After John McCain revealed last week that he was diagnosed with brain cancer, responses online ranged from effusive odes to his military service and political career to snide, vitriolic posts asserting that we should celebrate the Republican senator’s terminal illness. As with nearly everything in this day and age, McCain’s medical condition was immediately politicized—to humanize him in death, some said, is to also celebrate his problematic career. To criticize him in death, others argued, is to disrespect his service.
A new essay from The Outline is here to remind us that we possess the ability to separate politics and humanity. “When personality rather than policy is brought to the fore,” writes Eoin Higgins, “you can end up with a dangerous sort of revisionism that skips over legislative record.” Those who forget the past, after all…
While the senator may well be a tough man, kind father, and good friend, his policy priorities during his decades in office have had detrimental effects on people here and across the world. During his decades in office, McCain has pursued policies that have led to, at minimum, thousands of deaths. McCain has made it clear that he will support the GOP health care bill, which would strip health insurance from over 20 million Americans. It’s particularly important to focus on that point—McCain’s hospital stay is being provided for by the government so he has the chance to come back and work to ensure the rest of the country has less access to care.
McCain often presented himself in public as a centrist, but his record shows him voting with President George W. Bush’s priorities 95 percent of the time and obstructing the Obama administration at nearly every opportunity. He’s also been aggressively pro-war and has routinely displayed a disregard for civilian life in the Middle East. Not much has changed either—despite what he says to the likes of Seth Myers, McCain has voted with President Donald Trump 90 percent of the time. And that’s exactly what he did today, flying to D.C. from his Arizona sick bed to vote on the GOP’s healthcare bill, which will deprive millions of the sort of health care keeping him alive.
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