By: Emily Balogh, Contributor
Flags hanging at half-mast, news outlets across political spectrums coming together to cover the same story, politicians around the world observed in mourning — all are a testament to a great loss. Former senator and presidential candidate John McCain passed away Aug. 25, 2018. McCain, an Arizona senator who was battling an aggressive form of cancer known as Glioblastoma, died due to complications from this malignant brain tumor. McCain was a politician who united both sides of the political spectrum; he attempted to stray from today’s intensely polarized politics. Seen by many as one of America’s greatest politicians, McCain’s death signals a loss to both his family and his country, which has long benefited from his lifetime dedication to bipartisan progress.
McCain was a national hero in respect to his military service. While flying over North Vietnam in 1967, McCain was hit by enemy fire and subsequently crashed. Taken as a Prisoner of War (POW), McCain endured torturous conditions for over five years. Even when given the decision to be released early, McCain refused until his fellow POWs could be freed as well. Even while withstanding the worst tortures a human can face, McCain never lost his nerve. This dedication to do what is right by the people in his care is something he carried with him into his political career.
Though a Republican, McCain crossed party lines on numerous occasions. Most famously, McCain returned early from recovery after brain surgery to vote against a Republican bill to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the party’s version of healthcare. McCain was the deciding vote, and simultaneously enraged many conservatives while being lauded by those in support of Obamacare. For many, it was an iconic moment when McCain walked onto the Senate floor and gave a thumbs down to indicate his vote. The room, typically filled with level-headed professionals, erupted as every senator reacted to the shocking party betrayal. Other iconic McCain moments include when he voted against President George W. Bush’s tax cuts, making him one of only two Republicans to do so. Though McCain did follow traditional party lines on numerous issues, he listened to both sides and always seemed to choose the decision he felt was best for the people, despite pressure from his party. John McCain ultimately chose integrity over party, acting as a role model for politicians across the nation.
Senator John McCain died a national hero: ex-POW, politician with integrity and overall selfless man — his loss will be keenly felt. McCain’s legacy will act as a guide for politicians and voters both today and in the future, especially as we face such stark political divisiveness. McCain’s story should inspire us to put people, not parties, first.