John McCain Didn’t Kill Trump

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, my 10-year-old self was certain he was the most anti-McCain person in America. I had my Obama t-shirt, hat, and campaign buttons, unabashedly denouncing the Republican nominee at recess. It was with a grudging respect, then, after the 2016 election, I watched as Senator John McCain became one of the most vocal Republicans to split off from the president’s vile rhetoric. It was even more surprising when, as I was reading the news report on his death, I was compelled by his dedication to service and to his country. His politics were not the best for the country, and it’s a good thing he was never our president, but he lived a life in which he was honest about his own flaws and strived to do what he saw as right.

Illustration by Cate Johnson

With these qualities, McCain stands in stark contrast to the Republican Party’s de facto leader — someone who views himself as always right, yet is constantly doing wrong. Watching George W. Bush slip Michelle Obama a piece of candy at McCain’s Washington, D.C. memorial service may seem like a return to peace in Washington. We hear echos of news surrounding Robert Mueller, the special counsel, piling up evidence that could be the final nail in the coffin of this presidency. Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager, has pleaded guilty, and Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal counsel, is willing to cooperate with prosecutors. It seems like the roller coaster is about to go downhill: Washington is normal, the midterms are coming up and many Democrats are polling well. Time and again, we have seen that what should have been the ‘final nail’ in the coffin of this presidency has barely made an impact. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

There has been plenty of instances in recent history that seemed like they should have been the death knell for the president’s time in the Oval Office. His potential violation of the Emoluments Clause is one prime example. The clause stipulates the president won’t profit off the merit of their office. And yet, we see foreign diplomats coming to Washington and staying in Trump Hotels, effectively giving money to the president’s businesses and strengthening his assets. The latter of which, he still has not put in a blind trust, as is common practice among his predecessors.

There’s the all-but-confirmed extramarital affair with Stephanie Clifford, the adult actress more commonly known as Stormy Daniels. This affair, which took place the same year as the birth of his youngest son, should have caused even the staunchest supporters of the president to condemn the ostensible leader of the free world. Then there’s the ‘hush money’ allegedly paid by Michael Cohen to ensure that news of the affair didn’t break. Not to mention the fact that the president lied on April 5, saying he had no knowledge of the payment, a statement he later reversed course on.

Then there’s his praise of Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is one who wields his political power like an axe, swift and deadly, refusing to hear dissent and taking care of the interests of his close friends before those of his people. President Trump loves this, and praises it, despite the United States and Russia having conflicting diplomatic goals in many respects. Our president’s amiable relationship with one of America’s adversaries, who undeniably interfered with our electoral process, is an enormous red flag. There’s even the repudiation of trade relations with Canada, one of our largest trading partners, with whom we didn’t have bad relations before, but now even the peaceful folks to the North are ticked off. And everything I mentioned? Most of this has only gone down as of this year. There’s more 2018 to come, and swift justice for this president might not be in the cards.

Beyond the maelstrom in the Oval Office, there are plenty of issues to still be fired up about. The southern border remains an area of political and social strife, as the government has not been able to reunite the families that are so cruelly and inhumanely separated in the name of ‘border security’. The government has incomplete records and the legal pace of a snail. Some of the reunions that have happened and been documented are heartbreaking, with children not recognizing their parents or thinking that they were abandoned. The refusal of passports to U.S. citizens along the border under the pretense that they may have had falsified birth certificates. While these refusals happened during both the Bush and Obama administrations, the current administration is ramping up the refusals for thousands of people, many of them veterans, living along the border with Mexico.

The current hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, being fast-tracked through the Judiciary Committee without full release of his body of work from the Bush White House, are a sloppy and blatant attempt to ram through a nominee without full consideration. Just yesterday, Judge Kavanaugh was greeted by the father of a Parkland school shooting victim after his hearing. Kavanaugh stared the man down without so much as an empathetic glance.

If anything you read above made you mad, I’m not going to say that’s a bad thing. If it wasn’t clear already, I’d say every damn thing listed after the first paragraph is a travesty. There’s ample crap floating around in the milieu of the events of 2018 to engage with and try to improve if you so choose. Don’t sit idly by and wait for the courts to shut the door on this sham of an administration. John McCain was, ultimately, a flawed figure. He served his country, though, and he did what he thought was right. Washington can calm down all it wants to mourn — we have work to do.

John Feigelson

John Feigelson

John Feigelson is an avid writer, reader, climber, skier, Swedish fish eater, comic book aficionado and New York Yankees fan. He is an organismal biology and ecology major from New York City, and loves the thrill of journalism.

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