Smith: Remembering Sen. John McCain, a testament to the American way

Unfortunately, there are not many people in this world who have a clean bill of ethics. It is a challenging feat to achieve. We are flawed the majority of the time, and it sets us up for greatness.

There are those who are exceptionally kind, irrevocably compassionate and painstakingly selfless. Recently, one such great passed on: Sen. John McCain; a true maverick and a testament to the American way.

There are, of course, several reasons to admire and applaud McCain, but I commend him most for his integrity. In too many scenarios, we witness how partisanship contributes to a lust for political points. And within the general population, trivial factors such as race or social status seperate and confuse the most important parts of being an American. McCain was an example of how to avoid these plights. He refined his campaigns to matters of most importance, shunning the scope of unfair biases and the reward of playing into this nation’s prejudice.

It would have been easy for McCain to promote the “birther” rumors directed toward then-Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign. He chose not to do that. In fact, when one of his supporters insinuated that Obama was an Arab in a question she was about to tee up, McCain took away her mic. “No ma’am,” he said respectfully as he retrieved the mic. “He’s a decent family man, and a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That’s what this campaign is all about.”

That statement represented a kindness that is woefully rare in this country. He embodied decency and practiced the correct way to handle people you do not agree with. It is an attitude this country needs right now. And with his death, I fear it is an attitude that we may not see exemplified again for a long time.

I have always enjoyed the grit of McCain and his refusal to do what others thought a person in his position of power should do. He made it abundantly clear that he was a statesman, a senator and a Republican through and through. But, above all of those identities, he was first and foremost John McCain.

He refused to play into fear. Instead, he tried to enlighten people and give them something concrete to believe in. He was appalled, as anyone should be, by senseless fears and how people used them in their judgment of candidates.

His death pains me, because we are saying goodbye to a man whose greatness of character exceeded that of his accomplishments. But even more so, I am saddened that the country he hoped for and his vision of freedom may never be realized. I am upset that more people didn’t believe in his vision of America.

Goodbye Sen. McCain. Though we never met, your hope and legacy made its way to me. And if no one else is willing to, I’ll fight for the decency you demonstrated so flawlessly.

Josiah Smith is a Fourth-year English and business management double major.