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Lingering Thoughts from the Weekend: McCain’s Surprising Posthumous Support

After a long-fought battle with brain cancer, Sen. John McCain made the decision to stop receiving medical treatment last Friday and later passed away Saturday, August 25, 2018. Senator McCain was known for his unwavering military service, even in the face of unimaginable danger, and for dedicating the rest of his life to serving as a political leader in his state, the U.S. Senate and the GOP. Regardless of any differences in my own political views, my thoughts are with his family and loved ones in this time of grief and great loss.

Many millennials, including myself, were first introduced to Sen. John McCain as he ran for the presidency against then Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 election. I still vividly remember the many heated debates that occurred between both the candidates and their respective supporters during that time. I also remember that there were not many liberal-leaning individuals or Obama supporters who had too many nice things to say about Sen. McCain during that election season, or after. Because of this, it has been quite a surprise for me to see the magnitude of public condolences, tributes, and memorialized responses to McCain’s passing from a number of openly liberal celebrities, friends, and family members on various social media platforms since the news of his passing first broke.

I was recently discussing my surprise with a friend who expressed a similar reaction to the public outcry.

I mean no shade, but I have seen people (especially Black people) posting personal sentiments to the man that chose the infamous Sarah Palin as his presidential running mate, who didn’t even say a word about the passing of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, just a week prior.

I don’t say this to imply that one life was more valuable than the other—because that is certainly not the case at all—but it is just very interesting that so many people who were once so fervently against this man seem to now have a very favorable change of heart. Witnessing this has made me wonder when and how many of the people in question came to feel such endearment toward Senator McCain, and whether there is a correlation between that shift and the turmoil of the current administration.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who passed away from pancreatic cancer August 16, 2018, a week prior to Sen. McCain’s death.

I can’t help but wonder if the sudden kudos being extended toward Sen. McCain is related to the fact the current Republican president and his administration are such extreme examples of toxic leadership. Since we now have experience with an unprecedented example of an unruly administration and the nation’s reputation is even more in shambles than ever before, is it possible that people’s appreciation for McCain is rooted in their current state of misery? Do people now respect his war efforts and long career in government more because Donald Trump governs as if he’s playing a video game,like the unqualified man-child he is? Are people more grateful for McCain in hindsight because he still displayed decorum and integrity when met with an opposition in thought, unlike the current president? Or, are people projecting hope in the possibility that a McCain presidency may not have been as hard to stomach, or may have even prevented, the one we are now enduring?

Part of me does believe that some people are genuinely aiming to be kind and supportive toward a family in grief, with their remarks. There is nothing wrong with the commemorating someone who fought for what they believed in the way Sen. McCain did, without regard of what it may have cost him. However, a strong part of me also feels that others are praising the fallen senator perhaps because of the comfort they feel in knowing that he was one of few prominent Republicans who openly stood against Trump; it could also be related to his overall reputation, which did not seem to be explicitly reflective of the increasingly overt bigotry of the Republican Party.

Personally, I’m not arguing for or against any of these lines of thought; in my opinion, it is sad to hear of any loss of life and my sincerest condolences are with the McCain, Franklin, and recent mass shooting victims’ families alike. The focus of my perplexity lies solely in gaining more understanding as to the source of the newly expressed support of the senator because, quite frankly, I’ve seen a more prolific outpouring from the left in his favor upon his passing, than I ever saw while he was alive.

What are your thoughts? Let’s discuss.

Be informed. Be intentional. Stay Kultured.



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