McCain’s emphasis was ‘Country First’

Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday of brain cancer, was known as a political “maverick,” someone who didn’t necessarily follow the party line on issues. Instead, he followed his own convictions, his own belief of what was right and fair. Unlike some politicians who consult the polls before taking a stance, McCain consulted his heart. And in his heart, America came first.

This was never more evident than when he cast his famous “no” vote on a bill to repeal , once and for all, the Affordable Care Act. A yes vote would have pleased his Republican colleagues and the conservative base, but in McCain’s mind, with no plan to replace it, repeal would have thrown the U.S. health care system into chaos. He had the courage to vote as he thought was right.

In his presidential run in 2008, he famously corrected a woman at a Lakeville, MN town hall meeting who said she didn’t trust Barack Obama, because he was an Arab. McCain defended his opponent as a “decent family man, (a) citizen” and refused to use the “birther” sentiment to his advantage. It wouldn’t have been fair.

His heroism, proven during his five years as a POW in North Vietnam was tested again at the end of his life, when an aggressive form of brain cancer attacked him. He fought it as long as he could, but decided this past week to face his end surrrounded by the people he loved, at the Arizona ranch he loved.

He has served his country well. May he rest in peace with all the honor we can give him.