Let us begin with what I imagine is obvious, but in case there is any doubt: I did not vote for John McCain. This is primarily because I am a registered Democrat, and I live in California, so the opportunity for casting my ballot for the Senator from Arizona came around exactly once. I picked Barack Obama instead. This was also at a time when many of the decisions being made by John McCain seemed to be coming from a different place. He seemed to be playing along with the powers that were in the Republican Party back in 2008. Eight years after giving George W. Bush fits as the two of them squared off for their party's nomination, he played along to be the next in a string of conservative voices. The problem was that the conservative voice of 2000 was a very different one in 2008. There was more fear and rancor after September 11, 2001. So much so that the GOP platform of 2008 called for a heaping helping of both. Something that candidate McCain never seemed completely comfortable with.
There was a town hall meeting in Minnesota, a month before the election, Senator McCain stood and listened to a number of his supporters echo the tired refrains about this "foreigner" that was running against him. Then he abruptly took the microphone from a woman who was referring to Barack Obama as "an Arab." With less than thirty days to the election, John McCain said this: “No, ma’m. He’s a decent family man - and citizen that just I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what the campaign’s all about." And in that moment, Senator McCain was able to define politics in America for those who had forgotten. “I want to fight, and I will fight,” he said. “But I will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments, and I will respect him.”
If there was nothing more to the story of John McCain, this is significant enough to distinguish him from so many other politicians before or since. A veteran and public servant for virtually all of his adult life, he didn't just understand the importance of giving back in a democracy. He lived it. Contrasting mightily to the "birther" hoots coming from Donald Trump in 2008, and in proud defiance of that same man's degrading remarks as they ran for the Republican nomination in 2016, John McCain walked the walk.
I may have had some disagreements with him on fundamental issues, but he was able to keep the fight in the ring. I respect and admire him for it. John McCain was a hero, and he stomped on the Terra. He will be missed.
Aloha, Senator McCain.