, understood that true patriotism cannot be achieved passively. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It is a serious way of life that requires daily involvement from our leaders, daily watchfulness, daily faith and devotion.

John McCain

John McCain in an interview shortly after his release from POW camp.

As both a Navy aviator and lawmaker, John McCain was the very embodiment of what made America great in the first place. Perhaps like no one else, he understood the value of freedom. He understood that freedom is not a commodity we can pay for all at once. He understood that freedom is only obtained on a permanent installment plan, the terms of which are constant sacrifice and vigilance. Unlike the current occupant of the White House, Senator McCain realized that, if these terms are not fully met and paid on time, the whole deal can be canceled — and there will be no America to “make great again“!

Sadly, Senator McCain’s voice has been silenced by death’s grave, and it may very well be the end of the Republican Party that he loved and we all admired — the party of the past 100 years, as personified by Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Regan. That Republican Party was a party that believed, as John McCain did, in fairness, in the rule of law at home and in advancing freedom abroad. This old Republican Party of John McCain believed America can compete with anyone and that trade wars are dangerous. It believed in science and that clean air and water were pretty important. That old Republican Party of John McCain believed that a responsible immigration policy was essential for a growing industrial and agricultural nation.

In the past two years, that Grand Ole Party has been the victim of a hostile takeover by a philandering, unrepentant, lying con-man. He ridicules America’s allies, embraces thugs and dictators, and makes a mockery of the rule of law, thus rendering us the laughing-stock of the world.

Only John McCain, and, sometimes, Tennessee’s Bob Corker, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, and Ohio’s former governor, John Kasich, have shown the courage to challenge this disaster that lives in our White House. To say that Senator McCain’s voice will be missed is a gross understatement! Without him, the Republican Party will likely become nothing more than a bunch of sniveling cheerleaders for Donald Trump and his narcissism.

John McCain was one of the very few with the courage and the gravitas to remind his country and his party of what truly makes America great.

Steve Patterson, at home in Como, MS.

Some have suggested that the Russell Senate Office Building (named for Richard Russell of Georgia, another legendary statesman) be renamed for McCain, as a lasting tribute to his statesmanship.

My suggestion would be that his Republican colleagues abandon that notion. Instead, they should become profiles in courage like John McCain was, fully exercising their constitutional role of oversight, and reigning in the megalomaniac in the White House! This would be a more lasting and practical monument to Senator McCain’s service and memory.

Senator McCain called it like he saw it, irrespective of popularity or party.

John McCain left an extraordinary example to be followed – just suck it up and find the courage to do what’s right!

Some things we ought not bear!

–By Steve Patterson

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