Our identities and self worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves. ~Senator John McCain
Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We do not hide from history. We make history. ~Senator John McCain
I was somewhere in my early 20s when I really learned who John McCain was.
I had known of a republican Senator named John McCain before then, of course – having been raised by a father who read the Conservative Chronicle and being a card-carrying member of the grand old party myself, I knew most of the GOP players by name.
But I didn’t hear his whole story – his jaw-dropping, voice-cracking, heart-stirring story – until later, when he was running for the republican nomination for president. After hearing of his valor, his commitment – his dedication to his country and his moral code – I was shocked that anyone would consider voting for anyone but him.
I am fully aware that I am not qualified to eulogize John McCain. But I am qualified enough, I suppose, to reflect upon why I think he is being mourned by so many of us who did not share many (or any) of his political views.
John McCain did not tread water with his life. He did not bide his time.
Perhaps spending five years in a hole in the ground will do that to a person.
He is – he was – the embodiment of the idea that there’s never an ending to your personal story – no matter how difficult the path may seem or how improbable your success may appear. He was a walking, talking, breathing example that you can always find a way, if you persist, if you continue, if you muster the will.
We need that example more than ever, now – the true story of someone who persisted, who continued on even when all seemed lost, who credited his survival to living for a higher purpose than himself.
Who was a hero.
We are so eager now for examples of valor, and honor, and integrity. Perhaps it’s because we are led by men whose souls are for sale to the highest bidder, and remembering a time when our leaders were magnificent and brave and heroic is like a cool drink – a reprieve from the otherwise oppressive heat.
But John McCain was good. He was not perfect. And that makes him the perfect hero. He was not impossibly squeaky clean. He was human. Like you. And like me.
His very fallibility – the fact that he sometimes made bad choices – reminds us that we all actually have choices. Every day we make choices about who and how to be.
We can choose to be magnificent. We can choose to be courageous captains of our lives, living fully aware and awake and rowing against the tide of inevitability and mediocrity.
Or we can float.
But every day, we have the choice. Because being a hero isn’t doing one thing, or giving the right speech, or giving someone’s campaign $5. Being a hero is waking up in the morning and making the decision to do better, to be better, to make things better by doing unglamorous stuff like getting on the phone to your representatives to – yet again – be told by the snippy intern on the other end of the line that the Senator strongly supports X or Y or Z. Being a hero isn’t glamorous. It’s tedious.
That’s why it’s hard.
Senator John McCain’s thinking did not always align with mine, nor with yours. But in the words of his long-time aide, speechwriter, and friend Mark Salter, John McCain “thought it a moral failure to accept injustice as the inescapable tragedy of our fallen nature.” I think we can all agree with that.
May we all rise to this occasion that we find ourselves in, and not accept the injustices that may seem inevitable. May we all continue to fight, to work together, and to make ourselves and our country a more perfect union.
I think that, even if Senator McCain disagreed with us on policy, he would agree with us in that spirit.
Let’s get to work.
Tuesday: Oppose Kavanaugh (Yes, Again, I Know)
It feels tedious, I know, but it’s critical for so many reasons that we oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. At this point, Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator – he should not be nominating justices to the very Court that could adjudicate issues relating to the ongoing investigation of his presidency. Full stop. Plus, his hearing is supposed to go forward next week, even with just 3% of Kavanaugh’s records being public. They’re hiding something, no? And as if you didn’t already have enough reasons to oppose Kavanaugh, last year he gave a speech saying that he thought the Supreme Court was wrong to uphold the ACA. Yeah. Healthcare is yet again in play.
Here’s a great chart from Indivisible showing just where Senators stand on this. You can click on your Senators’ name to get a link to their public statement, and call or e-mail their staff at the e-mail/number provided. Super simple!
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling to encourage the Senator to vote against Kavanaugh’s nomination at this time. We don’t have full and complete records from the National Archives at this point, which is reason enough to wait. But we also now know that Donald Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator, and moving forward on the nomination of a justice that may adjudicate issues relating to the matter is a clear conflict of interest.
Wednesday: Violence Against Women
The right wing echo chamber has usurped the tragic killing of a woman – Mollie Tibbits – to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment. You likely have heard the incredibly sad tale; Mollie was on a run, refused the advances of a Mexican national who became enraged and killed her. Because he is an immigrant, the Fox Newses of the world have used her murder to justify anti-immigrant policies.
Her family has even issued a statement calling out the right wing media for using her murder to foster fear-mongering.
But violence against women is a serious problem in our society. So when/if you see your republican MOC use her murder to justify stoking hatred toward immigrants, could you please call them out for not co-sponsoring the Violence Against Women Act? If they actually care about women’s lives, they’ll join on and renew that legislation, rather than just using a woman’s death as a political football. As of today, there are 136 co-sponsors, and NOT ONE of them is a member of the GOP. So let’s make sure they see that we see exactly what they’re doing.
Thursday: Trump Tweets – We Write!
Postcards to Voters is a great organization that helps pair people who are willing to write postcards to Democratic voters with campaigns that need help getting their message out there. It’s been around since 2017, and results have been fantastic – clearly, people want to feel personal connections with other folks who believe in democracy and LOVE getting postcards from fellow Dems!
But here’s such a great idea: writing one postcard for each Trump tweet. It’s like a Trump swear jar that benefits Democratic nominees. Fantastic!
To get started with a campaign, go to https://postcardstovoters.org or text JOIN to 484-275-2229.
Friday: Let Their Fear Be Your Motivation!
This week, Axios reported that a Republican senior house member’s office had created and disseminated a spreadsheet documenting over 100 formal requests from House Democrats for investigation of various aspects of the Trump administration – from tax records and emoluments to policy decisions like the travel ban and the Putin summit.
While it’s causing its fair share of heartburn in republican circles, it’s a great reminder of why we need to flip the House in November. Read the short article for a nice, succinct list of issues and scandals that could be investigated if the GOP were not blocking us from the truth. Use that as your fuel when you’re writing postcards, knocking doors, or calling your MOCs this week!
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