Cruel. Irresponsible. Reckless. Selfish. Evil. These are just some of the words I’ve used to describe the Republicans and their agenda since 2009. Mitch McConnell, now the Senate Majority Leader, declared that his only agenda was to make sure Obama didn’t get re-elected. Let’s be clear, the opposition to Barack Obama’s presidency went beyond politics. America is hooked on two drugs Racism and Denial. I continue to believe that these two things are crippling our political system and it is threatening to collapse under the weight. Barack Obama by becoming President of the United States challenged the unstated belief that this is first and foremost a white Christian country and they just tolerate the rest of us.
I get through that preamble to say this: John McCain is just a Republican. When McCain returned to the Senate yesterday to vote yes on a motion to proceed on a horrendous piece of legislation whose main purpose is to take healthcare away from millions of Americans he was just doing what Republicans tend to do in this modern era. They may pretend to be individuals but they are a borg like collective who toe the party line, grit their teeth and pray that the American people are sufficiently fractured so that the masochistic poor whites and greedy rich ones can make it to the polls next November to keep them in office. The sad part about this whole experience is that isn’t really a risky bet.
John McCain has been trading on this “maverick” image for decades. I became aware of him in the Republican primaries during the 2000 election cycle. He seemed like a credible threat to the ascendancy of George W. Bush. However it was not to be and he remained that cantankerous Senator from Arizona. The one who occasionally said something bad about George W. Bush but voted in lock step with his agenda 90 percent of the time. Today he is that same person. He talks a good game to be sure. He all but lets us know how he feels about Donald Trump. But Trump’s agenda is the Republican Party’s agenda. And right now their primary goal is to destroy Obamacare. We can get into the reasons why but that’s a whole different subject.
American media has this way of covering politics the same way they do sports and entertainment. They want clear simple narratives. They want good guys and bad guys. They would like to be consistent in their treatment of a subject for the most part whether it’s fair or not. (see Clinton, Hilary). John McCain’s reputation as a war hero and now as a cancer survivor has pretty much guaranteed he will not face true scrutiny from the most prolific voices in mass media. In America our idea of honoring someone or something is to pretend their flaws don’t exist (see all the cop loving jingoists who believe the police can do no wrong). The elevator pitch for John McCain was war hero. From there it became Maverick. Now it will be cancer survivor.
The ironic thing about this is that John McCain cancer survivor is the one who just yesterday showed up fresh from removal of a tumor to vote to take healthcare away from Americans. He got a standing ovation from the entire Senate just by being present. There was no context for why he was there. There was no reflection on what his vote would mean. He gave a little lip service to the idea of the Senate serving as a check on the unbridled power of the presidency, then proceeded to vote lock and step with Trump’s agenda. As he has done over 90 percent of the time since Trump took office. Let’s not be surprised by this. This is what Republicans do. They conform. They’re conformists. Ask Reince Priebus. Ask Rand Paul. Ask Paul Ryan. There are no heroes among them.
John McCain is just a Republican. I say that again. It sounds dismissive and condescending. And it’s meant to. I no longer want to pretend like I only have political differences with Republicans. I have philosophical differences with Republicans. Like Mitch McConnell’s response to Obama this is about more than politics. This is about a worldview that is irreconcilable with mine. I look at people and value them more than property. I think healthcare should be a right in what (for now) is the richest country in the world. It’s already immoral and unethical for medical bills to bankrupt you. It should be illegal as well. John McCain might believe this too. But we’ll never know because he’s a Republican. So far now as a loyal Republican his goal is to help his party destroy anything that Barack Obama touched. Trump’s agenda like Mitch McConnell’s before him is not about political differences. This is about undoing everything the Black President did. Because in their minds a black man should never have had the audacity to sit in the Oval Office.
If the concern was really about healthcare the Republicans would have drafted a bill that improves health outcomes and/or lowers costs. None of their proposed bills accomplishes either of those goals. There are actual deficiencies in the Affordable Care Act to be sure. But that’s to be expected. The bill itself is largely a compromise with Republicans and an exercise in responsible governing back when that was a thing. Contained in the word compromise is the word “promise”. And the Republicans have broken theirs time and time again. Now they have seized control of all three branches of government and given a blank check to the most reckless man in the history of the office.
So you’ll forgive me if I fail to see this as politics as usual. We are way beyond that and we have been since Donald Trump stepped up to the podium at Quicken Loans Arena last summer and laid out his apocalyptic worldview and a stadium full of zombies applauded. Donald Trump and his coalition of fanatics, bigots, and Russian moles have declared war on our way of life. If you are waiting for John McCain to save you, you’ll likely remain a prisoner of this war.