Monday, August 27, 2018

Weeping for the loss of Senator John McCain

I cannot write any more eloquently about Senator John McCain than what has already been posted in thousands of penned tributes. So, I write today for a somewhat selfish purpose—to vent.

I was not prepared for the emotions that percolated to the surface with the passing of Senator McCain. Weepy episodes that I haven’t experienced since my own mother passed away. Tears that have come unexpectedly, triggered by any number of otherwise benign catalysts. Perhaps, it is that, as a fellow Naval Academy graduate and Naval Aviator, I feel a special kinship with him.

But the more I reflect on why the tears continue to leak, I realize it is more than just the death of this giant of a man. I grieve for the loss of a stalwart vanguard against those who would destroy what makes this country great. Who would excise, with almost scalpel-like precision, the underlying tenets of our democracy. Who do not know honor or decency or civility. Who cannot possibly understand service to country above service to self. Who lack any moral template or resolve whatsoever.

I weep, because who is left to stand up to this?

Our elected officials have a sworn obligation to do so, but I haven’t seen it yet. In fact, I have to wonder, when the majority party sits in Washington National Cathedral on Saturday at Senator McCain’s funeral, if they might fast forward to their own eulogies. What will someone say on their behalf? If written today, I suspect they wouldn’t be too proud of what was said. Or rather, what wasn’t.

I weep, because who is left as a role model for our children? For my own sons?

It is a travesty that my husband and I cannot hold up our president or anyone in his administration as worthy of emulating. It is a shame that we cannot point to Congress and say, “You see, kids, this is what it looks like to act in a bipartisan way. To stand up for what is decent and right. This is what it looks like to put country above party. To put the good of democracy above the good of self.”

I weep, because it is difficult to fathom that the one person who lived and breathed and bled honor is not here anymore.

Because it’s not just my sons I’m worried about. Young men and women across the country are moving through their formative years without any living examples of what good leadership looks like. What good leadership acts like.

They see only an administration that humiliates, denigrates, and eviscerates anyone who disagrees with them. They see only a political majority in the House and Senate who have served as nothing more than flaccid carpets for the mud-soaked boots of this administration.

They see only a president with a vacuous soul, one shockingly absent of empathy, compassion, and love. A president without one shred of self-esteem. A president so petty, so small, he could not honor Senator McCain with a simple “thank you for your service” tweet. Or even keep the flag at half-staff in his honor, until the outcry was so great, he finally caved to the pressure.

I weep, because who do we look to? Who is going to step up?

I don’t think it’s possible to fill Senator McCain’s shoes, but our elected officials could certainly follow his example. They could pull their shoulders back, take a deep breath, and wade into the moral vacuum that is this administration, then roll up their sleeves and get on with it. The history books still have plenty of room left for one or more heroes to stand up for this country, just as Senator McCain did.  

In the meantime, even as my boys gently tease, “Mom, are you tearing up again?” I have to believe that the vast majority of people in this country—even the nebulous, notorious, always-pandered-to “base”—know the difference between right and wrong. Honor and infamy. Hero and hack.

I would like to think I can keep the faith. I would like to think I can continue to hope. I would like to think I can stand strong for my boys in the face of this existential threat to our democracy.

John McCain would keep the faith.
John McCain would continue to hope.
John McCain would stand strong.

No more weeping.

I will do the same.