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The Election Is About Us

In 2014 the Senate was embroiled in controversy over the pending release of an Intelligence Committee report about the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” or “torture” program during the Bush years.

Most Republicans were opposed to its release, led by none other than Lindsay Graham and Susan Collins. They said it would lead to “violent reprisals that would endanger American personnel and jeopardize intelligence interests.”

Their colleague, John McCain, disagreed, convinced that for the sake of the nation’s integrity and honor the country needed to know what our leaders did that went against the values we say we uphold as a country.

At one point he made a simple, but profound statement: “This isn’t about our enemies. This is about us.” The Sunday afterward he echoed that statement on Meet the Press: “It’s about us: what we were, what we are, and what we should be.”

I believe these words by the late Senator McCain speak directly to what this election is about.

When you have a President described by retired Marine Corps General John Kelly as “the most flawed person I have ever met in my life,” re-electing him is not about him, it is about us.

In that same CNN report, General Kelly also said this about Trump, “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship…it’s more pathetic than anything else.”

Kelly, of course, served as Trump’s Chief of Staff from July 2017 to January 2019. He was literally with him every day seven days a week for a year and a half. He got to know Trump “up close and personal,” making what he said about him all the more stunning.

It also underscores why this election is about us.

Every vote is a decision about what we were as a people before Trump, what we are with him, and what we should be going forward.

John McCain spent six years as a prisoner of war in Viet Nam. He knew about torture, and he knew about honor. He did not want the country he served in war and in the Senate to engage in behavior common to our enemies and against which the U.S. has stood since the founding of the nation. 

The report Republicans wanted to hide exposed the Bush Administration’s betrayal of that moral position. They euphemistically called it “enhanced interrogation,” but everybody knew it was a program of torture. 

For John McCain supporting the release of the report was a sacred duty to his country. He was as conservative as a Republican could be, but he was a man of integrity and honor first.

I think it is fair to say that the Republicans leaders and voters who are opposing the re-election of Donald Trump are embodying the spirit of John McCain.

Because of their personal integrity they cannot support another four years of a man whose leadership they believe is ruinous for the nation.

They understand what John McCain understood, that there are times when the honor of the nation is in such jeopardy that putting the country before any other political loyalty is the only right thing to do.

That is what opposing Donald Trump means right now for Republicans who are making that choice.

Whether the Republican Party leaders realize it or not, this is a ray of light for a party that has been engulfed in political darkness for the last four years.

But let’s go a step further.

Just how great is it that a majority of Americans – Republicans, Democrats, independents – who disagree on many things, if not most things, are nonetheless at this moment uniting to put country over partisan politics and defeat Donald Trump. 

I’d say pretty great, pretty great, indeed. 

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