It is hard to find a voice of reason in a sea of congressional insanity these days. And with the loss of Senator John McCain, finding a reasonable voice is akin to finding the needle in a haystack. I didn’t always agree with Senator McCain, but I never questioned his purpose for serving in the Senate. He gave his life in service to our country, and he believed it was his duty to do so. By all accounts, he had a fiery temper, and was quick to anger in the face of what he deemed to be nonsense. I can relate.
Despite the ease at which many in Congress fall victim to hubris, Senator McCain was rather humble. He took his licks on the chin with grace, losing two presidential bids and suffering other policy and political setbacks. I suppose his prisoner of war experience made public political losses rather inconsequential to him. It was likely his perspective, gained from excruciating sorrow, loneliness, fear and pain that gave him the courage to rise above rhetoric and to consistently do what he thought was the right thing for the country, independent of his party’s narrative. He was a statesman, able to create relationships with colleagues that sat across the political aisle from him, all the while vigorously defending his principles and policy positions. We have a few of these statesmen/women in Montana, who defend Montana always, even if their respective political parties would favor party position over constituency. Bucking party positions may be considered a cardinal sin in some circles, but those with courage, whose policy lenses place Montana in full view, are revered historically for having the right perspective at the right time for their constituents. Few doubt now that Jeannette Rankin and Mike Mansfield consistently voted with Montana in mind. Taking a party unpopular position isn’t easy, especially when some forget we elect policymakers to represent Montana’s interests above all else.
Recognizing courageous elected officials who fight for the people they serve honors Senator McCain’s legacy. Because, “[i]n the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.” If a candidate favors secrecy over transparency, recognize this deviation from Montana values. If your party asks you to overlook a candidate’s inability to discern astute public policy from special interest talking points because the candidate promises to vote lockstep with the party, think of Montana. If the candidate lacks candor, don’t give them your vote as it will only perpetuate Swamp Fever. Honor the legacy of courageous statesmen and women by voting for candidates who fight for Montana, even at the risk of political popularity. Because in the end, Montana – not a political party – must persevere. Rest in peace, Senator McCain.
Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.