Senator John McCain Puts Conscience over Party Loyalty

John McCain, Republican Senator from Arizona, has recently received both criticism and praise from opposing sides of the political spectrum for his recent votes on health care reform.

A poll from The Hill on August 14, 2017 reveals the stunning truth about McCain’s favorability ratings after his vote to kill an ObamaCare Repeal bill in Senate. According to the poll, 71% of Democrats had a favorable rating of Senator McCain while only 51% of Republicans felt the same way.

McCain stated on September 22, 2017, “Health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate.” He wishes to “achieve bipartisan consensus” on the health care bill. He has voted “nay” on all the Republican healthcare reform plans during Trump’s first term, leading many Republicans to question his ethics and loyalty to the Republican party and conservative values.

Democrats have been praising McCain for his actions concerning health care. As long as a handful of Republicans holds a similar belief, Democratic opposition will inevitably lead to the failure of conservative bills to pass. Republicans, however, are naturally frustrated with the results that they see from McCain’s unfaithful statements.

The Republicans’ Graham-Cassidy bill to replace ObamaCare failed to pass in the Senate by September 30th, being shot down by Senator McCain along with a couple other Republicans and the Democrats. When asked about his vote on the bill, McCain explained he would consider supporting the legislation “were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of the September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.”

McCain did not make this announcement with enjoyment; rather he said “I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it.” The motive for McCain’s opposition is the lack of bipartisan debate. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, Republicans feel as though the Democrats themselves are not willing to negotiate, and thus nothing will be completed in the Senate.

President Trump has repeatedly called out McCain for the senator’s failed support for bills on veteran affairs and most recently, healthcare. Trump has not kept his disdain for the eighty-one-year-old senator private; he has inflicted personal insults such as “He’s not a war hero” and in regard to his 2008 presidential run against Barack Obama, “I supported him. He lost. He let us down.”

McCain, in turn, blasted Trump and his followers on October 16 in a speech in Philadelphia. He lashed out “To refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last, best hope of Earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

Many Republicans feel alienated by Senator McCain’s votes on health care and views on nationalism. Overall, however, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Tracking Congress McCain has voted in the Senate 83.3% of the time in accordance with Trump’s view. Whether this is enough to maintain his conservative base in Arizona will be decided in the 2018 Senate elections.


By: Paul Marselus