John McCain Died, But America May Have Been Reborn
Can a new, improved America be born in the midst of its funeral?
Along with many Americans, on Saturday I watched the nationally televised funeral for John McCain. And also, I believe, I watched a funeral for the loss of American ideals, as well as a rallying cry for our nation. No, John McCain was not a perfect man, and many people including myself disagreed with him politically, but this was a funeral that made it feel as if John McCain was sort of America’s ‘everyman,’ someone we could respectfully agree to disagree with, but also someone whose love of country and personal sacrifice we’d never doubt, just as we’d never doubt his inherent respect for all people.
This, for my generation, became evident on the 2008 election campaign trail when McCain quickly shot down racist tropes against Obama that some of his audience members tried to perpetuate. Obama was his rival. In today’s political climate those racist tropes might’ve been considered valuable ammunition, but in 2008 America, John McCain quickly took the mic, shook his head no, and spoke clearly, defending his rival as “a decent person, a person you do not have to be scared of as a President of the United States.”
When another audience member began discussing how she couldn’t trust Obama because she’d been reading about him, and how he was an Arab, McCain again took the mic away and with integrity, he refuted the claim, and again described Obama as “a decent, family man, a citizen, and someone I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
We knew about John McCain with the fiery temper, the horrifically tortured POW, the war hero, the Senator who often dramatically defied policies if he felt they were genuinely bad for the country, but this glimpse on Saturday gave us an understanding of John McCain the individual, the son, the husband, the father. And I think many of us are realizing that his death sort of signals the end of an era, an…